The lead-lag puzzle of demand and distribution: A graphical method applied to movies

Robert E. Kride, Tieshan Li, Yong Liu, Charles B. Weinberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Understanding the lead-lag relationship between distribution and demand is an important and challenging issue for all marketers. It is particularly challenging in the movie industry, where the very short lifespan and decaying revenue and exhibition patterns of motion pictures means that the associated time series are short and nonstationary, rendering existing econometric methods unreliable. We propose an alternate method that uses state-space diagrams to determine lead-lag relationships. Straightforward to apply and interpret, it takes advantage of the eye's ability to see patterns that algebra-based formulations cannot easily recognize. A number of validation tests are provided to illustrate the usefulness and limitations of the method. We study the weekly data for 231 major movies released in 2000-2001. While econometric methods do not provide consistent results, the graphical method of visually inferred causality clearly shows a pattern that demand leads distribution for most movies. In other words, the dominant industry pattern is one of movie exhibitors monitoring box office sales and then responding with screen allocation decisions. The managerial implications of these findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)635-645
Number of pages11
JournalMarketing Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 2005


  • Distribution
  • Marketing tools
  • Movies
  • State-space diagrams
  • Time series

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Marketing


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