In the fickle world of showbiz, a movie is designated as a hit usually based off the massive amounts of money it can rake in at the box office. No matter how great the word of mouth is on a film, the success of the film’s performances, writing and directing, or the critical acclaim and awards hardware a movie is bestowed with, if it’s not bringing in the dough, it just ain’t considered a hit. So while films like Brooklyn, Spotlight, Room and Bridge of Spies are some of the Oscar-nominated darlings this year, based on box office results, those critically lauded films pale in comparison to a summer juggernaut like Avengers: Age of Ultron.
In 2016, however, Hollywood’s mind may not just solely be on the money. Rather, instead of obsessing over box office results of a given film to qualify it as a hit or not and take that into consideration when producing more movies, Hollywood is beginning to monitor audience reaction via wearables to determine what the next big hit will be. This analytic process gives producers and Hollywood big-wigs more detailed and insightful data on just what it is about a certain film that audiences like or connected to, giving them useful information they can consult when crafting future films in order to give the people what they truly want to see.
A screening of the epic Leonardo-DiCaprio-brawls-with-a-bear flick The Revenant equipped its test audience members with heart-rate tracking wearables so the studio could gather data on how audience members reacted to the film. This data was broken down by Lightwave, a company that monitors and analyzes biometric data, into information that studio 20th Century Fox could use to see what exactly engaged audiences watching The Revenant. Turns out, that bear attack scene resonated wildly, triggering a fight-or-flight response in many viewers and leaving a number of them with rapidly beating hearts, completely enraptured by what was unfolding on the screen.
The physical responses of moviegoers can essentially be monitored by wearables and converted into biometric data to determine just exactly what type of scenes and movies audiences most engage with, or conversely, what studios should maybe dial back on or steer clear of in future films due to unfavorable audience reaction and data. In an industry whose product is very much dictated in terms of profit, utilizing technology as an alternative means of determining what constitutes as a hit could be groundbreaking for the kind of films that get green-lit in the future.