Luís A. Nunes Amaral

co-Director, Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems
Professor of Chemical & Biological Engineering
Professor of Physics & Astronomy (by courtesy)
Professor of Medicine (by courtesy)

Chemical & Biological Engineering
2145 Sheridan Road (Room E136)
EvanstonIL 60208US
Phone: (847) 491-7850


The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) is one of the most-visited websites in the world and the premier source for information on films. Similar to Wikipedia, much of IMDb's information is user contributed. IMDb also allows users to voice their opinion on the quality of films through voting. We investigate whether there is a connection between user voting data and economic film characteristics. We perform distribution and correlation analysis on a set of films chosen to mitigate effects of bias due to the language and country of origin of films. Production budget, box office gross, and total number of user votes for films are consistent with double-log normal distributions for certain time periods. Both total gross and user votes are consistent with a double-log normal distribution from the late 1980s onward while for budget it extends from 1935 to 1979. In addition, we find a strong correlation between number of user votes and the economic statistics, particularly budget. Remarkably, we find no evidence for a correlation between number of votes and average user rating. Our results suggest that total user votes is an indicator of a film's prominence or notability, which can be quantified by its promotional costs.