Tableau - Box Office Stats

...my continuing adventures to learn stuff...

  Box office reports contain a plethora of interesting1 data: weekend gross, lifetime gross, theater count, percentage drops, and so much more. During lunch I downloaded some quick box office figures and connected it to Tableau2 to see what I could visualize. The first exercise was to compare the level of difficulty of creating a simple overlay chart to show total box office grosses vs total tickets sold. Figure 1 shows the results in Tableau and Figure 2 shows the results in Excel.

Figure 1: Box Office Gross vs. Ticket Sales by Year, viewed in Tableau. (click to enlarge)

Figure 2: Box Office Gross vs. Ticket Sales by Year, viewed in Excel. (click to enlarge)
  At first glance the two graphs appear nearly identical. However, there are some subtle differences which make me prefer the Tableau version.
  1. The actual Tableau dashboard has a much cleaner hover-box to view specific data points.
  2. The Tableau dashboard has a nice zoom feature to highlight and  magnify specific areas of interest.
  3. The y-axis on the Tableau chart is labeled by default and the default graph colors are blue and orange, not blue and red! (Color wheel, people!)
  4. The Excel version shows the entire date instead of just the year. This can be fixed by adding a 'Year' column (=YEAR(ColumnA)) but it is still an extra step I would rather not perform.
  Since I had all the data loaded, I tried one more view. Instead of an overlay chart with two measurements I wanted to compare three separate measurements: average price of a movie ticket, the total number of tickets sold, and total box office gross. Just for kicks I included a label with the highest grossing movie that year.3 After pivoting the data around and adjusting the axis, here is what I came up with.

Click to enlarge.
  There are a few conclusions which can be drawn from this visualization. The most obvious observation is that a steady rise in box office ticket prices does not necessarily result in higher box office grosses. Also very visible is that movie attendance peaked in 2002 followed by a somewhat roller coaster decline. Further analysis on the spreadsheet view shows that 2012 had the highest box office gross on record but was only the 12th highest year as far as the number of ticket sold. (I suspect IMAX and 3D surcharges are padding the numbers.) The most shocking factoid is that in 1994, The Flintstones earned $340 million worldwide. Wha?!?

1. Interesting to me
2. I am neither an employee nor investor in Tableau. I'm doing this to learn a new product.
3. No "Lord of the Rings was the top grossing movie of 2002!" comments. It was released in late 2002 and carried over to 2003. I'm not doing all the math.


Robin Kennedy said...

Nice work. I hope you enjoy using and learning Tableau. It's such a great tool.

Check out all the tutorial videos on their website and visit the support forums for help if you get stuck!

Allen said...

This post is what would happen if my movie nerd and your numbers nerd had a baby and it blogged.