Brainwaves can Predict the Success of Movies

Brainwaves can Predict a Movie's Success

New study combines two awesome things: Movies and Science! The research finds that brainwaves can predict a movie’s success better than surveys.

Many, me included, have watched an awesome movie trailer and felt the entire emotional range from awe to sadness depending on the themes explored. Movie marketers would love to get a closer look at what processes decide your willingness to pay to see a movie in the theater. New research from the American Marketing Association find that EEG readings of people watching a movie trailer can determine how much a viewer likes a movie regardless of their conscious opinion.

Brainwaves can Predict a Movie’s Success

The findings of the study were published in the Journal of Marketing Research.

75% of movies actually lose money during their run in theaters. Bad movies wouldn’t need to be released at all if executives knew beforehand what the public think about them. It turns out all that’s needed to bridge the gap is the somewhat Orwellian solution of hooking everyone up to EEG machines.

The new study had participants watch movie trailers on a computer in a darkened room hooked up to an EEG machine. Everyone watched 18 movie trailers in a random order while their brainwaves were recorded. After each trailer they were asked to rate the trailer and tell researchers how much they were willing to pay for a DVD of the film.

After watching all 18 trailers subjects were presented with all 18 DVDs and asked to sort them by preference. The three movies they liked best from watching the trailers were given to them.

Researchers found that the EEG readings recorded while watching trailers were a lot more accurate in determining the top three films than statements made by the subjects.

“This study has shown that compared to traditional surveys, EEG machines capture more accurate and complete information regarding what the consumer will actually do. EEG tests are relatively cheap, and even a modest increase in ability to predict consumer choice is likely to be of immeasurable value to marketers,” – Says the study authors.

Even if brainwaves can predict the success of a movie I think it will be hard to convince the public to have their scanned while watching movies. Movie executives might find this practice useful in test audiences and screenings though. If you could avoid a new Jar Jar or the 2nd / 3rd Matrix movie would you agree to have your mind read ?

Image Credit: Andrei Zmievski via, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0