Professor Akira Ishii’s research group at the Tottori University Department of Engineering is using a mathematical model to investigate how movies and music exhibit the “hit” phenomenon.
” Why do we go to see movies? We may decide it looks interesting based on advertising, word of mouth, or overhearing conversations while walking, commuting to school or work, or maybe from people talking about the movie at the next table while eating in a restaurant. We tried to take these three elements and, using our sense of physics, express them in an equation. When we did, we found that the equation matches extremely well with actual trends within society.”
The Ishii group found that for 25 movies, their forecasts of audiences matched well with actual results, and that they were able to predict hits with high accuracy.
“Currently the calculations are such that they can’t really be used other than by the students working in our lab. In the future we’d like to incorporate the equations into software that is easy to use by marketers or non-technical people that aren’t so familiar with mathematics. Our dream is that our software could be used by advertisers or for conferences in a broad range of industries.”
A paper on Professor Ishii’s mathematical model was published in the June 15, 2012 edition of the UK’s New Journal of Physics. The story has also been picked up by over 200 news organizations around the world, including the New York Times.