In March, Purdue held its first virtual Undergraduate Research Conference. Ryan Myers, a recent graduate of finance and management, placed 1st within the Krannert School of Management for his research talk. He presented his project, “Predicting Movie Profitability” with his research mentor Arthur Alexander, a lecturer in quantitative methods in Krannert.
This project focused on finding an accurate way for studios to predict the potential profitability of a film. They sought to take various characteristics of a film – budget, actors, MPAA rating, genre, release date, Rotten Tomato score, IMDB score, previous material, and production style – and quantify these characteristics to assess the value of the project. “Being able to understand a movie’s box office potential would prove to be exceedingly valuable to movie studios,” Ryan said.
Ryan first started studying this topic at the end of his junior year. He had always had an interest in cinema and how the industry operates. “I started by searching for current financial practices in the entertainment industry,” he said. Towards the middle of his senior year, he began thinking of his own method to predict the financial outcome of a movie and started working with numbers to test his theory. “Through this project, I discovered my interest in quantitative analysis. I greatly enjoyed working with the large datasets to form predictions,” Ryan said. He added that seeing patterns form with each film characteristic was exciting. “Patterns appeared with each aspect and paved the way for understanding the final outcome.”
Ryan’s advice for students who are looking to get started in undergraduate research is to not get discouraged. “If you are just starting your undergraduate research, congratulations,” he said. At this point in your education, taking the initiative to begin research is excellent and you should be excited to test your hypothesis. “There was a time in the middle of my research where my hypothesis appeared to be impossible, but through some alterations to my initial idea, I was able to hurdle that obstacle. Do not let yourself be stopped by these difficulties and do not be afraid to deviate from your initial plans.”