Adding on to my new column in Taki’s Magazine, here are comparisons of the personality profiles of admirers of various movies that are often contrasted to each other, perhaps because they were Oscar contenders or because they came out the same year. In general, hit movies, and all of these ranged from “solid” to “spectacular” in box office returns, tend to fall in the broad middle ranges of psychological appeal.
For example, Robert Zemeckis’s Forrest Gump won Best Picture for 1994 over Pulp Fiction. Tarantino’s movie appealed to fans who ranked higher on Openness and lower on Agreeableness.
Harvey Weinstein-produced Shakespeare In Love, with a script by, among others, Top Stoppard, beat Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan for Best Picture. Shakespeare did much better on Openness, due to the remote period setting and difficulty of language, whereas WWII is probably the most easily comprehensible period for a period piece, requiring the least stretching from the viewer. In general, war movies score low on Neuroticism, in contrast to horror movies. People who identify with Rambo, say, tend to be pretty confident individuals:
Some movies are pretty similar in who they appeal to. Even though they are quite different in tone and tempo, the gangster classics The Godfather and Goodfellas appeal to similar audiences, with only moderate divergences. Godfather 2 tends to fall in between the original and Scorsese’s movie.
Similarly, Ridley Scott’s Alien and James Cameron’s sequel Aliens, while rather different to expert fans, are, in the big picture, similar in the type of audience they appeal to:
And here are two pairs of movies from the same year: the 1986 war movies Platoon and Top Gun, followed by Spielberg’s 1993 annus mirabilis pair Schindler’s List and Jurassic Park:
Top Gun is a pretty good example of a conservative military movie, appealing most to less open viewers, the highly conscientious, the extraverted, the agreeable, and the not very neurotic (despite having 55% female fans: women score much higher on Neuroticism). Platoon reflects Oliver Stone’s unusual personality, who volunteered for combat in Vietnam, where he was wounded twice. It ranks almost as high on Conscientiousness as the gung ho Top Gun, but low on Agreeableness.
Interestingly, Jurassic Park, despite being a monster smash, has a number of the hallmarks of a sci-fi movie, which it is, like low Extraversion.
The two 2007 Best Picture rivals, Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood with Daniel Day-Lewis, and the Coen Brothers’ No Country for Old Men, with Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, and Tommy Lee Jones, have somewhat different profiles, with There Will Be Blood being more extreme on all five personality dimensions: