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The Millionaire Next Door: Movie Critic

By Thomas J. Stanley on Jan 6th, 2011 in Current Events

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.

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