The movie classic Gone With The Wind turned 80 this year.
Despite being a dinosaur, in terms of the life of the movie industry, the film remains as powerful and entertaining today as it did all those years ago.
Gone With The Wind was a notoriously turbulent production.
Producer David O. Selznick fired numerous production crew, including the original director George Cukor. Leading role Scarlett was only cast after filming had already begun and much of the cast and crew grew to hate one another.
Despite this, and though carrying many goofs, the film became a worldwide sensation that rightly deserves pride of place as one of the best and most influential movies ever made.
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The Modern Era
Filmmaking has come a long way since the 1930s. These days, filmmakers have a powerful array of tools and techniques at their fingertips that literally help them to transform their movies.
In recent years, some of these techniques have caused a large amount of controversy both within and outside the industry.
One example is the growing use of CGI in post-production to alter the performance of actors. Actors and actresses have expressed outrage when after attending a premiere, have discovered that their expressions have been altered, and even tears have been added to ‘sex up’ scenes.
Another new technology that is dividing many in the industry is data-driven moviemaking.
What is data-driven moviemaking?
Data-driven moviemaking is an emerging field that allows filmmakers and production companies to use big data to improve/alter and market their movies.
As we increasingly use smart devices and websites to access and talk about our movies, we are generating enormous amounts of data.
This data can come in all shapes and sizes. The enormity of this data and the potential data sources might seem overwhelming but it is, in fact, a gold mine.
Through the development of sophisticated data analytic algorithms, companies are actually able to pool this data and identify patterns or trends.
These patterns or trends represent our behavior, including our likes and dislikes.
By identifying such patterns, companies are able to ever increasingly understand what movie we like to see and what is so appealing about them.
Data-driven moviemaking has the power to literally change any aspect of a movie’s production. Everything from the script to the cast can now be altered during production to ensure that an audience performs better with its target audience.
Marketing is another area where things will benefit. Efficient direct marketing is made possible using big data.
By understanding who the target audience for a particular film is, and what kinds of websites, movies they spend their time on, companies can now undertake targeted ad campaigns to get their message across to only the people who are likely to want to watch their films.
Gone With The Wind In 2019
So back to our title question. Would Gone With The Wind Have Been Made With Big Data Analytics?
Well, the likely answer is probably not. Though, if it was, it would be quite a different film.
Producer And Cast
To start with, big data analytics would have prevented most of the tantrums made by David O. Selznick. In fact, the recommendations and their subsequent success with audiences probably would have ended his career, or at least, reduced him to a quiet background producer.
The arguments over the cast would also have been quickly put to sleep. A list of recommended ‘best’ actors could have been drawn up as soon as the first draft of the script was complete. There is absolutely no way that shooting would have begun without a female lead.
While it is possible that mainstream audiences would go to see an old south period epic in 2019, there would have to be a number of changes to the script.
Firstly, the machismo of lead character Rhett Butler, played by Clark Gable, would certainly need to be toned down.
In the modern era, the kind of macho, girl grabbing male is simply no longer appealing. In order for audiences to identify with his heartbreak over Scarlet never loving him, his character would need to be changed.
Other plot devices such as the bubbly but rather one-dimensional African American servant Mammy would also need to be altered. Audiences no longer wish to see people represented in such terms, especially given the plight of African Americans.
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With significant alterations, it is likely that Gone With The Wind could be made in 2019. One aspect that would almost certainly suffer is its budget, however.
Given the modern trends/viewing habits of audiences, it is unlikely that the same numbers of people would flock to see this kind of film as a superhero film. In fact, the two would be in direct competition, something that would reduce the films audiences even more.
The film cost a record $3.85 million to make at the time, which is about $66 million in today’s money. Though budgets have grown significantly in the last few decades, Gone With The Wind would have to stick to a budget of roughly the same amount.
This might seem easy, but don’t forget that quite a large proportion of this sum goes towards expensive actors, location permits, and of course, marketing.
Marketing movies is a massive and very expensive business. The Dark Knight Rises, the last installment in the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy, had a whopping marketing budget of $250 million. This is more than the entire production budget of 99% of the movies made worldwide every year.
A movie like Gone With The Wind is unlikely to receive anywhere near this kind of budget. This ultimately means that it would likely be relegated to the kind of ‘arty’ Hollywood movie that would be nominated for an Oscar, rather than being one of the year’s big blockbuster releases.