What Took So Long? An Analysis of Survival Times for Movie Sequels

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Alexander Hakemoller Marsh Colin Cannonier


Movie sequel windowing is one area that has been neglected in the existing economic literature. While there are many potential areas for economic research in the film industry, the lack of research specifically on sequels and their timing is rather surprising amidst the increasing saturation of sequels in the market place. Using a dataset constructed from an IMDb list and data from The Numbers, this research models the timing between sequels using an accelerated failure time survival model in order to understand when film studios decide to release a sequel. The results show that while film studios do release sequels quicker the more money the previous movie makes, the decrease in time is inelastic and not economically significant. The most significant factor that influenced timing between sequels was whether the movie was produced by the same studio as the previous movie. Time between sequels is increased 69% (752 days) whenever a different studio is producing the sequel. Similarly, time between sequels decreases by 45% (487 days) if the previous movie in the series was profitable, by 44% (482 days) if produced by a major film studio, and by 29% (319 days) if the movie or series is based on a preexisting work. The results are robust to a variety of sensitivity checks related to holiday releases, ratings, genres and period-specific effects. (L82, Z11)

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