Tag Archives: predictive analytics

Leadership Transition: Argo Overtakes Lincoln…for Now

As we mentioned in our previous post on PGA and SAG, there may be some shifting momentum in the Best Picture race.  In fact, in the last few days, betting markets have begun to favor Argo for Best Picture over Lincoln.  Interestingly, the markets have been fluctuating significantly.  Following its win at PGA, Argo was up but still below Lincoln. Following SAG on Sunday, Argo skyrocketed.  But by Monday morning, Argo was back down to levels below Lincoln, near where it was post-PGA and pre-SAG.  In the last 24 hours, however, Argo has again begun to gain.

This indicates that the underlying dynamics of this race remain in flux. Sentiment continues to change and evolve.  And, we’ll have yet another data-point come this weekend’s Directors Guild of America (“DGA”) Awards.  Should Affleck win over Spielberg, we would expect the Argo momentum in the betting markets to continue. Fundamentally, if Affleck wins DGA, many pundits will question how he was passed over for an Oscar nomination for Best Director in the first place.  Should Spielberg take home the DGA Award, he will be the clear front runner for the Oscar for Best Director, and his win may stymie the strong sentiment for Argo we’re seeing in the betting markets.

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Fine, But Will It Play In Peoria?

A studio is a lot like the CIA Situation Room in Zero Dark Thirty. No one can never be 100% certain of Box Office projections. You have Sony’s Michael Lynton at the head of the table asking what his movie will produce next weekend at the Box Office. Amy Pascal says that she thinks the film could do $20 million, with a 60% probability. Jeff Blake says that when he spends $X million in marketing, it should do $20 million…with 65% probability. Kathryn Bigalow and Mark Boal say it’ll do $25 million, with 100% probability…well 95% probability, because they know certainty freaks everyone out. Really, the process of projecting Box Office and the corresponding implications for a film’s Ultimates (the total revenue stream of a film in all of its distribution windows), as well as the impact for a film on a studio’s slate could benefit from the big data and predictive analytics revolution. Over the last decade, the many slate financing failures indicate a less-than-satisfactory projection process.

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PGA and SAG Cause Some Drama

We are marching towards February 24th. And this weekend marked a critical juncture: the Producers Guild of America Awards and the SAG AFTRA Awards were each held this weekend, providing us important new data points for the model.  And, it was some unexpected and exciting news.

On Saturday night, at the Producers Guild of America (“PGA”) Awards, Argo took home the top award. As we have mentioned before, PGA is one of the best indicators of the likely winner of the Oscar for Best Picture. But, as we have mentioned before, it is rare that a film wins Best Picture when the Director is not also nominated for Best Director.  Recall, Argo’s Director (Ben Affleck) was not nominated for Best Director.  Thus, we have a few signals that seem to conflict. This type of situation happens all the time in business planning, so we’re thankful that the PGA is giving us a chance to evaluate the situation.

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Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes is one of the most popular sites that reviews movies. Beyond the Box Office, this platform provides one of the only quantitative measurement tools for how well-received a movie is by both audience and critics. But does the audience, or even the critic, opinion mean anything for the Oscars?

Rotten Tomatoes has two parallel ratings systems: one critic driven and one audience driven. The critics contribute to the Critics Score, called the Tomatometer®; the user-driven score is called, inventively, the Audience Score. Each is a percentage of the reviewers that had a positive rating of the movie. For the Audience Score, a positive review is one with 3.5 stars or greater; for the critics, a positive review is a thumbs up (or equivalent).

There are also other meta-scores that Rotten Tomatoes provides: the Critics Rating and the Audience Rating. These measure the aggregate scores of critics and the unwashed masses alike. The Critics Rating has three levels: Certified Fresh, Fresh, and Rotten. According to the RT website the Certified Fresh rating is “Reserved for the best-reviewed films, the Certified Fresh accolade constitutes a seal of approval, synonymous with quality.” Quantitatively, these films have consistent Critics Scores above 75% or higher. There does appear to be some judgment, however, because many films with a score higher than 75% do not have the Certified Fresh designation. For the Audience Rating there are two levels: Upright and Spilled (these are designated on the Rotten Tomatoes website by an upright or spilled bucket of popcorn).

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Does Oscar® Ski?

Who doesn’t love a good party? And everyone in Hollywood knows (and everyone else that watches Entourage knows) that outside of Oscar Sunday, the best parties are in and around the sleepy little ski town of Park City, Utah.  Call it “Hollywood in the Slopes.” I am fairly convinced that more wine, beer and booze is consumed this single week in Park City than the entire other 51 weeks of the year in all of Utah – combined. I’m fairly certain that much of that is consumed a one particular house in The Colony, a luxe neighborhood in Park City’s Canyons resort – you know who you are! There are an estimated 40,000 people that converge on Robert Redford’s resort community, shuttling between screenings, meetings, drinks, parties, and more drinks.

For those newbies to the film world, Sundance is a film festival, just like Cannes in France, Tribecca in New York, or Toronto International in Tor…you get the drift. Festivals are intended to be a marketplace where filmmakers sell their films to buyers who purchase the right to distribute those films in certain specified territories. Some producers are in town to try and “sell” their movies before they are made – shopping scripts and projects. Those producers spend most of Sundance asleep all day and partying all evening. Some filmmakers are in town to learn and they attend seminars.  They work all day and party all evening. Most filmmakers are showing their films to audiences, hoping one of a handful of independent studios will buy their movie for theatres – both US and foreign. That, and they want to party all evening.

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Which Leading Lady Will Win?

After reading the press yesterday, our vote for Best Actress would have to be for Lennay Kekua who stars in “The Manti Te’o Story”.  Alas she is not in the running – probably because she does not exist.  Instead, we are left with a woman playing slightly unstable and a woman who is a spook with the CIA.  Wait…that sounds a lot like whoever this Lennay Kekua woman actually may be.  The Best Actress race, like the Best Actor race, is largely down to two: Jennifer Lawrence and Jessica Chastain.  Both of these young beauties are accomplished actors.  Even beyond these two frontrunners, this category is rich with interesting nominees and stories, including the youngest and oldest nominees in Best Actress category in Oscar history.

Leading Ladies – Nominee Analysis:
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
It was only two years ago that Jennifer Lawrence burst onto the scene in Winter’s Bone.  The role earned her critical acclaim, including an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. She was only 20, and the second youngest nominee in the category in history.  Now at 22, she is the leading contender for the Oscar.  Intrade has Lawrence at 60.6%. She took home the Golden Globe for Best Actress – Comedy / Musical, and Best Actress in a Comedy at the Critics Choice Awards.  But Lawrence isn’t a type-cast actress. She also received the Critics Choice Award for Best Actress – Action, for her role in the Hunger Games in 2012.  Given her previous nomination, her strength in other awards this season, and her betting market strength, we have Lawrence at 53.5%.

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Revised Model, With A Golden Tint

It is almost as easy to predict the Oscars as it is to predict what the pundits will say.  “The HFPA favors musicals” will be their response to the wins of Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman and Les Miserables for Best Picture – Musical. “The HFPA adores Tarantino” will justify Christoph Waltz and Django Unchained for Best Screenplay.  The morning of the Globes, Steve Pond’s preview in Wrap.com was titled “Credibility Is Overrated”, and Deadline hosted a funny and biting, “Live Snarking”. Regardless, the Globes are a data point worthy of consideration, not totally irrelevant noise. There are signals in this event, particularly because it is so early in the season. Keep in mind The Globes impact is two-fold: first, it could have some predictive correlation to the Oscar race itself, albeit small; second, it may drive changes in the betting markets.  Intrade has moved materially in the last three days, both on the results of Critics Choice Awards and the Golden Globes. And, thus, we attempt to answer Hollywood’s question: “Do the Globes help a nominee’s Oscar chances?”

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And The Golden Globe Goes To…

It was another awesome night at the Beverly Hilton Hotel for the 70th Annual Golden Globes.  As predicted (and as usual), by 10PM Eastern, a handful of stars were a little buzzed.  But, that only makes this particular show more endearing.   We are currently updating the Oscar Model to reflect last night’s wins, but we are already prepared to give some color commentary.  And, we’ll start by saying that we wish were as funny as Amy Poehler and Tina Fey.  These two hosts set a high bar for the rest of Awards Season.

Now, onto some of the winners

Best Supporting Actor
Chrisoph Waltz for Django Unchained.  He is also nominated for the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, an award he won in 2009 for Inglorious Bastards (another Tarantino film).

Best Supporting Actress
Anne Hathaway for Les Miserables.  Already the leader in the Oscar race, Hathaway’s stock will continue to rise.

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