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Audience-ology

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AUDIENCE-OLOGY by Kevin Goetz describes "How Moviegoers Shape the Films We Love." Goetz and his firm, Screen Engine/ASI, conduct research for the majority of widely released movies and in this text, he explains the history and logistics of test screenings. Goetz also shares stories of how audience feedback impacted films like La La Land and Moonstruck (changing the beginnings to include music); Thelma and Louise or Fatal Attraction. While he recounts tales of past innovations, Goetz barely addresses the potential changes to the industry due to new streaming platforms, relying instead on his thirty years of impressive experience in Hollywood. He is able to include commentary from film producers and directors like Ron Howard, but generally omits those (e.g., Tarantino or Eastwood) who see less value in pre-screening research. Even then, AUDIENCE-OLOGY provides a behind the scenes look which will likely entertain our Lit Film students and teachers; it received a starred review from Booklist.
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Insightful book. I had no idea movies went through so much before release. I can't call any other book that covers test audiences how they influence what movies  get reworked or shelved before the general public gets to see them. As an insider , Kevin Goetz writes about what goes on behind the scene. How the writers, producers, directors, actors, and others, experience test audiences reactions to their films. I never really gave to much thought about it, but with so much money (and egos) at stake, I can understand wanting to only produce films that are going to get rave reviews and draw in crowds. Thanks, Mr. Goetz. entertaining and informative read! Film buffs are going to love it!
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My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher Tiller Press for an advanced copy on this book about the business of making movies. 

Libraries of books have been written about cinema, biographies on actors, directors, movie heads, soundtracks, movie genres, and the business of film. Not as much has been written about the importance of test screening a movie, from big budget tent pole flicks, to art films and even streaming content.

 A test screening gives the creators, the backers and executives a chance to see their movie in the wild, with a crowd of strangers who want to be entertained, and not afraid of annoying their high priced director of the month, or their bosses by speaking the truth. This audience, selected by demographics and watched as they watch, recorded as they laugh or cry at the right and wrong moments, can make a movie, or save a movie. Or sometimes meddle in a movie. Entire films have been reedited, rewritten, scores tossed out, jokes added, characters reshot, or deleted, or knowing how the Weinsteins worked, entire movies shelved because of good or bad test screenings.

Kevin Goetz, a twenty year- plus veteran of helping movies studios polish their movies,  details the science, at least what he can tell due to nondisclosure agreements, in his book Audience- ology: How Moviegoers Shape the Films We Love. Mr. Goetz describes a typical screening, the way an audience is selected, how a focus group can help a director make his artistic vision clearer, or make an enfant terrible lose their cool.
Mr. Goetz interviews directors, producers, and others giving specific examples of film screenings from Moonstruck, Jaws and Cocktail, and broader unsourced examples from his long career that he can't or should not mention. The information is informative more that gossipy, and told plainly not in a I can't believe they thought that was a good idea kind of sense. Cinephiles might know all these stories, but a few were new to me. 
The sections I found most interesting was when Mr. Goetz would describe a scene, film ending or entire movie not working from just one wrong joke or sound cue. That a classic movie could have been forgotten just because of the choice of music is astonishing to me. Again, Mr. Goetz has quite a few examples of this in the book.

One of the better books on the film industry I have read in awhile. Deciding what people like is harder than it looks. Not just a book for interested in film or the film industry, but a very good book for anyone who is creative, be it writing, art or whatever they create. Sometimes advice isn't a bad thing, that a creator might be too close, and someone removed from the situation might have a helpful idea. Maybe instead of scoffing, a good listen might make the work better.
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Thank you to NetGalley for allowing me to read this book.  Opinions are my own.

What a fascinating book. Have you ever wondered why there are clips for movie previews that aren’t actually in the movie? Do you wonder about movie endings and what the movie would have been like with a different ending. This book helps answer some of those questions.

I knew there were early screenings of movies. I just didn’t o ow what all went in to having them done. This book explores the process. It also has me wondering about certain movies that made it to theaters.
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Intriguing Look At A Facet Of Hollywood Most Are Unaware Of. This is a memoir from someone committed to client confidentiality but who happens to be one of Hollywood's foremost experts in gauging how audiences will react to a given film - and someone who manages to find a creative solution to be able to tell his story without violating his principles. It *also* has wide ranging applications, applications that don't seem to be obvious to Mr. Goetz. Specifically, in describing how movie executives see anything less than "very good" (on what is essentially a 5 * rating system where "very good" is equivalent to 4*, with "excellent" being 5*) as "mediocre at best", Goetz may as well be talking to so many people reviewing books, no matter the platform. This is because book executives (and algorithms) tend to have the same general opinion on the matter, as do many fellow consumers of the medium. But even beyond the rather obvious applications to book reception, Goetz's explanations, pontifications, and examples show how utterly critical end-user/ consumer feedback is to making *any* product as strong as it can be. And yes, there are all kinds of Hollywood case stories sprinkled throughout, from the very beginnings of Hollywood through at least 2018, and yes, several of the bigger names throughout that period pop up. Including little films no one has ever heard of like Jaws, Star Wars, Forrest Gump, Titanic, The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity, and Charlie's Angels - among many, many others. Truly an outstanding book that project leaders of all stripes would do well to read professionally, and most everyone else would do well to read both for personal growth and entertainment. Very much recommended.
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Audience-ology: How Moviegoers Shape the Films We Love by Kevin Goetz was an even more entertaining book than I expected. I wanted to learn some of the details about how viewer research impacts the final product and fully expected some interesting anecdotes, it is the film industry after all. But the book was engaging from the beginning, the stories were both relevant and presented in an interesting manner.

Maybe I simply didn't expect someone who does research to write quite so well but Goetz really made me appreciate what he does as well as gain a better understanding of audience research. I have been part of a few such audiences, a benefit of living in the LA area for years and also other major metropolitan areas coupled with a love of film. Yet I was never sure, beyond just gauging general response, what was done with the information gathered.

I would recommend this to anyone with an interest of any kind in film. From a casual fan to someone considering a career in film (no matter in what capacity). I would have liked a better understanding of this back when I was studying film and film history in school, it would have added another dimension to my work. So I would highly recommend this to students of film.

Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.
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A revealing look into the misunderstood, and sometimes derided, world of audience testing.  Goetz does a great job of defending the practice and sticking up for the moviegoers in general who are often looked at as unintelligent or lacking in taste. The behind the scenes stories are great and although some names are left out, the lessons are still there. This is a great book for anyone who's interested in how films are marketed and released.
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