The amount of Internet buzz a movie generates is a strong predictor of its box-office take. But it hardly matters whether that buzz is good or bad, according to a study by Yong Liu of Syracuse University.
* Liu tracked 303 postings about a major movie in the summer of 2002 at Yahoo! Movies. Nearly one-third (32.5%) of these were negative.
* WOM offered significant explanatory power for both aggregate and weekly box office revenue particularly in the early weeks after a movie opened. The effect of WOM was magnified by the sheer volume of it, and not from its valence (the percentages of positive and negative messages).
As exhanged briefly with Yong, the study very much correlates with my own empirical research, where I found not in the US but France (again sorry, but at least it gives some international validity to the findings...o yes, by the way, word of mouth works anywhere...!) that buzz and more generally the online noise around a new movie explains over 60% of the total sales. An other finding was that with no optimal Buzz/Noise within the first week of movie release the movie is most likely to be a failure than a success... No surpise again, maybe, but as I speak am working with on a simple predictive model of sales based on buzz/noise generated before release...the application could then simply help movies distributors track and change activity levels prior release to maiximize success...or simply minimize failure.
If interested, please make contact, happy to share more.