New Feature: The Current Cultural Popularity Index

on Tuesday, April 07, 2009  

For a while now, I've been wanting to compare how much money movies are earning versus the amount of buzz that surrounds them with some sort of measurable statistic. You see, for every Taken, which arose out of relative obscurity to earn $24.7 million over its opening weekend, there's a Snakes On A Plane, which everyone was talking about, yet it could only muster $13.8 million in its opening frame. Often the media is ablaze with thousands of articles about a film, only for it to fall flat upon its release. Often the media doesn't bother to report much upon a film, yet it does very well financially. Often (and probably most often), the media reports endlessly on a film, and it consequently goes on to make hundreds of millions of dollars. I simply wanted a way to document this relationship of buzz and box office. Therefore, I've created the Current Cultural Popularity Index.

Here's how the Current Cultural Popularity Index will work. On Friday, I will look up the title of each film in Google News. I will enter the title in quotations to assure the most accurate results. For example, I would write "Fast And Furious" or "The Haunting In Connecticut." If the title is a single generic word, I will also include the last name of the lead actor or actress, so that I don't get every single article that includes that word in the results. For example, for the movie Knowing, I would look up: knowing cage. The number of results that Google News accrues will serve as the Buzz Rating for the Index. I hope all that makes sense. The rest is pretty simple.

Once I have gotten the Buzz Rating for each film, I then look at the weekend gross for each film. Obviously, this will makes up the box office part of the Index. The final step is to divide the weekend box office by the Buzz Rating for each film. This resulting number is something I will call the Current Cultural Popularity Number. The higher the CCPN, the more that a certain film actually matters to audiences at any given time. The CCPN illustrates the extent to which audiences are consuming what the media is presenting them. I will rank the films by their Current Cultural Popularity. Here's my very first version of the chart:


The Current Cultural Popularity Index
CCPN
Rank

Movie
Title
Weekend
Box Office
Buzz Rating
(# Of Articles)
Current Cultural
Popularity #
Actual
Rank

1
Fast And Furious
$70,950,500 2,80125,330
1
2
Monsters Vs. Aliens
$32,609,165 8,7333,760
2
3
The Haunting In Connecticut
$9,481,647 2,6123,411
3
4
Knowing
$8,146,156 2,7792,9314
5
Sunchine Cleaning $1,807,164 7592,37110
6
Adventureland$5,722,0392,6342,1726
7
I Love You, Man
$7,722,4684,0251,918
5
8
12 Rounds $2,260,906 1,5431,4659
9
Race To Witch Mountain
$3,212,602 2,5041,282
8
10
The Last House On The Left $1,259,325 1,27299012
11
Duplicity $4,174,240 4,4669347
12
Taken
$1,544,471 2,022763
11

Here are my immediate thoughts:
1. Fast And Furious is definitely the most popular movie out right now. By a lot.
2. Sunshine Cleaning has breakout potential. It's really exceeding its buzz.
3. The media cares about Julia Roberts and Duplicity. The public does not.
4. The Buzz Rating for Taken was tough to calculate. I tried to filter out all the articles that were actually about Liam Neeson's late wife, Natasha Richardson, but I don't know how well I did.

Now, I want your feedback. Scratch that- I need your feedback! Do you think the Current Cultural Popularity Index is interesting/useful? Is this something I should keep doing? Any suggestions for different ways I could calculate the statistics that might make this chart more helpful and informative? Trust me, this is going to be a learning process for me too, but as for this trial edition, I personally found it fascinating. I'm fully planning on continuing. But hey, you might not agree. Please give me a piece of your mind in the comments!

1 comments:

Andrew said...

Grady this is an awesome idea! and your mechanics of calculating it seem to have worked well. Seriously keep this going.

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