Making A Movie With Ranker

Anyone in the film industry will tell you that making Hollywood magic isn’t easy — and they’ll be even quicker to tell you that it isn’t cheap. The cost of producing a major motion picture has only gone up over the course of the last decade, putting more pressure on movie studios to deliver blockbuster hits that can recover massive investments. 

All that pressure makes measuring public opinion critically important to the process of making movies. Yet many studios are still relying on traditional, deeply flawed audience-testing methods like focus groups. But in the era of Big Data there are much easier, cheaper, and more advanced ways of doing things. With just one source of strong, unbiased consumer taste profiles, you can build a movie from scratch that is all but guaranteed to appeal to a sizeable movie-viewing audience — and we can prove it with Ranker Insights.

40 million people visit Ranker each month to vote in thousands of online polls about movies, TV shows, and more, which gives us unique insights into exactly what people want to watch — and what they don’t. We’re going to use all this unique psychographic data to create what we think would be a major hit, from deciding on a premise, to casting the stars, and even to the promotional product tie-ins. Once you see how easy it is, we bet you’ll never want to waste money on a focus group again.

Starting from Scratch

First comes the hardest part: what is this movie going to be about? If we were a real movie studio, we’d have access to original screenplays from established writers to run against our data and choose from. Unfortunately, Ranker is but a lowly digital media company — we have deep, rich data on the movies people have seen and want to see, but not much in the way of brand new films no one has heard of before. That’s why the movie we’re going to make will be a sequel to an older, beloved film.

Before you accuse us of lacking imagination, there’s plenty of good financial reason why so many of the movies that get made these days are reboots or sequels. Films based on intellectual property (IP) already have built-in audiences who identify with the characters before ever stepping into the theater, making them a relatively safe bet for cautious studios. Our own data bears that conclusion out: all but two of the top ten items on our list of “Most Anticipated Movies of Summer 2019” are sequels, reboots, or based on popular IP. 

Now the question becomes, “which movie do we reboot?” Our list of “Movies That Need Sequels” offers plenty of good ideas, but we’ll want to think carefully about which one we pick. For example, as much as we’d like another Beetlejuice, we’re not sure how up Michael Keaton would be for reprising the title role, especially now that he’s starred in two consecutive “Best Picture” Academy Award-winning films (Birdman in 2014 and Spotlight in 2015). 

The Fifth Element, on the other hand, has two stars who have proven more than willing to rehash their most popular movies — that franchise is Die Hard for Bruce Willis, Resident Evil for Mila Jokavich, and Rush Hour for Chris Tucker. It’s also a cult hit with a dedicated fan base that still has broad appeal, ranking at #35 on our list of “Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies” and #11 on the list of “The Best Alien Movies Ever Made,” beating out Return of the Jedi, Avatar, and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Based on all this evidence, we’d be confident putting our money behind a long-awaited sequel to this 1997 sci-fi classic.


Building a Cast

But of course, we can’t just rely on the stars from the previous movie. We need new talent who can embody new roles in the Fifth Element universe, especially since some of the primary characters from the original film didn’t make it to the end of the story. So how do we pick actors that we know Fifth Element fans will love? Through correlational data.

Ranker has more than just the results of online polls to go off of — all those results are aggregated and combined in Ranker Insights, allowing us to see correlations between fans of different movies, TV shows, and celebrities. For example, Ranker Insights shows us that fans of The Fifth Element are 6X more likely to love Simon Pegg, who could play a new ally of Korben and Leelo. Then again, the actor might relish the opportunity to play the bad guy — we can’t say we’d turn down an opportunity to the mind behind Hot Fuzz to show off his darker side. If Pegg isn’t up for it, producers can consider Jeff Goldblum, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, or Antonio Banderas, all of whom are 5X as likely to be beloved by Fifth Element fans. 

Anoher potential casting choices might include Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, as those who vote up Bruce Willis are 8X more likely to do the same for Dwayne. It might be a good career decision for The Rock — or a rival pro wrestler-turned-actor, Dave Bautista, recently earned a cushy spot in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with his role in a sci-fi blockbuster. There’s also former True Blood star Anna Paquin, an actor whom Milla Jovovich fans are 8X more likely to love. In fact, the two stars share something of a resemblance — maybe Paquin could play the daughter of Leelo and Dallas?

Endless Insights, Endless Possibilities

There’s almost no limit to what you can learn about your audience’s tastes through Ranker data. You could even use it to make major decisions about what the plot of the movie will be about. Ranker Insights tells us that people who liked The Fifth Element movie are more likely to love the movies Children of Men (5X), 28 Days Later (6X), Mad Max: Fury Road (6X), and 12 Monkeys (8X), as well as the video game Fallout 3 (4X). Noticing a pattern here? Seems like a sequel set in a post-apocalyptic future might do well with the original film’s audience.

You could also use Ranker’s psychographic data to market and promote the movie. While the producers should certainly look to the composer of the original soundtrack Eric Serra to score the new film, that doesn’t mean P!nk shouldn’t write a song to promote the movie — especially since Fifth Element fans are 4X more likely to vote up the pop singer. And if you’re looking to cross-promote with a popular brand, look no further than Taco Bell, which is 3X more likely to be beloved by the sci-fi film’s fan base. 

That’s our idea for a blockbuster summer movie. Think you can do better? Take a look at Ranker Insights or search through thousands of lists about movies on Ranker. And if you end up producing that Fifth Element sequel, remember to make out the royalty check to “Ranker LLC.”