Cut the bowling scene if you want to make it big
In the 90s, conceptual artists Komar and Melamid used focus groups and opinion-polls (then-current tools used in politics) to identify the best attributes of a painting, then created works that matched those criteria.
So why not apply something similar to film? The New York Times tells us all about it (although this is more about correlating with sales data than opinion data, it pursues the same conclusion – without irony here – that a combination of the right elements assembled together will create a successful whole).
A chain-smoking former statistics professor named Vinny Bruzzese has started to aggressively pitch a service he calls script evaluation. For as much as $20,000 per script, Mr. Bruzzese and a team of analysts compare the story structure and genre of a draft script with those of released movies, looking for clues to box-office success. His company, Worldwide Motion Picture Group, also digs into an extensive database of focus group results for similar films and surveys 1,500 potential moviegoers.
“Demons in horror movies can target people or be summoned,” Mr. Bruzzese said in a gravelly voice, by way of example. “If it’s a targeting demon, you are likely to have much higher opening-weekend sales than if it’s summoned. So get rid of that Ouija Board scene.”
Bowling scenes tend to pop up in films that fizzle, Mr. Bruzzese, 39, continued. Therefore it is statistically unwise to include one in your script. “A cursed superhero never sells as well as a guardian superhero,” one like Superman who acts as a protector, he added.