Film Data Blog

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

Gender diversity among film professionals working in sales and distribution

Between filmmakers and film audiences lie a complex network of middlemen, distributors and sub-distributors.  They play a vital role in the film value chain, ensuring that films are available all over the world in all manner of formats to all types of audiences.

This side of the industry is less visible than most other aspects, for a number of reasons.  Firstly, they don’t interact directly with the public the way cinemas do.  Secondly, their work is not visually interesting.  Film fans enjoy behind-the-scenes footage from movie shoots but I doubt behind the scenes of a negotiating re-licensing deal would have the same appeal.  Finally, it’s a fairly small sector with a relatively low number of people working in it (certainly compared to …

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How important is the opening week to a movie’s total box office?

I was contacted by a reader who asked about the importance of the opening weekend as a percentage of the total amount a movie will gross.  Specifically, they asked about Blank Panther, a movie which has stayed in cinemas for longer than most and for which the high point of press attention seemed to come a few weeks after its initial release.  “Does this mean that it made more money in weeks three and four than week one?” they asked.

The significance of the opening week’s gross is a great topic to study, so I took a look.  I built a database of all movies released domestically (i.e. in American and Canadian cinemas) in the twenty years between 1998 and 2017, inclusive.  I …

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The scale of BFI development and production funding

In a recent conversation with some filmmakers, I was asked about the amount of money the British Film Institute (BFI) awards to British films for development and production activities.

I thought it was a great topic for an article, so I agreed to take a look.

The BFI is a public body which, among other things, awards money raised from the National Lottery to people, projects and productions which will help the British film industry.  In the past, the BFI was primarily a cultural and heritage organisation but in 2011 its remit grew when it was given Lottery funding responsibilities from the newly-shut UK Film Council (UKFC).

How significant is the BFI’s financial support to UK films?

It’s hard to understate just how much …

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Major new study into gender inequality among UK film and TV writers

Almost exactly two years ago, Alexis Kreager and I published a big report into the gender inequality faced by film directors working in the UK film industry.

Soon after it was published, we were approached by the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain (WGGB) about studying the plight of screenwriters, both in the film and television industries.  This led to the WGGB (along with the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society – ALCS) supporting us in carrying out a deep data dive into the experiences of UK writers.

The full 177-page report can be downloaded here, and I have written a brief summary in the article below.

Download the full report

You can read more about the Writers’ Guild and ALCS’ campaign connected to the report at writersguild.org.uk/equalitywrites

The report covers both …

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What do Cannes-nominated short films have in common?

In just under a week’s time, the 2018 Cannes Film Festival will come to a close and the winners of the top prizes will be announced.  I’ve looked at the feature films nominated for the Palme d’Or, the festival’s top award, in previous articles (here, here, here, here and here).

So today I am going to turn to the main competition’s little sister – the Short Film Palme d’Or (or Palme d’Or du Court Métrage, to give it its French name).

I looked at all films nominated for the Short Film Palme d’Or between the first Cannes film festival in 1946 and this year (2018).

How many short films are nominated for the Palme d’Or?

Including this year’s nominees, 1,211 short films have been in the running …

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How long does the average Hollywood movie take to make?

Today’s topic is one I’ve had on my ‘to do’ list for a while and it took the help of four students to gather all the data.  We looked at the key dates behind Hollywood studio movies in order to work out roughly how long the average Hollywood movie takes to make.

We built a database of 782 live-action studio-produced feature films, all of which were released domestically between 2006 and 2016, inclusive.  We then scoured trades and traditional press outlets to find the earliest date for the following key milestones:

  • Announcement – The date when it’s publicly announced that the film will be made.  Often this is when the industry announces that the script has been optioned, but could also be when the mainstream press …
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The prevalence of sequels, remakes and original movies

Over the weekend, I saw Avengers: Infinity War.  I shall avoid talking about the actual movie so you don’t have to worry about spoilers here.  What I do want to discuss is originality amongst top movies.  Before the Avengers began saving the world, we were treated to trailers for nothing but sequels, prequels and other movies based on existing material.

While hardly a scientific way of judging all of Hollywood’s output, it did underline the issue for me. 2018 is going to be a bumper year for such movies, with cinemas showing:

  • Sequels such as Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, Sherlock Gnomes, Johnny English Strikes Again, X-Men: Dark Phoenix, Pacific Rim: Uprising, Fifty Shades Freed, Maze Runner: The Death Cure, Deadpool 2, The Equalizer 2, Super …
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How does the use of the terms ‘cinematographer’ and ‘director of photography’ differ?

When I was starting out in film, I always heard the head of the camera department being referred to as either “DoP” (pronounced dee-oh-pea) or “DP” (pronounced dee-pea), both of which are short for director of photography.  As I met more filmmakers, I learned that the same role is often called the cinematographer (pronounced… well, the way it’s written).

Today, I thought I’d take a look at these two job titles and try to make sense of where each is used.

What is a cinematographer / director of photography?

In most real-world situations, the two job titles are interchangeable. Simply put, this person is responsible for crafting the film’s visual style, or ‘look’.  They report directly to the director and have a large number of people answering to them.  …

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Patterns among the most profitable movies budgeted $3m to $10m

Today’s article is another joint project with Bruce Nash from The Numbers.  In a series of research studies for the American Film Market, we looked at what it takes for films to break out at different ends of the indie budget spectrum. We’ve looked at the most profitable low-budget films (with budgets under $3 million), those costing $10 million and $20 million, and also movies made for between $20 million to $50 million.

Now we will fill in the gap by looking at the most profitable movies budgeted between $3 million and $10 million.

As before, we reviewed all the films in Nash Information Services’ database in that budget range released between 2000 and 2016. We then identified the sixty most profitable movies, after accounting for …

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How many non-English language films get a US theatrical release?

This week is part two of an investigation into the languages found in modern movies. These articles came from a reader’s question.  Tui asked “I was wondering how many Non-U.S. English-language narrative drama features get Theatrical North American distribution“.  In the end, the data took me on quite a journey, so I split what I found into two articles:

  • Last week – What languages are most commonly used in movies?
  • This week – How many non-English films get a US theatrical release?
  • What is a Non-English language film?

    This might sound like an obvious point, but before we can study ‘non-English language movies’, we need to be clear what we mean by that term. Many movies feature other languages whilst still having English as their primary language. For …

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