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Math moguls: Can Japanese physicists predict a Hollywood hit?

Photo by Heritage Vancouver via Flickr Creative Commons

The science of success gets sexy with symbols in a study published by the New Journal of Physics that claims to have the answer to Hollywood's biggest question. 

Japanese scientists say they've created a formula to predict if a film will be a box office "hit," based on how it's marketed, advertising budget data, online word-of-mouth, and other "human dynamics" criteria.

The study focused on the motion picture industry in Japan, but the team concluded the model was applicable to any consumer market:

We present the mathematical model of the hit phenomenon as an equation of consumer action where consumer–consumer communication is taken into account. In the communication effect, we include both direct communication and indirect communication.
We found the daily number of blog posts to be very similar to the revenue of the corresponding movie. The daily number of blog posts can be used as quasi-revenue. The results calculated with the model can predict the revenue of the corresponding movie very well.
We found that indirect communication affects revenue using the calculation and our theory. The conclusion presented in this paper will be applicable to any consumer market.