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.

How far in advance are film trailers released?

Last week, I took a look at the length of film trailers.  I found that the average trailer runs for 114 seconds, and the longest trailers belong to documentaries and historical films. As I was conducting that research, another question occurred to me – how early are trailers released?  

I still remember as a teenager watching the super-early teaser trailer for what would become the 1998 version of Godzilla.  The teaser trailer had a production budget of $600k and featured no footage from the final movie, due to the fact that it was completed before the main movie had even been shot!  This is a rarity but teaser trailers still abound.

Using data from my previous trailer database and publically available …

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How long is the average movie trailer?

I’ll admit it – I’m not a fan of movie trailers.  It feels like their two purposes are to spoil the best bits of a movie and to frustrate the audience by pointing out how long we have to wait before we can see the whole movie.  Imagine if the free samples in a supermarket were followed by a two-month gap before the product was available for purchase. 

Nonetheless, they’re here to stay.  And despite their significance in the film industry, they’re a topic I am yet to cover on this blog.  

To cover up this glaring omission, I have conducted two research projects – the first is below, looking at the length of trailers, and next week I will address …

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Patterns among the most profitable movies budgeted $20m to $50m

Last year, I conducted a series of research projects with Bruce Nash of The Numbers, on behalf of the American Film Market.  Our findings were received well and so in the true spirit of the film industry, the AFM have commissioned some sequels and spin-offs! 

In one of the articles, we took a look at what it takes for a low-budget film to become a breakout hit, and discovered that the most successful movies came from a small number of specific genres. Twelve months on, we thought it would be interesting to take a look at films at the top end of the “independent” budget range and see if these hits also share some of the same DNA.

To do this, we compiled …

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How many shots are in the average movie?

Last week, I experienced the latest Transformers movie.  The constant fast-paced action and frenetic editing got me thinking just how many shots were in that movie.  

Sadly, I lost count during the screening but afterwards, I resolved to look into the broader question: How many shots are in the average movie?

How many shots are in the average movie?

Let’s start by directly answering the question which started this research.  Across all the movies I could find data for (released 1997 to 2016), the average number of shots in a movie is 1,045.  But I’m sure regular readers know that I’m not going to end the article purely because I’ve answered the original question!

Unsurprisingly, there are huge variations between movies.  Russian Ark …

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The effect of Brexit on the UK film industry

It’s been almost a year since I last addressed the topic of Brexit on this blog and I’ve wanted to give you an update for a while. The reason you’re reading this now is that the BFI have finally released an internal report (commissioned last summer) which looks at the effect of Brexit on the UK’s screen sector.

The report was put out to tender last August and the finished document delivered to the BFI’s Screen Sector Task Force in January. It wasn’t publicly available, so I put in a Freedom of Information request and last Friday the report was added to the BFI site. I strongly recommend that you download and read the full report yourself. It’s 84 pages long …

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The UK’s secret 20% tax relief for short films

Short films have long been a vital part of the journey of new filmmakers, allowing them to learn new skills, meet like-minded collaborators and showcase their talent.  

Most people’s first few shorts have a budget of almost (or exactly) nothing, with the filmmakers relying on the help of friends and family.  However, as their ambition grows, so too must their budget. The cost of a short film can vary wildly, but over half of the short films submitted to the Raindance Film Festival cost more than £3,000.

Short filmmakers do all sorts of things to raise money for their short films, including crowdfunding, applying to schemes, begging family and spending their own savings.  So it may come as a surprise …

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What percentage of box office income goes to local films?

A few weeks ago, I looked at how much of Hollywood’s box office cinema is earned outside North America. The figure for 2016 was 63%, meaning that just 37% of the box office gross for Hollywood movies was from US and Canadian cinemas.   This prompted a few people to get in contact to ask how this compares to the film industries of other countries. 

I’m going to focus on European countries as these are the ones for which I have the most complete and equivalent data.  

Local films in the top 10 European film markets

Let’s start by looking at the top ten film markets in Europe.  France is both the largest market (213 million admissions last year) and also had the highest …

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What’s changed in the world of film festivals?

Just over a year ago I published a long piece about the huge changes we’ve witnessed in the film festival market over the past fifteen years.  It covered the emergence of online submission service Withoutabox, how the industry fell in love with Withoutabox, how it then fell out love thanks to poor service and monopolistic practices (due to their all-powerful patent) and finally the emergence of a rival, FilmFreeway.

If you’ve not read the piece then I recommend you do now as (a) it’s quite an entertaining, shocking story and (b) it will provide context for today’s article.

A year later, I thought I’d check in and see what’s changed.  I spoke to Withoutabox, FilmFreeway and senior people within major film festivals.  Throughout the article, I …

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Is Seed & Spark’s high crowdfunding success rate for real?

In our industry, it’s not uncommon to hear people making bold claims.  They declare that their film is going to make a fortune, that they will soon collect an Oscar and that their new start-up is better than anything else on the market.  

Normally I just ignore this hyperbole, but once in a while, I ask for proof.  Few people reply and even fewer can back up their claims.  Today’s article is about one company that can and did defend their bold claim.

Seed & Spark is a crowdfunding platform aimed at the film industry which claims to have “the highest success rate in the crowdfunding business”.  As regular readers will know, I have studied the world of film crowdfunding for a while, …

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How important is international box office to Hollywood?

Today I’m responding to an email I received from James, who asked how important international box office revenue is to Hollywood studios.  It’s a great question as it’s at the heart of one of the major trends affecting the film business in the 21st century. 

In film industry terminology, “domestic” box office revenue means the money collected in cinemas in the US and Canada, while money grossed in cinemas anywhere else in the world is classed as “international”. 

The growth of the international box office

I built a dataset of all movies released between 1990 and 2016 and looked at their domestic and international box office revenues.  Let’s start by focusing on how much of the money collected by movies from the big six studios came from …

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