Movie industry experts continuously debate whether the industry's enormous investments in stars pay off. Although a rich body of research has addressed the question of whether stars are critical to the success of movies, previous research does not provide a consistent picture of the impact of stars on the economic success of the respective product. To derive empirical generalizations, the authors (1) provide a meta-analysis of the relationship between star power and movie success based on 61 primary studies reporting 172 effects of star power on movie success and (2) analyze a comprehensive dataset from that industry with n = 1545 movies using two different types of star power measures (commercial and artistic success), while controlling for selection effects of stars. Based on these two studies, four empirical generalizations emerge. First, when ignoring selection effects of stars, the impact of star power on box office revenues is strongly upwards biased. Second, artistic star power is associated with significantly lower box office revenues than commercial star power. Third, on average, movies with a commercially successful star generate 12.46 million US$ additional box office revenues. In contrast, artistic star power does not result in a statistically significant revenue premium. Fourth, commercially (artistically) successful stars have a statistically significant “multiplier effect” of 1.127 (1.083) on other characteristics that influence a movie's box office revenues.
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