Media companies are looking to change the way movies are made by using big data to inform decisions. Big data is currently being used to analyze audience behavior, which is changing the way movies are written, directed, and marketed. Some writers, actors, and directors believe this will put the entire production process solely in the hands of business executives who care nothing for the art form or the history of cinema. If big data is used to only recommend and produce the types of movies they know the audience segments will enjoy, will that not become boring and predictable to those segments? Legendary film director Martin Scorsese recently wrote in an essay, “the art of cinema is being systematically devalued, sidelined, demeaned, and reduced to its lowest common denominator” by the conceptualization of films as “content.” Will big data help an extremely competitive industry achieve its goals during uncertain times, or will film as we know it become nothing more than content that we clump together with tv commercials, series episodes, podcast videos, and comedy skits?
Audiences play a role in the Hollywood machinery. Scorsese writes, “here is a core tenet in the study of theatrical performance which says that an audience is more than a just a passive receptacle. It lives. It breathes. And as such it possesses the power to inform creative pieces as they unfold..” Online movie reviews written by critics and fans alike, can be found online for just about any movie. People post their reactions to movies on blogs, Facebook, Twitter threads, and forums on sites like Reddit. The people in the movie industry who are most excited about introducing big data are those on the business end, not necessarily the artist or creators. The goal for them is to use data to drive all the decisions as well as revenue.
Data can help decision-making. It can be used to decide movie release dates, it can help the companies understand more about their target market, how to distribute and how to meet the needs of specific segments. With the use of big data analysis segments are becoming more granular – reporting more details on geographic regions, helping moviemakers compete with better decision-making, and identifying and meeting realistic goals. Moviegoer reactions are being turned into actionable insights. It seems the big studios are being empowered.
Companies like IBM are working on tracking sentiment and Netflix has made 70,000 different characteristics for movie content. Could all of this lead to movie directors being told exactly how to direct? Doesn’t this take away some of the creativity of a movie project? The business side of the industry is looking to take big chunks of data, and not only find out who the audiences are, but what makes them tick. What parts of movies make them happy, sad, excited, or draw any other type of emotion. So they determine what works and what doesn’t. So what if a director films a scene that the analytics doesn’t agree with. Does the director lose their job if they disagree? If a writer writes in a scene that makes a targeted segment feel uncomfortable, does a movie executive ask them to cut that from the script? And what happens when a film wants to be created for reasons other than huge financial gains, but for a more creative endeavor. Will there be no studio left to back this type of thing?
Scorsese Takes Aim at Streaming’s lack of Curation and More: Cinema is Being Devalued by Content: https://www.indiewire.com/2021/02/martin-scorsese-streaming-lack-of-curation-1234617241/
Big Data and Hollywood: A Love Story: https://www.theatlantic.com/sponsored/ibm-transformation-of-business/big-data-and-hollywood-a-love-story/277/
Pros and Cons of Using Big Data in Movie Making: https://sofy.tv/blog/pros-cons-using-big-data-movie-making/