March 19, 2015

How Do You Know if a Film is Going to Be a Hit? Just Take a Look at the Stock Market

What factors influence the financial success of a film? Star power? Marketing? Humongous budgets? Sure, maybe. But one of the biggest factors is the state of the Stock Market.

What? What does Wall Street have to do with the entertainment industry. (Everything?) Well, in this short excerpt from the documentary History's Hidden Engine, which chronicles the science of socionomics (the study of "how social mood motivates social actions"), Robert R. Prechter, Jr. explains why certain genres of films perform the way they do depending on market trends.

If you've been through the ups and downs of the economy, chances are you've noticed certain trends forming up on the Big Screen. Studies have shown that action/family films tend to fare better in bull markets, while horror films tend to fare better in bear markets. That is, in times of  prosperity, audiences go to see action/family films, while in economic crisis and social unrest, audiences flock to horror films.

There are several theories as to why this occurs -- some focusing on the reasons why people go to the movies in the first place, whether it's for escapism, entertainment, or for a relatable, personal connection. Regardless of the reason, there's no denying that market trends influence what audiences want to go see, which, in turn, influences the movies studios are going to make.

Granted, this video only scratches the surface of the the correlation between market trends and the film industry, but understanding that the correlation exists in the first place is not only interesting, but important for the next time you want to make a film.     

Your Comment


I'd much rather know how the stock market is going to perform based on how the box office is performing. That'd let me fund even more films. ; )

March 19, 2015 at 10:22PM


While this video makes some interesting correlations, I think it's a bad idea to try and chase trends or markets or whatever. The trends that exist today, whether it's looking at the stock market or what types of movies are popular, could totally change by the time your movie is ready. You'll easily spend two to three years in development on a project (maybe more) before it sees the light of day. Who knows? The stock market could crash before your movie is ready (hopefully not). Then what? All you can do is make something that excites you and try to let your passion and excitement show in the end product.

March 20, 2015 at 10:12AM

Dale Raphael Goldberg

Women's skirt lines also rise and fall according to current economic trends. Been seen over many decades.

March 20, 2015 at 11:01AM

Jonathon Sendall

So you're telling me that cheaper horror films are made when there's less money available and more expensive ones are made when investment money is flush?

March 21, 2015 at 6:31PM

Ryan Gudmunson
Recreational Filmmaker