Shine sparkles on US debut, stardom ahead


Checking figures presented in newspaper articles is a good exercise for consolidating understanding of the algorithm for the arithmetic mean as well as gaining a healthy scepticism for information provided.

The point of this article is one that is sometimes made if you want to put the best light on your situation. If you cannot win some competition based on totals, maybe you can do better on some measure of average performance. This is the case for the Australian movie Shine when it opened in the United States. The total earnings for Shine (from the last paragraph) were $202,000, well short of the $A37.5 million for the top money earner, First Contact. But as is claimed in the third paragraph, Shine was only shown in 6 theatres. When the average earnings per theatre are calculated, in the fourth paragraph, Shine outshines the rest by a long way.

Several opportunities arise for students to carry out calculations using information in the article and their knowledge of the algorithm for the arithmetic mean.

How many theatres screened First Contact? Space Jam? Ransom? [Obviously the total earnings have been rounded off but it is possible to estimate the number of theatres showing each movie.] Check the average earings for Shine using the three relevant figures provided in the article. [Something is wrong here! Perhaps there were seven theatres?] Assuming that the average earnings are correct, what is the range of earnings to be expected weekly by January? [$14.43 million to $20.20 million]

Students might like to discuss what other factors might affect these predictions. [Bad critics' reviews, the appeal to a small, more sophisticated portion of the movie audiences, the weather!]


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