Essays On The U.S. Motion Picture Industry

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This dissertation consists of a collection of essays about the U.S motion picture industry. Psychology literature proposes that emotional product attributes are central to the quality of movie consumption experiences. However such processes have been overlooked in the estimation of movie demand and quality reviewing. Chapter 1 calibrates emotional content of a movie via a bag-of-words approach which maps a movie's plot keywords onto a set of basic human emotions. An emotional content vector is combined with other movie characteristics to build a random utility demand model for movies. The findings indicate that consumers prefer emotional variety and moderate levels of emotional complexity rather than incoherent differences. Also, the value of emotional attributes in movies is influenced by macroeconomic variables, potentially via their impact on consumer moods. As a confirmatory and supplementary analysis Chapter 1 also analyses preferences of a group of individual consumers, who rate movies online. This estimation replicates several findings from the aggregate demand model and generates further insights into consumer tastes which vary by demographic characteristics. Chapter 2 builds on the literature which identifies the roles of movie critics as influencers of consumer choice and predictors of movie revenue by proposing a third role for movie critics: that of evaluators who signal movie quality independently of profit potential or commercial success. The relevance of this role is assessed by establishing whether critics' incentive structures favor reviews for artistic movies which are systematically different from those of commercial movies. To this end, critics' ratings are compared with audience ratings: The positive correlation between average critics' reviews and audience reviews decreases for highly-artistic movies, which is consistent with the evaluator role permeating critical reviewing for such movies. Chapter 3 investigates why the simple mean of critics' ratings for movies with an African American in the lead role is lower than movies with a white actor in the lead. Sources of this discrepancy can include differences in movie production and marketing expenditures, type of movie (i.e. genre, MPAA rating, emotional content, artistic and popular appeal), how good the actors are, audience tastes and timecontingent preferences of critics and audiences. Despite inclusion of these controls, results in Chapter 3 suggest that critics' ratings for movies with African American leads are up to 6 points lower and that critics favor movies where African Americans are featured in supporting roles rather than lead roles.
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