Light Empirical Data On Films and Search
IMDb has a feature called MOVIEmeter Top 25 Films of 2008. It claims to be a distillation of the most popular films based on searches. So these rankings are “based not upon critical assessments or box-office performance, but the actual search behavior of over 57 million users of IMDb.com. They’re the movies that were most often on people’s minds, ones they were keen to get information on.” As the site notes, the results reflects a mix of interests. Sure, the expected Internet/fan crowds’ interests (e.g., Tron, Dark Knight, etc.) are represented. Yet perpetual favorites such as Shawshank and Godfather are present too (although the rest of the list is really about films in the past year or so). The searches for future films are for franchise or aspiring to be franchise movies (Terminator, Harry Potter, Star Trek, Transformers, Tron, Dragonball) or films featuring hot ticket actors such as Jason Statham. So maybe the list indicates a type of brand power. I personally am not a fan of Shawshank (yes I know heresy) and am a fan of Godfather (surprise, surprise, surprise). One might think they are on because there is a certain stickiness to the films in that they are accessible and considered good (compare Citizen Kane). In addition, they are apparently usually one or two on IMDb’s top 250 list (by vote). The most likely reason they are on the list is that they both have had Blu-ray releases so some marketing etc. has brought them to the fore.
Which leads to a freebie for Amazon/IMDd: sell the search results to the film industry. Studios could have sense of what marketing is working and which actors are drawing attention to a film. Of course the Jolie’s of the film game are obvious right now. But other, lesser known actors and film projects are more difficult to track. In fact IMDb already has star meters and movie meters to give a sense of week to week interest. So offering a picture of people’s interest over a longer time frame may help a studio. One may not know whether an ad worked directly but if there were spikes in searches on IMDb that co-related to ad pushes, one may have a sense of what was working or not. Then again, these numbers probably don’t show as much as folks think and as William Goldman said, “Nobody knows anything.”