Aug. 16, 2007 A film that wins critical acclaim is likely to be an R-rated drama, adapted from a prize-winning play or book and based on a true story, with the original author or director involved in writing the screenplay. It is unlikely to be a sequel or remake, a comedy or musical, a summer release, a big-budget project, have a PG-13 rating, open on numerous screens or do a big box office on the first weekend. It probably has an excellent score, but it may not have an award-winning song.
But box-office hits may have entirely different profiles.
Dean Simonton, a professor of psychology at UC Davis, has subjected thousands of feature-length, English-language, narrative films to a battery of statistical tests – including Pearson product-moment coefficients and hierarchical regression analyses – to get at the formula for cinematic creative triumph and box-office success.
Simonton, an expert on human creativity, is the author of "Origins of Genius: Darwinian Perspectives on Creativity." He is at work on a new book, "Great Flicks: Scientific Studies of Cinematic Creativity and Aesthetics."
"Exceptional creativity is frequently viewed as a highly individualistic phenomenon," Simonton said. "But there is at least one type of artistic expression that is extremely prominent, often highly profitable and inherently collective in nature: the feature film. Motion pictures provide a valuable research site for investigating group artistic creativity under real-world conditions."
Dean Simonton will summarize his research at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association on Friday, Aug. 17.
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