How often a film is referenced in other films is a better determiner of how important the work is than the combined efforts of reviewers, critics, awards, and box office sales. 

Researchers at Northwestern University have created a new automated process of identifying significant movies by noting how frequently they are referenced or alluded to in other works. 

They examined methods of measuring a film's worth, looking at standards both subjective (critical reviews, awards, public opinion) and objective (citations, box office sales).

"Directors keep coming back to movies that are significant," Amaral said. "If you show a little bit from 'Pscyho,' such as referencing the shower scene, you are putting that whole movie in front of the viewer of the new movie."

The number of times a movie is referenced by other movies helped researchers to include them in a canon of "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant," works such as "The Wizard of Oz," "Star Wars," "Psycho," "Casablanca" and "Gone With the Wind."

Researchers behind the film project want to use their methods to help determine which scientific papers are more significant than others.

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