Light-based media

Data-driven script analysis

The New York Times profiles Vinny Bruzzese, one of the only entrepreneurs to offer data-driven script analysis services to Hollywood studios. His process isn’t explained in any real depth, which makes me hugely skeptical.

For as much as $20,000 per script, Mr. Bruzzese and a team of analysts compare the story structure and genre of a draft script with those of released movies, looking for clues to box-office success. His company, Worldwide Motion Picture Group, also digs into an extensive database of focus group results for similar films and surveys 1,500 potential moviegoers. What do you like? What should be changed?

“A cursed superhero never sells as well as a guardian superhero.”

His recommendations, delivered in a 20- to 30-page report, might range from minor tightening to substantial rewrites: more people would relate to this character if she had a sympathetic sidekick, for instance.

Script analysis is new enough to remain a bit of a Hollywood taboo. Major film financiers and advisers like Houlihan Lokey confirmed that they had used the service, but declined to speak on the record about it. The six major Hollywood movie studios declined to comment.

But doors are opening for Mr. Bruzzese nonetheless, in part because he is such a character. For instance, he bills himself as a distant relative of Einstein’s, a claim that is unverifiable but never fails to impress studio executives.

The Worldwide Motion Picture Group website is full of opaque business jargon if you want to ‘learn more’:

Through our consultation, you have an opportunity to utilize MPG’s extensive and relevant experience in motion picture research and creative advisory services for strategic consulting on your theatrical releasing of movies – from script to screen. Our services start from the inception of an idea and continue all the way up to the point where the audience exits the theater. We offer retainer consultancies where we behave as a member of your team: answering questions and testing the market to help you make the best choices for your film’s production and distribution.

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