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Today’s article is an offshoot of two strands of research I’ve been working on over the past few years – gender in the film industry and UK public film funding.  I looked at the percentage of female writers, producers and directors within UK films, focusing on how the female representation changes between films supported by a public body and those that are not.

In summary…

  • 20% of UK films shot 2009-13 received some form of public funding
  • Across all UK films 2009-13, women accounted for 14% of directors, 27% of producers and 15% of writers
  • On publicly-backed films, women account for 20% of directors, 32% of producers and 24% of writers
  • The BFI fund a disproportionately large number of dramas, biopics and period dramas
  • The BFI fund a disproportionately small number of horror, documentary and fantasy films
  • 45% of period dramas made in the UK received some kind of UK-based public funding

Who are the public funding bodies?

One in every five features films shot in the UK receives some sort of public funding, underlying the significance of public funders in the UK industry.  In 2013, public funding bodies spent £157 million on UK film – through funding, training and support.  (This is in addition to the £206 million tax breaks given to UK films by the HMRC).

The major funders are the British Film Institute (BFI), the BBC and regional screen agencies that look after geographic areas of the UK.  In all, I tracked 37 public funding bodies (details here).  I used IMDb users and Metascore as proxies for quality as judged by film audiences and film critics, respectively.  I was able to show that the vast majority of publicly backed films received better scores than the UK average.Continue reading

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There a number of clear signs you’re getting older; Policemen look younger, music gets louder and more unintelligible and you start complaining more often about “How could they possibly remake that movie?”

Personally, I think part of the outcry against any upcoming Hollywood remake is in fact misplaced anxiety about the passage of time and the ever-closer creeping inevitability of death, but I guess that’s a debate for a different blog. While you’re still around to complain, would you like to see the stats of remakes?  ‘Course you would…

  • The percentage of sequels in Hollywood has been falling over the past decade
  • In 2005, 17% of top grossing films were remakes but by 2014 it was just 5%
  • The fourth horror film ever made was a remake of the first horror film
  • 29% of top grossing Hollywood horror movies are remakes, 2005-14
  • Very few Hollywood dramas or romantic comedies are remakes (2.7% and 3.4% respectively during 2005-14)
  • The Scorpion King is a 2002 spinoff of the 2001 prequel to the 1999 remake of a 1932 film.

The case for remakes

Hollywood is constantly on the search for “new ideas” and where better to find those “new ideas” than in movies they’ve previously made – everything was new once, right?  So if you’re a cigar-chomping Hollywood exec and you want to breathe new life into an old franchise with the hope of creating a new generation of paying fans then you have a few options… 

  • Direct sequel – Carry on as if the old film series never stopped, such as Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull and Terminator 3: Rise of The Machines.
  • “Years Later” sequel – Recognize that time has passed and hand over the baton to a new generation of characters, such as Tron: Legacy and Herbie Fully Loaded.
  • Remake – Just tell the same story as the previous film, maybe updating Walkmans for iPods, such as You’ve Got Mail and Ocean’s Eleven.
  • Reboot – Throw out all the existing continuity and re-imagine the characters and world, such as Batman Begins and Casino Royale.
  • Remake in name only – Take a successful film and copy some of the surface elements while re-writing the characters and world, such as The Italian Job 

The idea of remaking a successful movie is about as old as film itself.  The fourth horror film ever made, The Haunted Castle, was an English language remake of the first horror film, Le Manoir du Diable, which was a French film made a year earlier in 1886.

There are a number of films you may not realise are remakes or reboots, including…

Note: Today I’m only measuring official remakes, not films which were clearly borrowed from one another, such as the retelling of Point Break under the title The Fast and The Furious (see here for a comparison).

Remakes becoming less common in Hollywood

The percentage of top grossing films which are remakes or reboots is falling. In 2005, 17 films were remakes (including four in the top ten) whereas by 2014 that number had fallen to just five of the top 100 grossing films.

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Last week’s article on how original Hollywood movies are had such a great response that I’ve rushed out a sequel featuring many of the same characters.  Not only that, but I’ve twigged that I can split the follow-up into two parts to maximise my audience.  (I may have been studying Hollywood for too long…)

This week I am looking at sequels and next week I will be addressing remakes and reboots.  I looked at the 100 highest US grossing films of each of the past 10 years, focusing on sequels and prequels.  In summary…

  • In the past 10 years, the number of top grossing films which were sequels has more than doubled
  • In both 2013 and 2014, seven of the top 10 grossing films were either sequels or prequels.
  • Almost half of all the money spent on Adventure and Action films in the past decade has gone to sequels or prequels.
  • Only one romantic comedy sequel has appeared in the top grossing films 2005-14 (Think Like a Man Too)
  • Of the top 50 highest grossing films of all time, 33 films reference events which took place in another film on the same list
  • The Paranormal Activity series has an unofficial sequel called Paranormal Activity 2: Tokyo Night, which was made by a Japanese distributor
  • Terminator 2 was budgeted at 1,207% of the original Terminator film.

Is Hollywood making an increasing number of sequels?

Yes.  In the past 10 years, the number of films in the top 100 grossing films (US B.O.) which were sequels has more than doubled, from 9% in 2005 to 22% in 2014.  

In both 2013 and 2014, seven of the top 10 grossing films were either sequels or prequels.

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