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The Effects of Online User Reviews on Movie Box Office Performance: Accounting for Sequential Rollout and Aggregation Across Local Markets

  • Pradeep K. Chintagunta

    ()

    (Booth School of Business, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60637)

  • Shyam Gopinath

    ()

    (Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 60208)

  • Sriram Venkataraman

    ()

    (Goizueta Business School, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia 30322)

Our objective in this paper is to measure the impact (valence, volume, and variance) of national online user reviews on designated market area (DMA)-level local geographic box office performance of movies. We account for three complications with analyses that use national-level aggregate box office data: (i) aggregation across heterogeneous markets (spatial aggregation), (ii) serial correlation as a result of sequential release of movies (endogenous rollout), and (iii) serial correlation as a result of other unobserved components that could affect inferences regarding the impact of user reviews. We use daily box office ticket sales data for 148 movies released in the United States during a 16-month period (out of the 874 movies released) along with user review data from the Yahoo! Movies website. The analysis also controls for other possible box office drivers. Our identification strategy rests on our ability to identify plausible instruments for user ratings by exploiting the sequential release of movies across markets--because user reviews can only come from markets where the movie has previously been released, exogenous variables from previous markets would be appropriate instruments in subsequent markets. In contrast with previous studies that have found that the main driver of box office performance is the volume of reviews, we find that it is the valence that seems to matter and not the volume. Furthermore, ignoring the endogenous rollout decision does not seem to have a big impact on the results from our DMA-level analysis. When we carry out our analysis with aggregated national data, we obtain the same results as those from previous studies, i.e., that volume matters but not the valence. Using various market-level controls in the national data model, we attempt to identify the source of this difference. By conducting our empirical analysis at the DMA level and accounting for prerelease advertising, we can classify DMAs based on their responsiveness to firm-initiated marketing effort (advertising) and consumer-generated marketing (online word of mouth). A unique feature of our study is that it allows marketing managers to assess a DMA's responsiveness along these two dimensions. The substantive insights can help studios and distributors evaluate their future product rollout strategies. Although our empirical analysis is conducted using motion picture industry data, our approach to addressing the endogeneity of reviews is generalizable to other industry settings where products are sequentially rolled out.

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File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/mksc.1100.0572
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Article provided by INFORMS in its journal Marketing Science.

Volume (Year): 29 (2010)
Issue (Month): 5 (09-10)
Pages: 944-957

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Handle: RePEc:inm:ormksc:v:29:y:2010:i:5:p:944-957
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  1. Bart J. Bronnenberg & Carl F. Mela, 2004. "Market Roll-Out and Retailer Adoption for New Brands," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 23(4), pages 500-518, September.
  2. Elberse, Anita & Anand, Bharat, 2007. "The effectiveness of pre-release advertising for motion pictures: An empirical investigation using a simulated market," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 19(3-4), pages 319-343, October.
  3. Anita Elberse & Jehoshua Eliashberg, 2003. "Demand and Supply Dynamics for Sequentially Released Products in International Markets: The Case of Motion Pictures," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 22(3), pages 329-354.
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  6. Whitney K. Newey & Kenneth D. West, 1986. "A Simple, Positive Semi-Definite, Heteroskedasticity and AutocorrelationConsistent Covariance Matrix," NBER Technical Working Papers 0055, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Andrew Ainslie & Xavier Drèze & Fred Zufryden, 2005. "Modeling Movie Life Cycles and Market Share," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 24(3), pages 508-517, November.
  8. Ramya Neelamegham & Pradeep Chintagunta, 1999. "A Bayesian Model to Forecast New Product Performance in Domestic and International Markets," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 18(2), pages 115-136.
  9. Charles C. Moul, 2007. "Measuring Word of Mouth's Impact on Theatrical Movie Admissions," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 16(4), pages 859-892, December.
  10. Andrews, Donald W K, 1991. "Heteroskedasticity and Autocorrelation Consistent Covariance Matrix Estimation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(3), pages 817-58, May.
  11. Sungjoon Nam & Puneet Manchanda & Pradeep K. Chintagunta, 2010. "The Effect of Signal Quality and Contiguous Word of Mouth on Customer Acquisition for a Video-on-Demand Service," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 29(4), pages 690-700, 07-08.
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