Robust Estimation of the mAR Index of High Grossing Films at the US Box Office, 1935 to 2005

Nick Redfern

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    The modified autoregressive (mAR) index has been proposed as a description of the clustering of shots of similar duration in a motion picture. In this paper we derive robust estimates of the mAR index for high grossing films at the US box office using a rank-based autocorrelation function resistant to the influence of outliers and compare this to estimates obtained using the classical, moment-based autocorrelation function. The results show that (1) The classical mAR index underestimates both the level of shot clustering in a film and the variation in style among the films in the sample; (2) there is a decline in shot clustering from 1935 to the 1950s followed by an increase from the 1960s to the 1980s and a levelling off thereafter rather than the monotonic trend indicated by the classical index, and this is mirrored in the trend of the median shot lengths and interquartile range; and (3) the rank mAR index identifies differences between genres overlooked when using the classical index.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)277-291
    JournalJournal of Data Science
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 9 Mar 2014


    • autocorrelation
    • film editing
    • modified autoregressive index
    • robust methods


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