Recent articles on the Film Data Blog

Each week I look at a different film industry topic, focusing on the data and statistics to reveal what's really going on.

How common are actor-directors?

Last week, I was chatting with NYU professor Paul Thompson and he asked me about the predominance of actor-directors.

In the past, I have looked at the writer-director hybrid, as well as other facets of directing (including age, gender, career path and hardest working), but never the actor-director. It’s certainly a relevant topic, as actor Bradley Cooper’s directing debut, A Star Is Born, is receiving rave reviews and an impressive box office haul.

To get a sense of how many actors are directing (and vice versa) I looked at all movies released in US cinemas between 1988 and 2017 (11,841 movies) and zeroed in on the directors who’ve also received acting credits.

How many directors have also received an acting credit?

This topic is slightly more complicated than it at …

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What the data says about producing low-budget horror films

This is the fourth of four articles I co-authored with Bruce Nash on behalf of the American Film Market.

We have previously looked at drama, comedy and family films and today we turn to horror.

Specifically, horror movies budgeted between $500,000 and $5 million which were released domestically (i.e. in the US and Canada) between 2000 and 2016.

We have boiled down all our data, statistics and modelling to a number of quick takeaways on the horror genre. They are:

  • Horror movies are the most profitable genre
  • …but also the riskiest genre
  • Quality doesn’t matter all that much
  • Your release will either be very wide or very small
  • Horror audiences are more likely to be working class
  • Let’s dive in and look at each of these findings in detail…

    1. …
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    Is Jason Blum right that there is a shortage of female horror directors?

    Last week, horror super-producer Jason Blum got himself in hot water after a comment he made during an interview with Polygon.

    Blum said “There are not a lot of female directors period and even less who are inclined to do horror”.

    When I first read this, I was horrified!  How could he say such a thing?  Doesn’t he know that the right thing to say was “fewer who are inclined to do horror”, not “less”?!

    Ok, grammar pedantry aside, the quote made him the target of a number of negative comments and articles.  I’m not seeking to add commentary to the debate, nor to support or chastise Blum for this.  Rather, I wanted to take a look at the data behind his assertion and use it to discuss female directors …

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    Are rom-coms shorter (and worse) than serious romance films?

    Today’s topic was suggested by my wife (hello, honey!). For the longer story as to how this topic came up, see the epilogue at the end of the article.

    For now, I’ll focus on what she suggested I research: Are romantic comedies shorter (and do they receive poorer reviews) than non-comedic romance movies?

    I built a dataset of all movies which grossed at least $1 in US cinemas between 1980 and 2017 (13,159 movies) to try to discover the answer.

    How romance compares to other genres

    Let’s start by having a look at how the romance genre compares to other genres.  For each movie I gathered three pieces of information (where available):

    • Length, measured in minutes, from IMDb.
    • Metascore, which is the average score of all major critics, out of 100.
    • IMDb user …
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