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Physicists in Japan crack the secret to box office success

PARIS -- Unlikely candidates for box office stardom, a team of Japanese physicists may soon be in high demand with moviemakers after devising a formula to predict how successful a film is likely to be.

The team from Tottori University devised a set of mathematical models that measure how much money was spent on advertising before a movie is released, over what period of time, and how much talk the film generated in social media.

Using the models, they predicted the popularity of a variety of blockbusters, including the “Da Vinci Code,” “Spider Man 3” and “Avatar,” which they later compared to actual revenue generated.

“They appeared to match very well, meaning the calculations could provide a fairly good prediction of how successful a movie could be even before it is released,” said a statement from the Institute of Physics, which published the paper in the Journal of Physics on Friday.

The team hopes to apply its model to other commercial markets such as online music, food snacks, soft drinks and event organizing.

Lead author Akira Ishii told AFP a key benefit of the formula was that it enabled a company to determine the best time it should spend its advertising dollars.

“I think our model is very general. It will work in other countries as well,” the physicist said, adding that he hoped to make the formula commercially available.

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