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C. Alan Joyce

Lights, Camera, Movie Data!

September 17, 2010 —
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Recently, as students head back to school, we’ve written quite a bit about Wolfram|Alpha’s mathematics capabilities. But those of you who don’t have quite as much interest in, say, transfinite cardinal arithmetic, can rest assured that we haven’t stopped adding more general pop culture data to the system.

One of our latest features is detailed U.S. box office data, with information on total, weekend, and in many cases even daily receipts for motion pictures. So if you want to see how a recently released film is doing in theaters, just ask about its box office totals. For example, try “eat pray love box office“. Or maybe you’d like to look back and compare some of the summer’s biggest blockbusters. Try “box office for iron man 2, toy story 3, inception” for a quick comparison; to make it even easier to compare several films released on different dates, click the “Show by weeks since release” button to align the movies’ start dates. In this case, it’s easy to see that although Iron Man 2 had the strongest opening of the three, its revenue also fell off more steeply in the following weeks.

Box office for iron man 2, toy story 3, and inception

You’re not limited to films released this summer, of course—if you’re a fan of director Christopher Nolan’s work, you might like to see how well Inception compares to his previous directorial effort, The Dark Knight. Or maybe you’d like to compare two other cinematic heavy-hitters to see which one held the #1 box office rank longer.

The “Box office performance” pod contains up to 10 additional properties (click “More” to see them all), including statistics like the highest rank and best weekend box office performance attained by each film. Click the “Show history” button in this pod to generate history plots for most of this data.

Highest box office ranks for the movie Marmaduke

In addition, whenever sufficient data exists, Wolfram|Alpha can also do some higher-level analysis of long-standing movie franchises. Try “batman movies box office” or “james bond movies box office” to see how these cinematic legends have fared over the years.

As always, we hope you’ll try your hand at building some cool new Wolfram|Alpha widgets with this data. Here’s one to get you started:

Check back early each week to see the latest available stats for movies currently in release, and let us know if you come up with any interesting comparisons or new widgets that utilize this data. So how did your favorite summer movie fare at the box office?


The nature of Wolfram Alpha is such that it will for the foreeable future use data and algorithms that would lead to complaints about the results if Wolfram Alpha was not free, I suggest that W|A data up to the standards for Mathematica be combined with Mathematica to form a new chargeable program called ‘Wolfram Scientifica’
W|A could then be used as a testbed for new data and algorithms which when curated to Scientific standards would be included in Wolfram Scientifica..This would provide further funds for the expansion of W|A.
Brian Gilbert, Volunteer Curator.

Posted by Brian Gilbert September 18, 2010 at 10:09 am

Coming from someone who works for the movie industry this will provide an excellent quick reference guide to box office stats.

I’m wondering if this could be applied to ranking the impact of social media campaigns on branding? If it could, that would be a game changer for agencies, and enterprises looking to implement a digital strategy

Posted by Tom E September 19, 2010 at 5:57 am

Doesn’t work very well.

Posted by Myopia September 19, 2010 at 11:15 am

    W|A does work well with scientific queries particularly if you follow the rules for input in the Mathematica documentation.

    In other areas it is pioneering and is a bargain at the price. You can make specific comments by the many ‘Feedback’ links to speed the improvement. This is more challenging than most video games and more satisfying.

    Posted by Briangilbert September 21, 2010 at 9:21 am

[…] more popular “everyday” areas: information about health and medicine, housing prices, movies, school districts, jobs, crime, and much […]

Posted by Wolfram|Alpha Blog : Wolfram|Alpha Changes Its Name June 8, 2011 at 9:19 am