Journal of Cultural Economics

, Volume 36, Issue 2, pp 141–166 | Cite as

Movie stars and box office revenues: an empirical analysis

  • Randy A. NelsonEmail author
  • Robert Glotfelty
Original Article


This paper examines the relationship between star power and box office revenues using box office data from nine countries and a continuous measure of star power based on the number of visits to a star’s web page on IMDB, the most popular web site for movie-related information. The degree of star power is computed for the top star, top three stars, and the director for the films in our sample. The results indicate that replacing an average star with a top star would increase revenues by an average of $16,618,570, while replacing three average stars with three top stars would increase revenues by an average of $64,410,381.


Motion picture industry Box office revenue Movie stars 

JEL classification

L82 Z11 



We are indebted to an anonymous referee and Andreas Waldkirch for very helpful comments that substantially improved the paper and to the Douglas Chair Fund for financial assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsColby CollegeWatervilleUSA

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