Moviegoing Pioneer, 83, Shaped Polling: A Cinematic Legacy

  • Mintz revolutionized audience polling in the film industry
  • CinemaScore’s grading system became a trusted barometer for movie success
  • Mintz’s sons will continue to operate CinemaScore
  • Mintz’s inspiration for CinemaScore came from a disappointing movie experience
  • CinemaScore’s algorithm remains an iconic tool in Hollywood


The film industry mourns the loss of Ed Mintz, the visionary founder of CinemaScore, who passed away at the age of 83 on February 6. Mintz’s groundbreaking audience polling service revolutionized the way studios and exhibitors gauge a film’s success, making him an influential figure in the motion picture industry. His mathematical “Coca-Cola” algorithm, developed in the early 1980s, provided a reliable grading system that became a trusted barometer for a movie’s opening-night audience response.

Mintz’s Legacy

CinemaScore, which continues to operate under the leadership of Mintz’s sons, Harold and Ricky Mintz, has been an invaluable tool for studios and exhibitors for decades. Mintz’s inspiration for the service came after a disappointing movie experience in 1978. Dissatisfied with the opinions of one or two critics, he realized the importance of hearing from a larger audience to determine a film’s worth. This led to the creation of CinemaScore, which allowed moviegoers to provide their opinions through audience polling ballots.

The “Super Sauce” Algorithm

Mintz’s genius extended beyond the creation of CinemaScore. He also developed and refined the “super sauce” algorithm, which remains a vital component of the service. This algorithm synthesizes data from audience responses and provides a singular score that helps chart the course for a movie’s marketing campaign. In an era of conflicting information on social media, Mintz’s algorithm provided a clear and reliable measure of a film’s overall success.

Industry Recognition and Impact

Mintz’s dedication to his work and the impact of CinemaScore earned him recognition from industry insiders. Distribution executives often stayed up late on a movie’s opening night, debating or embracing its CinemaScore grade. Former Sony Global Distribution Chief Jeff Blake recalls how contacting Mintz for the CinemaScore on an opening night provided a sense of invulnerability or hope, depending on the movie’s grosses. Mintz’s pioneering efforts were also acknowledged by Dwayne Johnson, who referred to him as an “icon.”

Mintz’s Background and Contributions

Born on December 24, 1940, Mintz excelled in mathematics from a young age. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin, majoring in math, and later founded Dentametics, a company that introduced computerized billing for the dental industry. As a computer programmer, Mintz wrote his own software to create reports showcasing CinemaScore’s results. His expertise extended beyond the film industry, with CinemaScore surveys being utilized by companies in the product-placement industry and conducting research for Anheuser Busch for nearly 25 years.

A Fond Farewell

Ed Mintz’s passing leaves a significant void in the film industry. His pioneering efforts and dedication to CinemaScore have left an indelible mark on the way movies are evaluated and marketed. Warner Bros. Domestic Distribution Chief Jeff Goldstein aptly describes Mintz as an “essential global rating benchmark” for the entertainment industry. As the film industry continues to evolve, Mintz’s legacy will remain an integral part of its history.


Ed Mintz, the founder of CinemaScore, leaves behind a powerful legacy in the film industry. His mathematical genius, coupled with his desire to provide a more accurate representation of audience opinions, revolutionized the way movies are evaluated. CinemaScore’s grading system became a trusted tool for studios, exhibitors, and audiences alike. Mintz’s impact will continue to be felt as his sons carry on his work, ensuring the continued success of CinemaScore.

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