Get Your Freakonomics On… at the Theater

by Matt Forcey

The bestselling book by University of Chicago economist, Steven Levitt, and New York Times journalist Stephen Dubner, Freakonomics, is now a movie by the same name.  In a move as unconventional as the material it covers, Magnolia Pictures has chosen to release the movie directly to iTunes on September 3rd, and then to theaters a month later.

The book, published in 2005, is a collection of articles that apply economic theory to diverse subjects not traditionally covered by economists.  Levitt and Dubner argue that that economics is, at root, the study of incentives and apply this theory to everything from parenting, to the Ku Klux Klan, to the impact legalized abortion has had on crime. 

The Freakonomics, the Movie will consist of four-documentaries-in-one, each with a different director (including documentary nobility like Morgan Spurlock and Academy Award winner Alex Gibney ) focusing on studies from the book including whether names given at birth are a major factor of success in life, and cheating sumo wrestlers.

What impact do you think releasing their movie online first will have on the eventual success of the theatrical release?  Is it genius marketing or a waste of time and resources?  I suspect that Levitt will share the outcome with us as data in a third edition of the series, perhaps titled Super-Duper Freakonomics.

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