Can actors alone increase Box Office grosses?


It’s now a time in Hollywood where very few names of actors and actresses (like less than five names) can carry a film alone toward Box Office success. At least according to an algorithm formula created by mathematician Nick Meaney, co-founder of Epagogix. For those who don’t know, Epagogix is a company that  brings together expertise in risk, finance, artificial intelligence and film analysis to create innovative tools and solutions for the hard decisions that senior company directors need to make. Meaney’s algorithm reveals that only 3 actors in Hollywood possess the star power to increase the Box Office gross for their films. Those actors are Brad Pitt, Will Smith and…. Johnny Depp. 

The way this algorithm works is it analyzes thousands of different factors relating to a certain project from the script. Are there clear bad guys? How much empathy is there with the protagonist? Is there a sidekick? The complex interplay of these factors is then compared by the computer to their interplay in previous films, with known box-office takings. The last calculation is what it expects the film to make. In 83% of cases, this guess turns out to be within $10m of the total.

It’s really hard to tell if this algorithm spells truth or not, especially considering it’s result in the three current hollywood stars. The fact the studios are actually hiring Epagogix to help determine which projects that should and should not get the green light tells me that they believe in this formula.


So let’s say this formula is legit, for argument sake. They’re saying that Brad Pitt, Will Smith and Johnny Depp are the only three actors that are capable of increasing a film’s box office result? They are certainly all fan favorites and have done great things in the past. But are their names alone powerful enough for a film to be profitable?

To me, Brad Pitt is no question a Box Office draw. The recent films his name headlined include World War Z and Moneyball. Both were successful financially and critically. No question here that Pitt has the star power.

Will Smith

Will Smith for all his criticism, I still believe is the box office draw. I know… I know… “After Earth was a flop“. Was it? Yes, it’s opening weekend the film made just $27.5 million which was bad, especially for a Will Smith film. It’s also his first blockbuster film to not open at #1. But “After Earth” went on to do well internationally and ended up making a small profit. All that being said, his last 12 blockbusters before “After Earth” were hits. He still very much has the talent and charm to entertain audiences, who happen to be demanding a “Bad Boys 3 “and “Hancock 2”.


Now it gets a little interesting with Johnny Depp, when looking at his recent films. His latest film “Transcendence” was a “flop” at the Box Office, making just $80 mil worldwide on a $100mil production budget.  However, the problem wasn’t Depp, rather the script and an inexperienced director. “The Lone Ranger” was another disappointment. The problem isn’t Depp’s performance in a role we seen him in many times. It’s when you (again) have a terrible script for a movie that was way too long. Depp’s talent is still strong, while his name may not be as strong thanks to the projects he’s choosing. A lot of his movie posters I see online and in theaters definitely highlight his name. He just needs to find that one project that will put him back on the map. Perhaps one Marvel Studios film in particular?

So overall I find this algorithm formula to be accurate as far as these three results. Are they the only ones in the industry though? I know that Jennifer Lawrence is a popular name fans like to throw in. I have no doubt she is on her way, but not right now. She simply hasn’t done enough as far as on her own, but she will get there.


Can you think of any names in Hollywood today that have major star power to carry a film on it’s own? I should also mention that the results also found one female actress who hurts every film she is in, though Nick Meaney refuses to reveal the name. Which actress could that be? Express your thoughts below! Thanks for reading.

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