Judgment Aggregation in Creative Production: Evidence from the Movie Industry

51 Pages Posted: 12 Sep 2019 Last revised: 19 Sep 2019

See all articles by Hong Luo

Hong Luo

Harvard Business School - Strategy Unit

Jeffrey T. Macher

Georgetown University - McDonough School of Business

J. Michael Wahlen

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management

Date Written: September 18, 2019

Abstract

This paper studies a novel, light-touch approach to aggregate judgment from a large number of industry experts on ideas that they encounter in their normal course of business. Our context is the movie industry, in which customer appeal is difficult to predict and investment costs are high. The Black List, an annual publication, ranks unproduced scripts based on anonymous nominations from film executives. While low participation costs enable a high response rate from busy executives, this results in a trade-off, as the nominations lack standard criteria, and which voters see which ideas may be unobservable and affected by various factors. Despite these challenges, we find that such an approach to aggregation is predictive: listed scripts are substantially more likely to be released than observably similar but unlisted scripts, and, conditional on release and investment levels, to generate higher box office revenues. We also find that the results differ by the writer’s experience level: (i) scripts from less-experienced writers are, in fact, more likely to be listed and to rank higher if listed; (ii) but even though being listed is associated with a higher release rate within less-experienced writers, the discrepancy in release probabilities relative to experienced writers remains large (even for top-ranked scripts). Both of these results can be explained by the idea that scripts from less-experienced writers are more visible among eligible voters.

Suggested Citation

Luo, Hong and Macher, Jeffrey T. and Wahlen, J. Michael, Judgment Aggregation in Creative Production: Evidence from the Movie Industry (September 18, 2019). Harvard Business School Strategy Unit Working Paper No. 19-082, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3451303 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3451303

Hong Luo (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School - Strategy Unit ( email )

Harvard Business School
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Jeffrey T. Macher

Georgetown University - McDonough School of Business ( email )

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202-687-4793 (Phone)

J. Michael Wahlen

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management ( email )

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Cambridge, MA 02142
United States

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