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NOT ALL RIVALS LOOK ALIKE: ESTIMATING AN EQUILIBRIUM MODEL OF THE RELEASE DATE TIMING GAME

Authors

  • LIRAN EINAV

    1. Einav: Associate Professor of Economics, Stanford University, 579 Serra Mall, Stanford, CA 94305-6072; and Research Associate, National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138. Phone 650-723-3704. Fax 650-725-5702, E-mail leinav@stanford.edu.
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      This paper partially originates from chapter 1 of my 2002 Harvard University dissertation, and I am particularly grateful to Ariel Pakes for his guidance and support in the early stages of this paper. I thank three anonymous referees for many useful suggestions, and Susan Athey, Pat Bajari, Lanier Benkard, Tim Bresnahan, Peter Davis, Mike Mazzeo, Aviv Nevo, Peter Reiss, Katja Seim, and seminar participants at the Society of Economic Dynamics 2003 annual meeting in Paris, the Econometric Society 2004 Winter meeting in San Diego, UW Madison, and the University of Tokyo for useful comments on earlier drafts. I thank Oren Rigbi for superb research assistance, Jeff Blake (Sony Pictures), Ron Kastner (Goldheart Pictures), and Terry Moriarty (Hoytz Cinemas) for insightful conversations, and ACNielsen EDI and Exhibitor Relations Inc. for helping me obtain important portions of the data. I acknowledge financial support from the National Science Foundation and the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.


Abstract

I develop a new empirical model for discrete games and apply it to study the release date timing game played by distributors of movies. The results suggest that release dates of movies are too clustered around big holiday weekends and that box office revenues would increase if distributors shifted some holiday releases by one or two weeks. The proposed game structure could be applied more broadly to situations where competition is on dimensions other than price. It relies on sequential moves with asymmetric information, making the model particularly attractive for studying (common) situations where player asymmetries are important. (JEL C13, C51, L13, L15, L82)

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