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Hollywood blockbusters and long-tailed distributions: An empirical study of the popularity of movies


  • Sitabhra Sinha

    (Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai, India)

  • S. Raghavendra

    (Madras School of Economics, Chennai, India)


Numerical data for all movies released in theaters in the USA during the period 1997-2003 are examined for the distribution of their popularity in terms of (i) the number of weeks they spent in the Top 60 according to the weekend earnings, and (ii) the box-office gross during the opening week, as well as, the total duration for which they were shown in theaters. These distributions show long tails where the most popular movies are located. Like the study of Redner [S. Redner, Eur. Phys. J. B \textbf{4}, 131 (1998)] on the distribution of citations to individual papers, our results are consistent with a power-law dependence of the rank distribution of gross revenues for the most popular movies with a exponent close to -1/2.

Suggested Citation

  • Sitabhra Sinha & S. Raghavendra, 2004. "Hollywood blockbusters and long-tailed distributions: An empirical study of the popularity of movies," Industrial Organization 0406008, EconWPA.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpio:0406008
    Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 4

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    Cited by:

    1. Chakrabarti, Anindya S., 2016. "Cross-correlation patterns in social opinion formation with sequential data," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 462(C), pages 442-454.

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    JEL classification:

    • L - Industrial Organization

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