The movie industry - A Risky Business: An investigation of the success factors of Blockbuster movies. An analysis of the factors that influence a movie's box office success with particular reference to what other filmmakers can learn from director James Cameron's world beating movies Avatar and Titanic
University of Wales
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Filmmakers bear high risks due to demand unpredictability and almost all of a movie's costs being incurred before a movie's release. It is investigated if key movie success factors identified from the literature and validated and added to through interviews in the context of this study apply to the five most successful movies worldwide ever in terms of box office revenue to establish what filmmakers can learn from the first two movies Avatar and Titanic to apply to future projects to reduce their risk. The results suggest that filmmakers can learn a lot from all five movies. It was found that all five movies were released during major holidays with Avatar, Titanic and the Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King being released during the Winter/Christmas holidays. Apart from Avatar all five movies (and the remaining top 20 movies) were movie sequels and/or based on a book or previously known idea. All of the directors appear to have had the power to attract moviegoers. James Cameron's brand power for Avatar was the highest due to his having directed Titanic as well. This was probably strengthened through his also having written the screenplay on his own and produced the movie with John Landau. All movies appear to have had a big production budget and a considerable amount of special effects with Avatar having the most. Marketing and Word-of-Mouth also appeared to be very important success factors. The fate of Avatar and Titanic appears to suggest that volume of WOM has a higher influence than it being predominately positive or negative. The influence of online WOM and reviews both critical and noncritical should also not be underestimated. Based on these and other findings recommendations for filmmakers are made. Areas for further research are suggested.
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