The Desolation of Statistics: Book Length vs. Movie Length, Part 2

More overthinking about those bloody idiot directors and their self-indulgence.

Or not:

gone-with-the-wind-Captureby Mark Lee

In last week’s article, I started with a simple question: how do book lengths, as measures by word count, compare to their adapted movie run times, as measured by seconds? I was mostly looking for a statistical basis to express my displeasure at The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (and by extension, parts 2 and 3 of this unnecessary trilogy), but I wound up comparing the density of the Hobbit movies, as measured in Words in Book per Second of Movie (WIBPSOM), to other prominent movie adaptations of books: The Lord of the Rings, The Hunger Games, and the Twilight franchises.

The findings were interesting in and of themselves (TL;DR: The Hobbit Books have way smaller WIBPSOM values than the other franchises), but they begged for a larger scale analysis, both in size of dataset and scope of inquiry. To address the size of the dataset, I found all of the (English language) entries on this list of best-selling books that have theatrically-released, non-silent movie adaptations. After including multiple movie adaptations of the same movie and excluding movies where I couldn’t find any data on book length as measured by word count, I came up with a dataset of 59 movie adaptations of best selling books.

As for scope of inquiry, well, let’s get down to brass tacks: is there any relationship between the density of a book’s movie adaptation, as measured by WIBPSOM, and the quality of the movie, as measured by its IMDB rating?

In a word, the answer to this intriguing question is an emphatic “no.”


Yes, we did have Part I on this site. Still do. HERE.