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July 09, 2006



Congrats to Disney and Johnny

Brian Clark

Of course your thesis is still intact... but the timing of this is just too ironic! Not to worry... I don't think anything can stop the momentum your book has. I'm eagerly awaiting my copy to arrive.


I'll admit I got sucked into rushing out to see one of the big "summer blockbusters". Sadly, I should have seen Superman Returns a second time. Pirates was a horrid follow-up to a terrific first movie.

Richard Bliss

One way that Hollywood is lessening the impact of the slide away from hits is to continue to increase the price of tickets for attendance. So even though the amount of money is still very large, the actual number of people attending is dropping very fast. Pirates is a lot of fun, Superman was a long boring movie.

After reading the Long Tail this past weekend I went and bought the movie, "The World's Fastest Indian" with Anthony Hopkins because I realized it was a movie that had moved down the tail, short run at the box office, limited release, 5 Million in Revenue, but a fun little story recommened to me by a friend who loves motorcycles.

The thesis is still very much intact.

Paul Marino

There will always be spikes to the tail...

David L

A very minor suggestion for your otherwise great graphics. Please consider deleting the grey background that Excel puts in by default. It just reduces the contrast and detracts from the data.


Box office receipts may be up but that is largely because there have been more wide release, non-horror films on the market (58 available by July 1 of last year compared to 75 by that same time this year). Also, the success of "Pirates" largely depends on how you define a hit. Its budget is reported at $225 million which means it will have to gross at least $450 million just to break even on production costs. So, the question is, is a hit defined by gross receipts or by profitability?

Mark Coker

Shouldn't you also adjust for ticket price? If you were to look only at unit ticket sales, I think it would paint a decidedly bleaker picture for Hollywood, especially if you expand your time horizon to the 80s and 90s.

Eric Allam


While on the surface it would seem that Pirates creamed Spiderman by pulling in $132 million while spidey only pulled in $114 million, you have to factor in that Pirates opened in 8,500 screens while Spidey opened in 7,500. Percentages:

Box Office difference: 13.7%
Number of Screens difference: 12%


I worked in a movie theater and I recall the discussions I heard about percentages and incentives during the initial release of studio films so I have to second your anonymous commenters contribution with agreement. Unfortunately we are part of a FEED ME nation that overall requires their entertainment to be chock full of flashy costumes, tremendous special effects, and not much else. The Shawshank Redemptions will lose out to the Pirates every time even though the substance of the material is not anywhere near the quality and intelligence. It's too bad.

jason b

Many a moon ago I worked in movie theaters and the exact opposite of what the tipster suggests was how it worked. Big movies like Top Gun would get 80-90% of the opening week gross and the longer it played the theater's percentage would go up. The idea being that theater owners needed large audiences to justify the overhead of a big theater and got to keep all other revenue (sugar water, etc.) To encourage the theater to keep playing the title longer, studios shared the revenue more equally over time. I could see that need to secure 8,000+ screens might make it necessary to work out a deal with the theater owners more to their liking, but the notion that a studio would give 90% of the openning weekend to theaters is ludicrous. Even if you correlate openning weekend box-office to lifetime revenue from a film, giving up that money would be a ridiculous marketing expense considering how little theater owners can do to actually boost attendance. (Unless the studios are secretly circumventing anti-trust laws and own the theaters as part of a vast conspiracy...) This is why theater owners loved type 3 hits like Crocodile Dundee, because those films filled the seats in week 5 when their cut was closer to 50%.

Will Page


The updated point within the original post is an interesting one. I have an example from the music industry which might help build the debate further.

I spoke to a tech company recently about a business model they were building which would send advance copies of an album (lets say Robbie Williams) down the mobile phone of a demographic-target Japanese audience. They were pitching / selling the model to majors on the basis that advance notices of the album distributed via the phone would help front load sales to ensure a good chart placing - think of the bad press

The premium that would be paid to the tech company by the record companies to ensure a hit was a hit, even if it was simply front loading dwindling sales, was CONSIDERABLE. Point being there are many ways for the Long Tails natural opponents to hide its effects. Maybe there is a similar incentive period argument here, maybe its just the ego of artists and labels to be number one - although I personally don't see the relevance of 'hit' charts anymore.

Will P

John I.

There is a French expression describing the situation about the "Hollywood Bolckbuster Superhit Era" and its related (more and more rare) peaks,

C' est le chant du signe....

usb sticks

As a sequel, it had much to live up to the glory of the first film, and personally, I thought it had done rather well. The special effects on Bill Nighy (Davey Jones) and his pirate crew was perhaps the best; it was very realistic. The movie had a bit of a slow start, but overall was a wonderful film. Johnny Depp did well in his portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow, as previously in the first film. Keira Knightley and Bill Nighy were also of mentionable performances. I thought Orlando Bloom was a little wooden, as I thought of his performance in the first film, but still believable and he managed to pull it off. The ending which was rather interesting, served its purpose in suspense. It left the audience hanging, and it also left me hanging in a buzz of questions. I'm extremely eager to see the next Pirates of Caribbean film. However, the film did contain quite a number of references to the first film, The Curse of the Black Pearl, and I advise you to recap your knowledge of the first film and re-watch it to get the gist.

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The Long Tail by Chris Anderson

Notes and sources for the book

FREE was available in all digital forms--ebook, web book, and audiobook--for free shortly after the hardcover was published on July 7th. The ebook and web book were free for a limited time and limited to certain geographic regions as determined by each national publisher; the unabridged MP3 audiobook (get zip file here) will remain free forever, available in all regions.

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