I share reader Bernard L.'s enthusiasm for this very imaginative chart, courtesy of the graphics people at NYT. The chart captures the ebb and flow of weekly movie receipts over the last two decades.
The details that particularly interest me include:
- The addition of area colors (on top of lines) serves to highlight box office successes; this really helps readers sort out the massive amount of data
- Nicely spaced text (and dots) does not interfere with our reading of the chart
- The hiding of text for less important films, plus taking advantage of interactivity to show their titles if the reader mouses over the respective areas
All of the above indicate a keen sense of foreground versus background. Besides, the authors had the good sense to speak of inflation-adjusted box office sales; I'm tired of the movie industry proclaiming higher sales each year when ticket prices are rising, and the population is growing.
This is another chart where more data do not easily translate into better communication (see my guest post at Flowing Data). While I like the playful nature of the interactive chart, it is left to the reader to discover the information buried in the data, such as the assertion in the header that Oscar-winning films typically take time to attain box-office success while many blockbusters do not Oscars make.
In this presentation, it is challenging to compare the total receipts of one film versus another (this requiring comparing oddly shaped, partially obscured areas). It is also hard to compare across years since the data is spread out over a lot of space.
There may really be two types of graphics: the one like the example here which is a dictionary and designed for exploration; and the other kind where the designer has selected a subset of the data to make a specific point.
Reference: "The ebb and flow of movies", New York Times, Feb 23 2008.