It is sad but true that one of the most important aspects of the movie business is making a profit. An article in the New Yorker follows two men who might have found a way to mathematically predict the formula for a successful film.

Written by Malcolm Gladwell, the article focuses on Dick Copaken and Nick Meany, who have developed a system that they say can predict a hit. The process breaks down story ideas into different categories. Each category would have a score attached to create a "report card" for the story, to see which combinations were a success at the box office. They run that information through a data mining computer to search for patterns. Those patterns are what could help predict when a film is going to be a success.

A University of Arizona computer scientist used a similar process to successfully predict the winners of greyhound races. The process spotted a pattern in race grade statistics that would predict winners that human "experts" rarely paid attention to. The objectivity in Copage's system is maybe its greatest selling point: "It doesn't care about maintaining relationships with stars or agents or getting invited to someone's party. It doesn't care about climbing the corporate ladder. It has one master and one master only: How do you get to bigger box-office? Nobody else in Hollywood is like that." Already motion capture is changing how we look at actors -- is it that far-fetched to think a computer-generated script could be next?

[via New Yorker]