How Wikipedia Can Help Track Movie Buzz

Berenice Marlohe as Sévérine

Berenice Marlohe stars in the latest Bond film Skyfall as the mysterious femme fatale Sévérine. "The first time you see her she has a dark side," Marlohe teases in a Skyfall video blog.  

Scientists have found a correlation between activity on the online encyclopedia and a movie's success.

Social media such as Facebook and Twitter have proved handy -- if scientifically iffy -- tools for tracking advance movie buzz. Now, a new study out of Hungary finds that Wikipedia could prove equally if not more valuable than those other sites in predicting box-office performance.

The study -- undertaken at Budapest University of Technology and Economics and posted this week online --  says that by examining patterns of behavior on the communal encyclopedia, Hollywood execs can predict how a movie will perform up to a month before its release.

Examining 312 movies released in 2010, researchers considered a number of factors: page views, number of edits and editors to a film's entr and a third, more mysterious element they call "the collaborative rigor."

Graphing that data against the movies' financial performance offered compelling evidence of a direct correlation between Wikipedia "heat" and box-office take -- with accuracy rates between 77 percent and 90 percent. 

But hindsight, as they say, is 20/20. The study only applies to data retroactively; it doesn't apply the model to films that have yet to hit theaters.