Innovation Blog

23.10.06

The New Yorker: Fact: "THE FORMULA
What if you built a machine to predict hit movies?
by MALCOLM GLADWELL
Issue of 2006-10-16
Posted 2006-10-09

One sunny afternoon not long ago, Dick Copaken sat in a booth at Daniel, one of those hushed, exclusive restaurants on Manhattan’s Upper East Side where the waiters glide spectrally from table to table. He was wearing a starched button-down shirt and a blue blazer. Every strand of his thinning hair was in place, and he spoke calmly and slowly, his large pink Charlie Brown head bobbing along evenly as he did. Copaken spent many years as a partner at the white-shoe Washington, D.C., firm Covington & Burling, and he has a lawyer’s gravitas. One of his best friends calls him, admiringly, “relentless.” He likes to tell stories. Yet he is not, strictly, a storyteller, because storytellers are people who know when to leave things out, and Copaken never leaves anything out: each detail is adduced, considered, and laid on the table—and then adjusted and readjusted so that the corners of the new fact are flush with the corners of the fact that preceded it. This is especially true when Copaken is talking about things that he really cares about, such as questions of international law or his grandchildren or, most of all, the movies.

Dick Copaken loves the movies. His friend Richard Lig"