Two computer scientists say they have developed a system for predicting the box office success of movies before they hit the theatres that could revolutionize the industry, but Hollywood has responded with a yawn, despite the fact that ticket sales are down for the second year in a row.

Oklahoma State University professors Ramesh Sharda and Dursun Delen say their computer can predict exactly how much revenue a movie will generate 37% of the time. The software offers seven categories that are used to determine the revenue range of a movie before its release. In other words, is it an independent film that isn’t expected to make much money, or is it a “tent pole” picture like King Kong, that costs a lot and is expected to make a lot? A movie is classified in one of nine categories, from “super flops” that take in less than $1 million to “blockbusters” that gross more than $200 million.

The researchers picked seven factors to help decide on a projected revenue range for an upcoming movie. These include the star value of the cast, the movie’s age rating, the time of release against that of competitive movies, the film’s genre, the degree of special effects used, whether it is a sequel or not, and the number of screens it is expected to open on. They have been testing their software by inputting data from 834 actual movies released between 1998 and 2002. They’ve been working on the project for seven years.

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