Another sign of the decline of studios – scripts by numbers

mociesby Pilottage

Solving Equation of a Hit Film Script, With Data – 

Forget zombies. The data crunchers are invading Hollywood. Readers’ Comments Readers shared their thoughts on this article. Read All Comments (334) » The same kind of numbers analysis that has reshaped areas like politics and online marketing is increasingly being used by the entertainment industry.

Netflix tells customers what to rent based on algorithms that analyze previous selections, Pandora does the same with music, and studios have started using Facebook “likes” and online trailer views to mold advertising and even films.

Now, the slicing and dicing is seeping into one of the last corners of Hollywood where creativity and old-fashioned instinct still hold sway: the screenplay.


Spielberg and Lucas talked a bit ago about a coming implosion of the movie industry, as it tries to support more and more expensive movies. They felt that the failure of a few %250 million movies would be the start.

This sort of approach will also be a sign. The downfall of the megamovie is the cost, which requires broadcast approaches to pay for themselves. To recoup $250 million requires a lot of people to see.

So the money guys stack the odds: get the right star, design the script by the numbers, use a hot director, etc. They take few chance, making sequels of sequels.

But modern technology allows new models, ones that are very disruptive. This is the hallmark of the Innovator’s Dilemma – new technologies allow new models.

A big studio cannot make enough money off of a $10 million dollar movie. But there are lots of people that can becasue they do not need a broadcast model.

Broadcasting models are dying as they get fractured into microcasting models.  We are seeing this with TV, where technology now allows very well-produced and complexTV shows starring well known actors being shown on cable channels. What used to require an audience of 10 million can now be done with an audience of 1 million,

Studios will implode because they cannot sustain that sort of model. As Spielberg said, Lincoln almost went straight to HBO rather than theaters. 

I expect more will actually be seen on HBO first. Like Behind the Candelabra.

Then why will anyone want to go to the movie theater?