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Are Hollywood Stars Worth the Price Tag?

By TJ Cole and Chris Foote

We investigate the effect of a lead actor’s popularity on the profitability of films. Google search data is used as a proxy for actor popularity. We then investigate if lead actor’s popularity has a different effect on movies that are not part of a sequel or franchise, and those that belong to specific genres. The most profitable movies are franchises and sequels. Movies are more
profitable when they are action movies rated G or PG, although in certain circumstances a small number of horror movies and musicals can be hugely profitable. We find that across all groups
of movies our proxy for lead actor popularity has no significant effect on a film’s profitability.

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Advisor: Dr. Michelle Connolly | JEL Codes: D2, D22

Questions?

Undergraduate Program Assistant
Jennifer Becker
dus_asst@econ.duke.edu

Director of the Honors Program
Michelle P. Connolly
michelle.connolly@duke.edu