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Happy Belated Birthday, QT

I was driving around the other day, trying to find a use for all the cranial capacity that goes un-utilized in my day to day life, and I started to wonder if there was some way to quantify some of my wholly unscientific views about Hollywood. Specifically, why some directors it seems can do no wrong, while others specialize almost exclusively in churning out multi-million-dollar pieces of shit. (One could also question why shitty directors keep getting work, but that way lies madness.) Fortunately, we now possess an unambiguous and statistically reliable means of quantifying how good movies are.


To give everyone budget parity, only movies released since 1990 are included, and to ensure good statistics (and keep Spike Lee’s dataset from being massive) only movies with more than 10,000 IMDb ratings are included.

I realize this is a bit of trainwreck, but if you study it for a moment some interesting trends actually become apparent. For starters, only two directors’ lines have positive slopes, and Fincher’s is essentially flat. Wes Anderson, however, could apparently direct the greatest movie ever made, given $345 million. Contrast that with Kevin Smith, who could helm the worst movie in history for a mere $142 million.

Another point worth noting is that the y-intercepts of the trend lines actually bracket a fairly narrow range, from 6.92 (Michael Bay) to 8.28 (Quentin Tarantino). And these two directors bring me to my last observation, and maybe a bit of insight into what’s wrong with Hollywood. Their curve fits exhibit what I would imagine to be the typical Hollywood trend of higher budgets corresponding to lower overall quality, although their slopes aren’t nearly as steep as some of the bigger names (Spielberg and Lee). In fact, if you disregard the nauseating outlier that is Pearl Harbor, they both trend within their own fairly narrow “quality bands” of a little over a point each, although of course there’s no overlap. Michael Bay’s best is rated lower than Tarantino’s worst. And yet the most a studio has ever thrown at Tarantino is $70 million. Michael Bay has only headed up one movie under that mark.

So, why does Hollywood reward mediocrity? I don’t know. Does Hollywood reward mediocrity? You bet your ass.

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