Founding Father of Hollywood Focus Groups

Friday, December 23, 2011


Joseph Farrell, the man that made test screenings and market research Hollywood's industry standard, died last week at age 76. Brooke talks to Los Angeles Times film writer Rebecca Keegan about Farrell's influence on the industry and how Hollywood uses test screening today.

Comments [2]

Drew from Cleveland

If you listen to the soundtrack album from the movie "Little Shop of Horrors" you'll hear a song called "Don't Feed The Plants" which isn't in the film because of focus groups. Although the original black and white movie and the popular stage play end with the alien Audrey II plant devouring the entire cast and threatening to take over the world, the film version was changed over to a happy ending with only a hint that the alien plants may not have been defeated. Because of the preview audiences, this cautionary tale about greed and fame lost some of its punch by allowing the hero to prevail.

Dec. 27 2011 11:02 AM
steve chivers from Los Anageles

Your story about movie focus groups was illuminating. Focus groups are a pseudo science at best, since the results are only as accurate as the questions that are asked and the questions are very often based on erroneous assumptions. Case in point, your use of "The Player" as an example. You cite it as reflecting the vision of its "auteur" Robert Altman and then talk in detail about what Altman communicated in a particular scene. But Robert Altman didn't write the scenes you describe. They sprang from the mind of Michael Tolkin, first in his novel, then in his screenplay. Altman was a fine director, but he doesn't deserve credit as the author, auteur, creator or baby-daddy of someone else's work.

Dec. 25 2011 08:11 PM

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