Patterns In The Top 20 ROI (Return On Investment) Films: On Frequency (over time)
i.e. Question: HOW OFTEN DO “TOP 20 ROI FILMS” COME ALONG..?
With amazingly regular frequency:
The time series (below) shows that: Top 20 ROI Films occur with a surprisingly regular frequency:
Since 1968, every 2 years, on average (every 2.05 years, to be exact).
There is therefore a clear pattern to their emergence from the feature film system.
The formula that results from a linear regression is:
The time series shows a clear pattern, as revealed below, by the “line of best fit”/trend line:
This time series (above) also clearly shows the 10-year gap – from 1983 to 1993, and also, the four Top 20 ROI films that emerged in 2004 (Primer, SAW, Open Water, Napoleon Dynamite).
BUT – WHY THE `10-YEAR GAP’?
The suggested reasons for the 10-year “drought” (1983-1993) and the 2004 “flood” (the four Top-20 ROI films) include that:
1) From 1983 to 1993, (an economic boom-time, and notoriously “the rise of Wall Street” as satirized in the book and film American Psycho, 2000) the worldwide film industry was dominated by big-budget “blockbuster” films and their sequels, creating a competitive climate for original, independent films.
Among the highest-grossing films worldwide for the period from 1983 to 1993, were:
1983 – Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983) – $572 million
1984 – Ghostbusters – $291 million, Beverly Hills Cop $316 million
1984 – Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom – $333 million
1985 – Back to the Future – $382 million, Rocky IV – $300 million, Rambo: First Blood Part 2 – $300 million
1986 – Crocodile Dundee – $328 million
1987 – Fatal Attraction – $320 million, Beverly Hills Cop 2 – $300 million
1988 – Rain Man – $355 million, Who Framed Roger Rabbit – $329m, Crocodile Dundee 2 – $239 million
1989 – Batman – $411 million, Back To The Future 2 – $332, Lethal Weapon 2 – $227 million
1989 – Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade – $474 million, Ghostbusters 2 – $215 million
1990 – Ghost – $505 million, Home Alone – $476 million
1991 – Terminator 2: Judgment Day – $519 million, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves – $390 million
1992 – Lethal Weapon 3 – $321 million, Batman Returns – $266 million, Home Alone 2: Lost In New York – $358 million, Basic Instinct – $353 million
1993 – Jurassic Park – $914 million, Mrs Doubtfire – $441 million
And the major contributing factors for the “glut” of high-ROI films in 2004 was that:
2) In 2002, digital films (both in terms of cameras – and digital editing software, even where films were shot on 35mm) became very affordable for independent filmmakers.
So – the regular frequency of emergence of `Top 20 ROI’ Films (as in the chart above) is clear empirical evidence that – there is a predictable system at work, in the domain of Theatrical Feature Films.
And, if indeed as the empirical data suggests, there is “a system” (or in fact, multiple, overlapping systems) in existence, from which these feature films emerge with such regularity, then which theory (or, combination of theories) might both describe and explain the workings of such a system (or, systems)?
The answer is: Creative Practice Theory Narratology – a synthesis of Csikszentmihalyi’s systems model of creativity, and Bourdieu’s practice theory. This theory accurately describes the feature film system in action.
A NOTE: ON `THE PROBLEM OF INDUCTION’
Although this empirical and scientific method (the StoryAlity system) appears to have “presumed a system, and then found one” – importantly, Blaikie finds that:
`Rubenstein et al have argued that science is a process that progressively explores the world by means of a systematic alternation between induction and deduction, an iterative process for refining and testing ideas’
Figure 3: Inductive and Deductive strategies
Source: (Blaikie 1993: 157)
So; yeah. Re: The Problem of Induction? Don’t even think about it… (Nassim Taleb*, this means you 😉
We shall see…
Thoughts, feedback, comments?
High-RoI Story/Screenplay/Movie and Transmedia Researcher
The above is (mostly) an adapted excerpt, from my doctoral thesis: “Communication, Creativity and Consilience in Cinema”. It is presented here for the benefit of fellow screenwriting, filmmaking and creativity researchers. For more, see https://aftrs.academia.edu/JTVelikovsky
JT Velikovsky is also a produced feature film screenwriter and million-selling transmedia writer-director-producer. He has been a professional story analyst for major film studios, film funding organizations, and for the national writer’s guild. For more see: http://on-writering.blogspot.com/
* Nassim Taleb is an ex-Wharton School (the University of Pennsylvania) scholar, whose work is focussed on randomness, uncertainty and probability. He is also the author of The Black Swan (2007) and Fooled By Randomness (2001), in which I have discovered two errors (i.e. logical lacunae).
 Note that, in regression analysis, the closer R2 is to 1, the better is “the goodness of fit”. The R2 coefficient of determination is a statistical measure of how well the regression line approximates the actual data points.
Blaikie, Norman W. H. (1993), Approaches to Social Enquiry (Cambridge: Polity Press).