The relationship between the motion picture industry and its audience is one that I find fascinating. There has long been a sort of love-hate relationship with audience research in the motion picture business, dating back to the very earliest days of the industry. As in most media sectors, the tools for gauging and predicting audience preferences are becoming increasingly sophisticated, as this recent article on the rise of what is being called “Neurocinematics” illustrates.
In an inevitable development, the techniques and technologies of the emerging field of neuomarketing are being applied to the processes of producing and marketing motion pictures. Essentially, test subjects receive brain scans while being shown films, clips, or even trailers, and the results are analyzed to determine the activity level of the parts of the brain that involve attention and perception.
What is particularly intriguing about these developments is that they are now being employed not just to assist in the marketing of completed films, but, as the article points out, to actually “help make the movie.” Specifically, the firms working in this area “currently leverage neurocinematics for script vetting and character development, even cast selection.”
These developments parallel other ongoing efforts by the motion picture industry to try to bring greater predictability, greater rationality, to the process of developing and producing films. Particularly interesting in this regard is the increased use of a software program developed by the firm Epagogix, in which hundreds of elements of a screenplay are broken down and entered into a predictive model that spits out the project’s likely box office gross.
Clearly, the art of motion pictures continues to become more and more of a science. Or at least it is trying to.