Box office takings and platform data

Netflix got a whopping 34 nominations at the Golden Globes this year with three of it’s standout motion pictures, The Irishman, Marriage Story, and The Two Popes, getting 15 nominations between them. Despite this they only took home two awards; one for Laura Dern in Marriage Story, and one for Olivia Coleman in The Crown. The Irishman and The Two Popes were shut out completely.

There is another interesting numbers story from the night. At the time of writing these three films have made only $10M at the box office. I don’t think think there has ever been three films so well nominated, that have made so little money. The answer to this, of course, is subscriber acquisition; as Netflix only put on the screenings to satisfy the demands of the Academy. This has angered industry veterans, and perplexed some industry analysts. But either way, this trend is probably here to stay.

The story that interests me is the one about platform data. How platforms like Netflix and Spotify are eroding the value of previously open systems like the Top 40 or box office receipts, and ultimately replacing them with their own systems which are closed and proprietary. Box office gross is no longer a vector we can use to analyse the success of a film, and the Top 40 is massively influenced by a discovery engine that Spotify controls.

Supposedly the new decade is going to bring with it new regulatory powers to stem the power of big tech. And while the anecdote above is hardly the most pressing concern, it highlights how imposing some rules around open data (and data portability) would be a step in the right direction.

Daniel Bower

Product manager turned student. Currently researching algorithms, platforms, interoperability and kill zones at DDH. Read more about me.