Journal of Cultural Economics

, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 43–63 | Cite as

The impact of film reviews on the box office performance of art house versus mainstream motion pictures

  • Gerda GemserEmail author
  • Martine Van Oostrum
  • Mark A. A. M. Leenders
Original Article


Critics and their reviews can play an important role in consumer decision making in general, and film choice in particular. In this study, we propose that consumers of art house movies are being led by film reviews when making a film choice (influence effect), whereas consumers of mainstream movies are hypothesized to rely mainly on other sources of information. Thus, in the latter case the review does not influence the moviegoer, but may still be a reflection of the ultimate success of the movie (predictor effect). Using the Dutch film industry as our empirical setting, we study the effects of reviews on the opening weekend and on the cumulative box office revenue. Our research shows that the number and size of film reviews in Dutch newspapers directly influence the behavior of the art-movie-going public in their film choice. The number and size of film reviews of mainstream movies, on the other hand, only predict movie performance.


Dutch art house movies Dutch mainstream movies Film critics Film performance 



We would like to thank the two anonymous reviewers and the editor of Journal of Cultural Economics for their useful suggestions to improve previous versions of this article. In addition, we would like to thank Piet Bakker (University of Amsterdam) and Tom Bakker (University of Groningen) for their help and suggestions with respect to the data collection in the newspaper industry.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gerda Gemser
    • 1
    Email author
  • Martine Van Oostrum
    • 1
  • Mark A. A. M. Leenders
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Strategy and EntrepreneurshipUniversity of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of Communication Studies, Amsterdam School of Communications ResearchUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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