I decided to use my newly installed Stumble-Upon feature to Firefox this evening. The idea is that you tick the boxes for topics that you are interested in and by clicking the Stumble button it will open up a new tab taking you to a random site that falls into an area of interest to you.
With the wealth of knowledge available on the web, this is a great tool that will certainly become a regular thing for me, allowing you to browse the net with no particular purpose. I have been doing this for quite some time within Wikipedia by clicking a link on their front page that I would be interested in reading and then follow further links found within that article to expand my knowledge.
Stumble-Upon would simply expand upon this idea and open up a huge chunk of the web.
In fact, the first web-site it took me to was great! Xach.com has a page that combined my interest in movies and my fascination with pretty graphs.
The page gives a wonderful graph (in both regular and logarithmic formats) that shows the weekly breakdown of box office takings in the USA:
"Each page displays trends in the top 25 movies at the box office for each weekend in a year. The color is based on the movie's debut week. Because of that, long-running movies will gradually start to stand out from newer movies with different colors. "
The result is very dynamic and shows the interesting trends in the progress in movie success. Looking at the takings of most films, they show a typical decrease week-on-week before disappearing off the list a month or two later. Notable exceptions in 2008 so far would be that of No Country for Old Men which gained takings week-on-week during the build up to the Oscars and the hype that surrounded it.
The graph also emphasises the HUGE takings that The Dark Knight has made so far in the US. It is interesting to compare the figures to that of Titanic in 1998. The Dark Knight started with its widely reported record breaking weekend and has subsequently halved its takings each week since. Titanic, on the other hand, did not have such a spectacular launch but rather took a very healthy $20-£30 million every week for months on end (staying at number 1 in the US in doing so). I wonder if this is a reflection of the way in which the movie industry has changed in the past 10 years, or simply the spending trends of the movie-going public?
With Hollywood trying to put a stop (or at least limiting the damage) of illegal downloading, I would not be surprised if they would try to get people in the seats faster by building more hype around their films than in days gone by. This would ensure that they would retrieve as much money they could before the Internet community could spread the footage free across the globe. The sharp fall of in takings by recent films like Iron Man and Indiana Jones 4 after their opening week does suggest this.
Alternatively, it may be consumers that are making the decision to spend their money sooner rather than later. Even with the Credit Crunch threatening, consumer spending does still seem to be strong within certain markets. With financial institutions warning people to limit their luxuries, perhaps trips to the local cinema is one of the cheaper and most accessible luxuries and one people will hold onto. In fact, it might be fair to say that cinemas might be one of the few recession-proof industries out there at the moment.
And the stumble continues....