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.

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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    Which languages are most commonly used in movies?

    Tui got in touch to ask “I was wondering how many Non-U.S. English-language narrative drama features get Theatrical North American distribution“.

    It’s a great question and so I set about answering it. In the end, the data took me on quite a journey, so I’m splitting what I found into two articles:

  • This week – What languages are most commonly used in movies?
  • Next week – How many non-English language films get a US theatrical release?
  • This research looks at all movies released in North American cinemas for the fifteen years between 2003 and 2017 (inclusive), including re-releases and re-issues of older movies.

    How many languages are in modern movies?

    Films can have more than one language, and indeed, 31% of the films in my study did.  The …

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    Who are the most prolific people working in Hollywood?

    Last week, I looked at how the composition of crews on Hollywood movies has changed over the years.  This piece led a few people to ask questions on related topics, one of which I will address today.  John asked:”From your datasets can you see which people have worked the most often?”

    To answer the question, I looked at all credits received on the 200 highest-grossing movies at the US box office between 1997 and 2016 (i.e. 4,000 movies).  I then created league tables of the most frequently-credited people in a number of major roles.  Today’s research is only looking at movies, so work on other media is not being counted (i.e. TV shows).

    Most prolific directors in Hollywood

    Let’s start with the highest profile creative role …

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    How has the average Hollywood movie crew changed?

    In the past, I’ve looked at how big a movie crew can get, for both UK films and Hollywood movies. But I was recently asked by a reader how the composition of such crews has changed over time. Which departments are getting larger? Which jobs are on the rise and which are waning?

    To answer this, I looked at the credits of the top 200 US-grossing movies of each of the past 20 years (1997-2016), giving me a dataset of 4,000 movies.

    The big picture

    In the past two decades, the number of crew members on a top-grossing movie has grown by 77%, from 350 in 1997 to 620 in 2016. If we group those crew credits into stages of production, we …

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    What do Oscar-winning short films have in common?

    A week ago, British filmmakers Chris Overton and Rachel Shenton achieved the dream of so many short filmmakers – their names were read out at the Oscars and they scooped the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film for  The Silent Child.

    So I thought it was a good moment to take a look back and what types of short films have been nominated and victorious at the Academy Awards.

    A short history of short films at the Oscars

    The Oscars are the annual awards given out by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.  The Academy Awards began in 1929 and by 1934 they were already being called ‘the Oscars’.  The moniker’s origin is disputed, coming either from Walt Disney, from Bette Davis’ husband or …

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    How MoviePass could revolutionise the cinema business

    The film business has changed more in the past few decades than in any time since its inception.  Technological innovations have massively affected almost every area of the film lifecycle, including:

    • Pre-production. Computer-based scheduling, email communication with cast and crew, virtual casting tapes / Skype casting, mobile phones on set, etc.
    • Production. Digital cameras have made it cheaper and easier to shoot, watch back rushes, test digital effects on-set, etc.
    • Post-production. Probably the biggest area of technical change.  Most of us will think about the boom in Visual Effects but there have been big changes behind the scenes, too. Computer-based editing has shrunk the cost and scale of picture editing, allowing for greater collaboration between people (either in the same location or apart) and …
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    How the genre of film production changes around the world

    Last week, I shared the results of a research project I conducted into the genre of global film production.

    Today, I’m drilling into those numbers to look at how filmmaking tastes change between different countries.

    This comes from my dataset of every movie I could find that was produced over the past twenty years – that’s over 117,000 movies from in 151 countries, shot between 1998 to 2017, inclusive.

    Let’s start by breaking down the movies into continent of origin and then later we’ll zoom into the individual nations.

    Which continent’s filmmakers lead each genre

    The chart below shows which continent movies of each genre come from, over the twenty-year period I studied. For example, 50% of all Historical movies made over that time came from European nations.  …

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    Genre trends in global film production

    A few years ago, I looked at what genres are disproportionately popular with cinema audiences around the world.  We learned that Italians enjoyed more comedies, that Asian nations love action, Europeans love drama and that romance burns brightest among Mexican film fans.

    That study looked at how films were received in cinemas, but a few weeks ago, it occurred to me that there was another group of people whose genre tastes we could measure – the filmmakers making the movies.

    So I set about building a database of the movies made in each country and what genre they are.  Now, I’m willing to concede that the scale of the research I did for today’s article was slightly out of proportion with the value of its findings, …

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    The big changes taking place in UK film production

    New figures released last week about UK film production in 2017 have prompted questions from readers about the health and evolving nature of the UK film industry.

    I’m focusing on the production sector because otherwise it would be far too big a topic for one article. I’ve split the key changes into five points (and a bonus one at the end for good measure).

    I’ll start with the happier trends and work towards the less positive changes.

    1. Overall, the production sector is booming

    In just under twenty years, the amount spent on feature films in the UK has ballooned from £389 million in 1998 to £1.9 billion in 2017.  Once we take inflation into account, this is an almost threefold increase. Some of the …

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