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Can Exponential predict the Best Picture Oscar winner?
The Oscars are voted for by a group of around 5,800 people that the Los Angeles Times discovered are much less diverse than the average film-going public – they’re older (86% are over 50), white (94%) and male (77%).
Based on its own data, Exponential knows that this select group tend to have a love of sports cars, high-end clothing and exotic travel destinations. Thus, Exponential can predict which film this group are likely to vote for based on the interests – analysed through web surfing habits - of thousands of people with these same demographics and interests, aka ‘lookalikes’.

Four Non-Contenders

There are nine films up for Best Picture but, based on lookalike modelling, Captain Phillips, Her, Philomena, and Nebraska, have almost no chance of winning. Fans of Captain Phillips, for example, have high regard for films like Warm Bodies (a romantic zombie comedy) and The Last Stand (a Schwarzenegger action film with Johnny Knoxville). The fan base of Her are far too into science fiction and technology themes than would be acceptable for the average Oscar voter - nearly 20 times more likely.
While differing tastes among Oscar voters counts these films out, social status puts paid to the other two. Philomena fans are the least affluent of the nominees, being 2.8 times more likely to earn less than £30,000 a year. Nebraska is the true art house favourite, with a young urban audience that is decidedly aspirational – in fact, roughly half spend considerably more than they earn.

Two Near-Misses

Although serious contenders The Wolf of Wall Street (too selfish) and Dallas Buyers Club (too unselfish) won’t win either.
Fans of The Wolf of Wall Street play to a stereotype distasteful to the typical Oscar voter. They are very wealthy - 9.6 times more likely to earn more than £150,000 a year, 6.8 times more likely to be investment bankers, and 4.6 times more likely to buy an imported Italian suit – and also have a high interest in celebrities like Heidi Klum (10.7 times), Megan Fox (8.4 times), and Britney Spears (8.3 times).
At the other extreme, Dallas Buyers Club fans are a more caring type, one not really in sync with the stereotypes of Hollywood. They are the most likely to be expecting a child (11 times), to be dog owners (8.3 times), to be vegetarian (7.3 times) and to be primary school teachers (6.5 times).

The Three Challengers

The three remaining challengers - American Hustle, Gravity, and 12 Years a Slave – enjoy broad appeal, with none of the baggage of the other films. A simplistic demographic approach would suggest a narrow win by American Hustle over 12 Years a Slave. As viewers get older or wealthier, they increasingly prefer these films – in complete contrast to Gravity – but Caucasians are most likely to be fans of American Hustle.
However, people living in Los Angles – and in other major US cities – are more likely to be fans of 12 Years a Slave. American Hustle fans tend to be found in the next tier of cities such as Philadelphia, Denver and Phoenix.
So what comes out on top when considering all the demographic, social and interests: socially well-established older white men living in Los Angeles who (broadly speaking) have a love of sports cars, high-end clothing and exotic travel destinations?
Taking all the factors into account shows that 12 Years a Slave will narrowly beat American Hustle to Best Picture.


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