To Review or Not to Review? Limited Strategic Thinking at the Movie Box Office Academic Article uri icon


  • Film studios occasionally withhold movies from critics before their release. These cold openings provide a natural setting to apply laboratory-developed models of limited strategic thinking to the field. In a set of 1,303 widely released movies, cold opening is correlated with a 1030 percent increase in domestic box-office revenue, and a pattern of fan disappointment, consistent with the hypothesis that some moviegoers do not infer low quality from cold opening. While selection and endogeneity may play a role in these regressions, the full pattern of results is consistent with level-k and cognitive hierarchy behavioral-game-theoretic models. (JEL D12, D82, L82, M37)

published proceedings

  • American Economic Journal: Microeconomics

altmetric score

  • 8.85

author list (cited authors)

  • Brown, A. L., Camerer, C. F., & Lovallo, D.

complete list of authors

  • Brown, Alexander L||Camerer, Colin F||Lovallo, Dan

publication date

  • May 2012