Secret Algorithm Teaches Hollywood How to Never Lose Money Again

John CarterIt’s over! The possibility of Hollywood studios ever losing money again is over for good! And it’s all thanks to a Camel-smoking, Dr Pepper–drinking ex-SUNY statistics professor named Vinny Bruzzese. As the New York Times explains this morning, Bruzzese is “the reigning mad scientist of Hollywood,” and his company, the Worldwide Motion Picture Group, has finally gotten this whole prerelease movie analysis thing down to a science. And now studios are offering up to $20,000 per script to have Bruzzese hand over a 20-to-30-page report examining exactly where their blockbuster hopefuls will sink. So what kind of genius insight does the mad scientist possess?

I mean, listen to this stuff:

  • “Demons in horror movies can target people or be summoned. If it’s a targeting demon, you are likely to have much higher opening-weekend sales than if it’s summoned. So get rid of that Ouija Board scene.” It’s true, I am always seeing new movies with Ouija board scenes. Too many Ouija boards!
  • According to Bruzzese, if you have a bowling scene in your movie, it’s probably going to flop. Sorry, aspiring screenwriters: Drop all bowling out of your spec scripts now. Maybe add in some fast-pitch softball instead? Or a few rounds of Pogs?
  • “A cursed superhero never sells as well as a guardian superhero, [one like Superman who acts as a protector].” Huh. Well. I mean, you could point out here that Superman’s actually been sitting idly by while Batman took over the last decade in superheroism. But you’d be arguing in the face of the unimpeachable statistics of the Worldwide Motion Picture Group!

Why, just look at this track record: Bruzzese has consulted on drafts for the script for not only The Lincoln Lawyer, but Oz the Great and Powerful as well (as for whether any of his suggestions made it into the final product, the Times doesn’t actually say). And how do Bruzzese and the WMPG come up with these cold, hard, game-changing facts? Says the Times, the company “digs into an extensive database of focus group results for similar films and surveys 1,500 potential moviegoers.” Oh. So it’s just focus groups? But, like, more focus groups? Um, you know what, screenwriters? Maybe you’re OK with keeping one bowling scene in there. Just real quick, though.

Filed Under: Oz the Great and Powerful

Amos Barshad has written for New York Magazine, Spin, GQ, XXL, and the Arkansas Times. He is a staff writer for Grantland.

Archive @ AmosBarshad