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.

Are video game movies the worst type of adaptations?

The recent release of Pokémon Detective Pikachu has prompted some readers to get in touch and ask about the quality of movies based on video games.

Most of the questions were variations of: “Are video game movies the worst type of movie adaptations?

To answer this, I looked at all movies released in US cinemas between 1993 and 2018, inclusive. (See the Note section for a more detailed explanation of the dataset and sources).

I’m going to use the Metacritic score and IMDb rating to serve as measures of quality from the perspective of film critics and film audiences, respectively.

Let’s first acquaint ourselves with the genre.

A primer in video game movies

The first movie adapted from a video game was 1993’s Super Mario Bros and in …

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Which actors most frequently appear in excellent / awful movies?

In a previous article, I have looked at the ‘brands’ of top actors by studying the genres they most frequently appear in.

Today, I am going to look at another facet of an actor’s brand: what their presence in a movie signals to the audience about the movie’s quality.

Quality is obviously a subjective term and so rather than trying to figure this out myself, I’m going to use two proxies:

  • Metascore, which is a weighted average of the ratings given by top film critics, as calculated by Metacritic.
  • IMDb audience rating, which is the score given by IMDb users.

I’ll be looking at both measures as these two constituencies – critics and audiences – don’t always agree.  Critics tend to favour high-brow, dramatic content …

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A data-led analysis on how to survive the Cannes Film Festival

The Cannes Film Festival and Market are just around the corner. It’s a mad mix of five-star movies, five-minute meetings and five-Euro bottles of water.

To help attendees get the most out of their trip, I have gone through my archives of Cannes research, and conducted some new research, to see what a data-led analysis can reveal.

I’ve boiled down the key points to just eight main takeaways, with links to explore each in more detail.

1. The opening weekend is the time to be there

Over the years, I have conducted numerous studies into when people attend top film festivals and the opening weekend always comes out on top.  This year that means the 18th and 19th of May.

In 2016, I interviewed 575 …

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To what degree do actors stick to just one genre?

When the public first hears of a new movie, they don’t have much information to judge it on.  This is before they can get a steer on the quality of the film (i.e. no reviews, no word of mouth) so they have only scant information with which to form an opinion on whether or not to see it.

The company behind it is rarely a factor (with the possible exception of Disney and their sub-brands Pixar and Marvel).  Not many directors have a strong commercial public brand and almost no producers or writers do.  So what is the public using to form their snap judgement?  It normally comes down to:

  • The genre(s)
  • The poster elements (i.e. name, visual style and logline)
  • The main actor(s)

This …

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Which countries most commonly team up to create film co-productions?

In the past few months, I have received a growing number of questions relating to international collaboration on movies. Some relate to the individual level of cast and crew working across borders while others focus on films as commercial products manufactured in more than one country.

It’s hard to tell why the topic of international collaboration in the film industry is becoming more frequent in readers’ questions.  It could be Brexit specifically or a more general sense that as nationalism rises around the world, the need for partnership in the arts increases.

With no Brexit deal on the horizon, we are still unsure what Britain’s departure from the EU will mean for the British and European film industries.  Some aspects both have …

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What percentage of film producers are women?

Last week, I looked at producers’ careers and this week I am going to use the same data to look at how the picture differs between male and female film producers.

This research harnesses my dataset of every feature film released between 1949 and 2018 inclusive. This includes 631,365 producer credits across 274,991 films and 269,385 individual producers.

For today’s article, I’m going to assume that readers are familiar with the different types of producing credits.  If you would like a quick primer then head over to last week’s article, entitled On average, how many films does a producer produce? In the opening section, I have detailed the different credits and what they mean.

What percentage of film producers are women?

In 2018, 26.4% of all …

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On average, how many films does a producer produce?

A few months ago, I looked at the average number of films a director is likely to make over their career.  This led to people asking about producers and so I agreed to take a look.

The role of a movie producer is wide-ranging, flexible and often confusing.  Added to that, there are a number of different types of producer credit, each holding different meaning and power.

I used my dataset of every fiction feature film made between 1949 and 2018 inclusive, and zeroed in on the producer credits.  This includes 631,365 producer credits across 274,991 films and 269,385 individual producers.

Let’s start by looking at what producer credits there are and then move on to producing careers.

Producers award producer credits

For most senior positions on major films, there …

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How does VidAngel filter objectionable content from movies?

Today I am sharing research I have conducted on VidAngel – a service which offers censored versions of Hollywood movies.

You may have heard about VidAngel last month as they hit the headlines due to a ruling in a court case against major Hollywood studios, including Disney.

The news spurred me on to take a close look at what they do, how they do it and what exactly they are filtering out of Disney movies.  I built up a dataset of all filters they have for feature films on their site – over half a million objectionable items across 2,974 feature films.

VidAngel in a nutshell

VidAngel is a Utah-based company which seeks to help audiences filter out objectionable material from mainstream movies. They have …

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How are movie advertising budgets spent?

The marketing of movies is a fascinating topic. There is an inherent contradiction, because it is both very visible and highly opaque at the same time.

We see movie marketing every day on almost all possible platforms and yet filmmakers struggle to learn about the economics of how it works.

To help with this, I am going to take a look at how money is spent to market movies in the UK. This article is based on professional industry estimates of marketing spend for 1,288 movies released over the past decade (more info in the Notes section at the end).

How are movies promoted?

According to Nielsen Media Research, £229.5 million was spent advertising movies to the British public in 2017.

The spend is broken …

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Who dominates the screenwriting software market?

Screenwriting was one of the first sectors of the film industry to embrace digital technology.

Way back in the early 1990s, software packages were being launched which empowered screenwriters to craft their work safe in the knowledge that they could maintain multiple versions, back up important scripts and meet the industry’s tough formatting guidelines.

Cut to thirty years later and now there are dozens of packages available, many offering extra features to help writers with brainstorming, planning and reporting on all aspects of the script.

I thought it would be interesting to take a quick look at the biggest packages on the market and see how they stack up against each other.

I’m going to measure three things:

  • Awareness – Market penetration among screenwriters
  • Activity – Percentage of …
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