Skip to content

1. Make a Data-Based Decision

Playback speed:

So far in this unit, you reviewed movie ideas and made guesses about which movies would be most profitable based on your own experiences and preferences.

Then, you analyzed lots of data about actual movies, including how well individual genres, actors, and directors perform, or their returns on investment.

Of course, data like this can help you make a decision, but data alone can’t make the decision for you.

There is no perfect algorithm to decide which movie would be profitable.

Data is important -- but how important is it?

The data may indicate that you should definitely choose a horror movie because horror movies have a great return on investment.

But what if you don’t like horror movies?

What if every producer decided to only make horror movies? Would they still be profitable?

Data analysis is not just for movie producers.

Fashion designers, chefs, musicians, and publishers all use data analysis to try to predict the next big trend.

They also use data to design products to make them attractive to people in their target market.

Still, it takes a lot of trial and error to come up with a product that “tips” the market.

In this activity, you will evaluate the strength of the hypotheses you made about the movie ideas.

You will look at the average returns on investment for the genre, director, and cast members of the movie proposals you selected.

To do this, you will use more spreadsheet formulas to identify only the data you need.

Then, your group will use this data to select the one movie you want to greenlight.

There are lots of ways that you could evaluate these patterns.

You could create a brainstorming document or table to collect pros and cons about each element.

Or, you could build a presentation to show the strengths and weaknesses of each movie.

But you are working with lots of information in the spreadsheet.

It would take a long time to look up every genre, actor, and director in all of the potential films.

Fortunately, a spreadsheet can help you organize all this information by finding, sorting, and displaying the specific information you want to present.

This is called “populating” the spreadsheet.

In this activity, each group member will copy and paste information about one movie into a new sheet.

Then, you will automatically fill in the spreadsheet with specific information using a Vertical Lookup formula to fill in information from the movie data spreadsheet.

Then, your group will compare your initial thoughts with data points for all the movies and make a decision about which one movie to greenlight.

To make your selection, you will combine data with intuition.

For this activity, open your movie ideas document and look at the list of successful movies your group made.

Each group member will choose one of the successful movies from the list.

Then, open the movie data spreadsheet if it isn’t open already.

Remember: Data can help strengthen your hypotheses about which movie to greenlight, but it is only one piece of the puzzle.

Choosing the next big box office hit is not an entirely data-driven decision.

You can use data to inform your decision-making, but data will not guarantee success!

Now, it’s your turn: Open your group’s movie ideas document.

Have each group member choose a movie to be responsible for.

Open the movie data spreadsheet.

Then, move on to the next video where you will each add a movie to the movie data spreadsheet.


  1. Open your group's movie ideas document.
  2. Choose a movie you're responsible for.
  3. Open the movie data spreadsheet.
  4. Move on to the next video.