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January 9th, 2003

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04:24 am - Old-school multi-cut ten-pointer
Mostly lots of links to good things at the BBC.

1. The BBC quote the formula for happiness as enumerated by a hitherto-unknown life coach. Technically it's the formula for measuring happiness, not for achieving it, which is slightly less useful, though I suppose you need to know how to be able to measure happiness in order to tell whether you have become happier. Dave Gorman fans will already know the metric formula, but Pete Cohen's version reads:
Happiness = P + (5xE) + (3xH)

where each of the values is self-assessed on a number of one-to-ten scales to produce a 10-100 overall score. My final score is a completely middling 55. What does that mean? The explanation, the questions and my answers.

Unambitiously, but relatively realistically, the P, E and H values represent aspects of your life situation which might affect your happiness. The BBC explain it best: "P stands for Personal Characteristics, including outlook on life, adaptability and resilience. E stands for Existence and relates to health, financial stability and friendships. H represents Higher Order needs, and covers self-esteem, expectations, ambitions and sense of humour." If you want to play along at home, score yourself on the following questions and plug in the numbers.

1. Are you outgoing, energetic, flexible and open to change?

In order: less than I feel that I should be, considerably less than I feel that I should be, slightly less than I feel that I should be and not as much as I feel I could be. Looks like a 4/10 to me.

2. Do you have a positive outlook, bounce back quickly from setbacks and feel that you are in control of your life?

Er... crikey. Let's just cut the details out and jump straight to the conclusion. 3/10.

(Add together the scores for 1 and 2 to get a 2-20 score for P.)

3. Are your basic life needs met, in relation to personal health, finance, safety, freedom of choice and sense of community?

Safety, yes; health, slightly less than usual at the moment; choice, only up to a point; finance, probably not but I'm not worrying unduly about this; community, only to a limited extent though rather better online than in person. That's got to be worth 6/10.

(This is your score for E.)

4. Can you call on the support of people close to you, immerse yourself in what you are doing, meet your expectations and engage in activities that give you a sense of purpose?

Some of these yes, some of these no. "Immerse yourself in what you are doing", thumbs up. "Meet your expectations", acceptably frequently though alas not nearly always. The "sense of purpose" qualification is the main stumbling block here. "Close to you" is dubious too: online I score strongly (and rather more strongly than I did eight months ago; thanks, Livejournal!) but offline I score fairly weakly about 220 days per year. Another 6/10, perhaps.

(This is your score for H.)

So I get 4 + 3 + ( 5 x 6 ) + ( 3 x 6 ) which works out at 55 - half-way between the all-1s 10 and the all-10s 100, but I would innately expect this to be lower than the median score of the population. (Of course, I have no data to work from. If you'd care to estimate your score on the scale, I'd certainly be interested to see it.)

There's another way to try to turn happiness into a statistic, starting from the opposite premise - a self-assessed depression score, possibly via the Burns Depression Checklist (per fivemack). Currently I'm an 11 on that; last time I tried this I think I was somewhere around 14 or 15, so it's reasonable to conclude that a trip to Edinburgh for the New Year with lots of nice gamers does help. Well, that's all right, then. I'd have been singularly unimpressed with the methodology if it didn't.

2. ericklendl mentioned it recently, but my old favourite ad for John Smith's Bitter springs to life as divers are now indeed allowed to participate in top bombing. bateleur pointed out off-LJ the particularly jovial photo and caption at the bottom.

3. World sports fans wanting to get a better impression of why football is so favoured in this country might care to study the outlandish, outrageous, unique and frequently laughter-ridden commentary given by Stuart Hall, formerly known for laughter-ridden commentary on obstacle-race team game show It's A Knockout. For a little while longer, at least, you can hear him narrate a half-hour radio documentary about outlandish local radio football commentary called He's Hit The (beep)ing Post - note that my link will start the show. Alternatively, you can just cut to the funny clips themselves. (There's one of them I don't like, as you may be able to tell.) If anyone could reciprocate with similar mad commentary from other countries and/or other sports then that would be much appreciated.

4. Another audio-on-demand highlight that's only hanging round until Saturday is Northern Lights, the first of the three books in the His Dark Materials trilogy. Saturday sees the broadcast of the sequel, so get in there quickly. 2 hours 26 minutes, spending most of the time on the start and the end of the book and inevitably missing out a lot of the enjoyable little side roads on the way, but probably the best job as they could have done in the time available. On the downside, the BBC are using some sort of Real solution which decides to choose its own transmission rate. Unfortunately it sporadically decides to drop to 500-1000 cps (even on an uncontended fast connection) which wouldn't trouble an old 9600 modem. The quality at 500-1000 cps is surprisingly good considering how little data there is, but little better than a telephone broadcast over a PA system heard underwater. Has nobody invented SpeechML so that a sophisticated text-to-speech client might provide the appropriate accents and inflections to dictate a text stream provided as appropriately marked-up text? Not quite. Oh well. Still worth a listen if you like the sound of it - er, the concept of it.

5. dr4b points to dj BAD's Music Store Room with downloads of music from lots of Bemani games. You can improvise your own Bemani 3-65 only without the full-length cuts of the songs. I was particularly amused by a "KCP Happy Mix" of Tubthumping by Chumbawamba which accelerates the lyrics to 150%, ericklendl stylee, and removes any credibility that the song ever had as a protest anthem. (I have half a feeling that the Smurfs might have covered it already. Even if I'm getting confused and making this up, it's still a funny thought.)

6. The gentleman's game comes to LiveJournal! Join the morningtoncrescent fun (per tromboneborges) and show us how it's really played. Even if you've only previously taken an interest from a distance, dabble your feet in the water and get your toes wet. Just make sure to mind the gap, OK?

7. First thing I heard about air crashes today was that there were fewer lives lost to them in 2002 than in any year since 1947. Not the most auspicious day to have announced that fact, I fear. :-(

8. Would someone knowledgeable explain box office figures to me, please? We hear stories about the first HP movie taking $312 million at the Box Office and costing $130 million to make. However, I'm just not sure how much of the $312 million will actually get back to WB and what sort of multiple needs to be made for WB to actually recoup their money. After all, the cinemas must take their cut out of the box office receipts, right? Or is the $312 million figure only what WB earned as a result after the cinema chains took their cut? There's so much I don't understand here.

9. Per sbisson, Google's AdWords estimates that an ad triggered by a search for chris dickson would receive a full tenth of a click per day, which is more than that received by jiggery pokery and jiggery-pokery let alone jiggery_pokery. I'd have expected chris dickson to be higher, particularly at the moment due to the progress of everyone's favourite so-named yachtsman.

Speaking of which, the best-of-nine absolute final of the Louis Vuitton Cup between Chris Dickson's Oracle BMW Racing and Alinghi starts on Saturday. Oracle qualified by losing to, er, Alinghi in the single-chance group final 4-0 (but, naturally, he wasn't trying) and then by defeating the winner of the double-chance group (OneWorld) by the unusual margin of four to minus one. A convincing victory, then.

10. Lots of happy people getting unexpected amounts of snow in London this morning. Middlesbrough had the faintest of coatings on its coldest surfaces 24 hours ago, but it melted overnight. Might get another cold snap in February yet...
Current Mood: finely balanced on a knifeedge
Current Music: Tubthumping (this remix possibly by Pinky and Perky)

(5 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:January 8th, 2003 08:46 pm (UTC)
I would comment on those football play-by-play clips; unfortunately, I have gone mad.



[User Picture]
Date:January 9th, 2003 05:17 am (UTC)
1. I believe the formula should read:

Happiness = (P + (5xE) + (3xH) + (40xA)) / 5

5. Do you enjoy doing algebra for no good reason?

(This is your score for A)

In all seriousness, whilst the elements of the formula might be useful for identifying areas that can be improved to make you happier, the raw score seems to be of no use at all. If you're happy, you know it - if you're unhappy, you know it. Dave Gorman aside, there's no point in putting a number on it.

3. Like an outgrowing radish? - this was broadcast on Christmas Eve, and I made a definite point of hearing it then. Very enjoyable, but not nearly enough Cambrisgeshire-based action for my liking.

4. I might. It'll help me procrastinate watching the second half of Fellowship of the Ring, but I suspect that finding one heavy going implies a similar result for the other.

5. That's an old game - it's nice to have a stylee named after me, but no.

6. Didn't we actually beat the Americans at MC in Stamford, if I remember rightly? I now realise that it can't have been any of my doing - I was but a boy trying to play a man's game. And I ought to have been playing Mornington Crescent instead.

10. We had a five minute flurry round here yesterday, but not enough to settle for any length of time. Good - can't really be doing with snow.
[User Picture]
Date:January 9th, 2003 07:45 am (UTC)

Hollywood math

You have stumbled upon one of the great American mysteries - Hollywood box office. For some strange reason in the last 10+ years has become obsessed with the grosses of film, especially in the opening week. This is absolutely asinine, though I must admit I was once a rabid follower. Why does it matter how much a movie makes or costs? We don't see any of the profits. The tickets to costlier films cost the same as micro-budget indies (as opposed to the size of theaters). A lot of the people fixated on the box office don't see 90% of the stuff that's on it. When they do they almost always see the wrong thing, but that's a different discussion. Movie studios want the publicity of being able to say the #1 movie in America/the World and to say they had the most successful film of x-period of time. They've been known to miraculously come up with an extra $500,000 (or much . much more) to put them on the top of the weekend box office. It's deplorable.

In regards to your actual question:
The accepted gross of a film to be considered a success is 3x the budget. This is the point when you've covered the budget, theater cut, and most importantly the advertising. Advertising budget is the great hidden cost of a film. It doesn't count as part of the actual production budget (e.g. $130 million) In the case of a film with the size of HP, was probably north of $50 million stateside alone. For a smaller film like Equilibrium, the advertising budget is closer to say $25. Generally for a major studio release you can expect advertising cost = about a third of production budget. In the case of say Blair Witch or My Big Fat Greek Wedding, where a big stink is made about how cheap they were vs how much money was made, the advertising budget far exceeded the actual cost of production.

In terms of theater cut, that's even more convoluted. Movie theaters in America (no idea about the rest of the world) actually get a very small percentage of the box office. That's why refreshments cost $1000. Each year theaters see less and less of the box office, especially the opening weekend. Movie studios take a huge percentage of opening weekend gross (I'm trying to remember and having troubles finding sources, but I think it's something like 70% or more). Each subsequent week the percentage goes down. Supposedly the final take ends up being a 50-50 split of total gross. I'd be very surprised if that was true, especially with a movie the size of HP.

There are other factors as well. A lot of movies are distributed by studios but made by independent production companies (I cannot even begin to get into what constitutes independent). Before the production company sees any money, the distributor takes their (huge) cut. For a major studio release like HP, Warner Brothers distributed themselves and will see all that money. You must also account for foreign box office. Worldwide, HP took in $1 billion+. Chances are that the American gross of $312 million, made the film break even or close to it. That means there's about $600 million in pure profit heading straight for WB. That's before video/dvd rentals and sales and lord knows about the toys etc.

This may seem unbelievable, but the case of HP is actually a simpler one. When there are big name actors/directors/producers involved, the back-end cut comes into play. That's when someone takes an up front salary cut (not always the case, now they take everything up fron and a chunk off the back) for a percentage of the gross (not the net). All that money is sucked out before the studio sees anything. It's interesting to see how some of these high paying guys hold up against, say, Daniel Radcliffe.

Hollywood is known for having the shadiest book keeping around. In the end, almost all major studio movies make money with video rentals. That's why they can keep spending so much for so little a return. It goes on and on.

Let's see if this comes in under the limit.
[User Picture]
Date:January 9th, 2003 08:59 pm (UTC)

Re: Hollywood math

Thanks. An interesting survey of the situation which looks very thorough to me. (Incidentally, there's a link at Bloomberg magazine suggesting that Bloomsbury are hoping to publish OotP in July, in connection with Scholastic etc. They quote a worldwide box office figure of US$ 966 large for the first HP movie.)

I perceive that cinema ticket prices are actually going down even though - as you point out - refreshment etc. prices are ridiculously high. Someone told me about the existence of $1 movie theatres in the US, where I can't see how they can possibly make money from cheap gits like me who come to a cinema for the movie alone and never buy anything else there. The local UGC cinema (ten-screen multiplex - huge legroom, lots of advertisements before the main feature... ah, that could be the trick) operates a scheme whereby for GBP 120 you can see unlimited movies for a year. There doesn't even seem to be a catch, like you have to book in advance or there are only three tickets for unlimited movies viewers per movie.

I thought part of the gimmick of Blair Witch was that as well as the movie having been extremely cheap to make, almost all the advertising was word-of-mouth and online thus keeping the marketing budget similarly small too?

Thanks for the link. I particularly like the way the numbers of Lebanese admissions were noted. It also illustrates that Mike Myers getting a fortieth of a gigabuck for Austin Powers 3 wasn't quite as record-settingly, outlandishly high as I thought it was.
[User Picture]
Date:January 10th, 2003 10:52 am (UTC)

Re: Hollywood math

Who knew those Lebanese were such movie folk?

$1 movie theaters are a strange and welcome entity over here. They only play movies that are no longer in the gigantic chains (each of the major multi-plexes near me have 20 theaters). The dollar theaters get the also rans, the stuff that made 0 money at the big stuff, or they get big movies way after release. The theaters themselves are very second rate as they are usually older movie houses that can't afford the larger print-runs, sounds systems, etc., or they have been bought out by the bigger chains to squeeze the last dollar out of people without taking up space in "the big time". These places do major family business for people who don't want to pay the big prices just to see "Lilo & Stitch" with 25 kids. Many times these places show big movies well after they've been released on video. I like them mainly because they give me a chance to see the middle of the road pictures in the dead season (Feb-Apr).

Initially a lot of the Blair Witch buzz was internet and word of mouth, but the studios got wind of it pretty quick.When people started sleeping over night on the lines at theaters in the middle of nowhere, the studios knew they had something. After that Blair Witch advertising was everywhere. I'd seen that up-the-nose shot so many times, I felt like her doctor. I've heard a few speculations about the marketing costs being around $10 million, though I'm not sure any of them had much in the way of real sources. Still $10 million vs a domestic take around the $175 million+ isn't too shabby.

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