Recently a television reporter mentioned that 20% of the revenue generated by movie theaters occurs during the short 2 week holiday period in December. The euphoria of the holiday experience may cause one to lower his/her guard when evaluating the theater offerings. I almost made a bad mistake in this regard. I saw more than several advertisements for The Tourist, and I was intrigued by the cloak and dagger theme of the movie. Plus I think Johnny Depp is a fine actor. Then I read the comments by Joe Morgenstern, whom I consider an outstanding movie critic, about this movie in The Wall Street Journal.
Sometimes it can be grisly fun to watch a movie that’s been kept from view until the last moment because the studio knows it’s a stinker. This woefully botched mystery-adventure-thriller-caper-romance-comedy, or whatever it was meant to be, is no fun at all.
Over the years, I have made very few bad choices in allocating my money to movie theaters. Early in my teaching career, I happened to share a cab to the airport with one of America’s leading scholars on the diffusion of information and opinions. While discussing his research, I realized that many of his academic revelations certainly were applicable to choices made by the ultimate consumer. Here’s what it says in his high acclaimed book, Innovative Behavior and Communication:
If a movie is good, [it] . . . often relies heavily on personal influence [word-of-mouth endorsements]. If a movie is bad, it is shown in multiple runs. . . with heavy advertising in order to secure as much ‘adoption’ as possible before word spreads among moviegoers as to the film’s true merits.
Since that time, I am very skeptical about current movies which are heavily advertised and whose stars are on multiple talk shows. And I thank Professor Thomas S. Robertson, now dean of the Wharton School of Business, for helping me make enlightened decisions about my choice of movies.