Hate the Movies? This Could Be Why…

December 8, 2009 § Leave a comment

I went with a couple of co-workers to see the movie The Proposal a few of weeks back, and while the outing was fun I didn’t care much for the movie. The audience loved it, they gave big laughs and dramatic reactions. My co-workers seemed to enjoy it as well. I was a little perplexed when I returned home that evening; was it just me? Was I too cold or analytical to find the movie’s humor?

Let me go back a little further…

On an international flight last year I was able to read the first Twilight book in it’s entirety. I was excited for the read, I had heard a lot of good things about the series and they were coming out with a movie- all good signs of solid reading entertainment. But I didn’t like it- I couldn’t get over the poor writing or the fanatical whims of the characters.

Where is this going?

I read this article in The Economist that may have answered my concerns of being a cold or analytical person.

Perhaps the best explanation of why this might be so was offered in 1963. In “Formal Theories of Mass Behaviour”, William McPhee noted that a disproportionate share of the audience for a hit was made up of people who consumed few products of that type. (Many other studies have since reached the same conclusion.) A lot of the people who read a bestselling novel, for example, do not read much other fiction. By contrast, the audience for an obscure novel is largely composed of people who read a lot. That means the least popular books are judged by people who have the highest standards, while the most popular are judged by people who literally do not know any better. An American who read just one book this year was disproportionately likely to have read “The Lost Symbol”, by Dan Brown. He almost certainly liked it.

I don’t find myself reading highly obscure literature and I am neither better nor necessarily wiser then people who enjoy reading the Twilight series but I believe this idea has some merit. I think it could be good a good research aid when trying to understand target markets.


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