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 “popular” are Oscar-nominated movies?

A few weeks ago, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) announced three changes coming to the Oscars from 2020:

  • Sooner – The ceremony will be held earlier than in previous years, moving from towards the end of February to towards the start.
  • Shorter – The telecast will be shorter, with ‘lesser’ awards announced during advertising breaks.
  • Studio-friendlier – The introduction of a new category “designed around achievement in popular film“.

The response from the industry was swift and largely negative. I’m not going to comment on the efficacy of the changes, but I am interested in looking at how ‘popular films’ have fared in Oscars past.

Presumably, part of the reason for the new category is that the Academy feels that many of the movies most enjoyed by film …

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What percentage of movies are available to stream, rent or buy online?

Screenwriter and writing community hero John August posed a question on Twitter a couple of days ago.  He was surprised to find that some major movies are not available to stream or buy in the US, despite their clear value and audience interest.

He asked people to add any other movies they find which fit his criteria (i.e. top 100 mainstream, English-language movies) and which are not currently available to stream, rent or buy digitally in the US.

This sounded like a fun challenge, so I took it on.  I expanded the criteria slightly to look at the 200 top grossing movies of the past two decades, 4,000 movies in total.

I’m also going to subdivide the ‘top films’ of each year into three cohorts:

  • Highest Grossing, measured via the US box …
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Are movies with positive messages better than those without?

When I’m thinking about what movies I enjoy, I rarely consider whether they have a positive message or contain positive role models.  But on a subconscious level, I’m sure these factors play a part in how much satisfaction I get from the flick.  For example, I enjoyed The Wolf of Wall Street but felt it was held back by the fact that its characters learnt nothing and were triumphant in their duplicity, selfishness and douchebaggery.

To investigate this topic, I used data from an American nonprofit pressure group called Common Sense Media. They describe themselves as “the largest, most trusted library of independent age-based and educational ratings and reviews for movies, games, apps, TV shows, websites, books, and music“.  Their reviewers watch each movie, provide …

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How do movie genre tastes change with age?

Today’s article is a response to a comment posted on an article I wrote last year entitled What films are older cinemagoers watching?  Jonathan asked which movies audiences aged 18-24 years old, 25-34 years old and 35-44 years old watch.

By combing UK box office receipts and cinema exit polls, we can get a sense of how movie tastes differ by age. There are some notes at the bottom of this article which are worth reading if you want to know more about the data.

Let’s start with the big picture…

Who goes to the cinema?

The original article focused on what movies the oldest segment of the UK cinema-going audience chooses to watch.  For slightly myopic reasons, the film industry’s demographic banding has historically labelled everybody older than …

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