Magazine March 21, 2011, Issue

Riding the B Train

Liam Neeson and January Jones in Unknown (Warner Bros.)

In their quest to transform the art of movie hitmaking into something like a science, the major Hollywood studios pay research firms to “track” their films before they open — cold-calling a sample of Americans every week and asking them which movies they’re aware are opening, and which films they’re interested in paying to go see. These numbers are to the movie business what polling is to horse-race politics: They set expectations, establish narratives, and tell the studios how effectively (or ineffectively) their messaging is getting out.

But like presidential exit polls, these surveys have their limits, and they have particular

In This Issue



Books, Arts & Manners


The Fischer King

A review of Endgame: Bobby Fischer’s Remarkable Rise and Fall — From America’s Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness, by Frank Brady.



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