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Frozen: Information Cascade to Success

What makes a movie popular? How do certain movies capture our society while others fail to generate the same profit? Movies are complicated. Their success can be attributed to their cast, directors and producers, marketing, and often times the “buzz” they create. While movie production teams are aware of the quality and name recognition of their cast and staff, despite marketing efforts, without societal “buzz” many movies still fail to be successful. Thinking of success as the prominence a movie has in society and peoples’ individual lives, can help us understand the importance of social impact and information, as players in a movie’s success. This aspect of movies’ success can be attributed in part to information cascades. Information cascade occurs when one’s decision is influenced by the decision made by others.

Traditional probability examples highlight the way information cascades operate. Take the example of an urn with red and blue marbles, where a sequence of students draws a marble from the bag, and makes a prediction about which color makes up the majority of marbles. If the first two people draw blue marbles, they will both guess that the bag is majority blue. Based on these guesses, regardless of the marble that person three draws, they will guess that the urn has a majority of blue marbles, and thus the information cascade has begun.  Information cascade occur not just as a result of social conformity or peer pressure, but can also evolve from rational thinking and decision making. Marketers often try to maximize the way information cascades start, to market their products.

Frozen has become one of the most popular recent movies. Its popularity is larger than the notable film awards it won, including Academy Awards and a Golden Globe. Its popularity stems in part from the information cascade and social influence that the film garnered. There was an information cascade created in part by marketing, but also from the social media buzz, both positive and negative, as well as the overall reach of the film. The popularity of the film, the relevance of the story and the popularity of the film score and songs, have created an overall information cascade that has encouraged the popularity and prevalence of Frozen to those who have watched the film and those who have not and might never plan to. The power of information cascades is their ability to affect the behavior of large groups in various situations.

Information cascades can be based on very little information. Therefore when a cascade starts early on with a large population, then it is the public information and the cascade information that effects the decisions and views of the majority of the population versus private information. While cascades can start of very quickly, this also makes them vulnerable and fragile. Therefore the fact that Frozen remained popular despite the possibility of the cascade ending due to opposing public information. While the success of Frozen is a sum of many parts, information cascades play a large role.


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