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.

What films are older cinemagoers watching?

Following the trends article at the start of the year, I have been receiving requests for more details on some of the topics I covered.  One of the six trends I noted was the ageing cinema audience, which led to a number of people asking what types of movies older audiences turn out for. 

So today I’m going to show which movies are favoured by older audiences, who’s in them and the journey we take in our film choices as we age. 

Pop quiz, hot shot

Before I dig into the detail, I wanted to set you a little challenge.  Each year, the BFI’s Statistical Yearbook reports which movies had a significantly above-average attendance by different types of people.

Your task is to match up each of the six …

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When and how the film business went digital

Last week, I looked at six trends for how the film business is changing.  It got a great response and I was heartened to see such interesting, lively debate about it.  One of the topics raised by a few people was the move from analog to digital processes.  I didn’t include the move to digital as a trend because it’s not one single thing, with each corner of the industry transitioning at a different pace.

So this week I thought I would take you through a quick tour of when and how various aspects of the film industry moved to digital technology.  For some aspects, I have lots of data, while others are a little scant.  If you have knowledge or data on anything …

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Six ways the film business is changing

The coming of a new year always makes me pause and take stock.  It’s a time when people traditionally ponder what they’re up to, where they’re going and what they want to do next.  So I have spent some time thinking about what’s happening in the film business and where we’re going.  I don’t like predictions (see the Epilogue for more about this) but there are a few trends which give us clues about the next few years in film.

Each of these trends really requires several charts and graphs, but just in case you had other plans for today I have limited myself to no more than one for each trend. I have added some links for further reading, for those of …

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The film financing of a £660k feature film

Last year, I shared the full costs and income of a £850k feature film called Papadopoulos & Sons.  The article remains popular and has led to a number of people asking me to share similar details of other films.  It’s a tricky ask, as the film industry is normally a closed shop and withholds numbers even when there is no obvious reason to do so.  

However, every now and then I meet filmmakers who are committed to helping the film community by sharing their journey.  

Today’s article covers the film financing of a new feature called Alleycats. The film’s director Ian Bonhôte and its producer Andee Ryder have been kind enough to share with me how they raised two-thirds of a million pounds. …

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Are movies based on true stories better than fictional stories?

Last week, I looked at movies based on true stories, following a question from Kathleen Drumm, TIFF Industry Director.  Kathleen also asked about the quality of these movies and posited that they are likely to be better than your average movie, due to the fact that they frequently make up a large number of Oscar nominations for ‘Best Picture’. 

To study this topic, I built a dataset of all movies which grossed at least $1 in US cinemas between 1996 and 2015 (inclusive) and then looked at each movie’s Metascore.  Metascore averages the ratings of major film critics to produce a score out of 100.  The Metascore will stand in as our measure of what film critics think of a movie and we’ll judge the …

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How many movies are based on real life events?

This year we have experienced a number of real life events which if you saw them in a movie, would test the limits of your credulity. So perhaps appropriately, I have received a couple of questions about the representation of real life events in movies. Kathleen Drumm, Industry Director for the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is running a session on 5th December entitled ‘Based on a True Story‘ and she emailed to ask about the current state of movies based on real life events.

I’m going to tackle this in two parts.  Today, I am going to look at the number of movies made based on real life events and then next week we’ll look at the quality and success of such movies.

Real …
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How does the average age of actors differ between genres?

Age is a touchy subject for many actors, and last September actors in California have won the right to have their date of birth removed from IMDb. IMDb claims that a date of birth is just a piece of biographical data (therefore fair game for publication) whereas the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) claim that it can be used against an actor – it’s not their true age that should matter but their ‘playing age’.  

In the past I have studied how Hollywood treats cast and crew of different ages.  I started by looking at how much older male romantic comedy actors are compared with their female co-stars (answer: 4.5 years older) and whether male action stars are getting older (answer: yes they …

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The power shift in film exhibition: A case study of ourscreen

Film distribution and exhibition are going through a radical metamorphosis. For the first 100 years of film, the business model didn’t change much. In the first five or so decades, audiences had to see movies in cinemas, or never get a chance to see them again.  From around the 1950s, movies also appeared on television and in the 1980s the home video market emerged.  

These technologies provided new ways to watch movies but did not change the power dynamic between the industry and audiences. The public had to wait until the industry was ready to sell them access to the movie, and the industry set the terms.  

This meant huge delays between a movie appearing on home video or TV, and also it took a long …

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What are Video on Demand audiences watching?

Here is the fourth of four article I wrote for the American Film Market, with Bruce Nash from The Numbers.  Enjoy!

One of the major problems that producers and studios are struggling with is the lack of transparency in the new distribution landscape. It is currently quite difficult to see how a film has performed in Video on Demand (VOD) and there has been no significant analysis into what types of films are best suited to these new distribution streams.

Pulling together data from a number of sources (including VOD ranking data) we have been able to look at what VOD audiences want to watch and how this compares with other media. The nature of the data means we can’t provide the …

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The most culturally important horror movies

I am currently working on a long-term project about horror movies, which should be ready early next year.  In the meantime, the occasion of Halloween affords me a good excuse to start to talk about the genre, specifically which are the most culturally important horror movies.

As part of my research, I wanted to find a way to measure the cultural impact of horror movies.  Clearly, this is a huge topic upon which PhDs can be claimed so I shall limit this to a very narrow question: Which horror movies have been referenced most often in other movies and TV shows?

Which are the most culturally important horror movies?

Using data from IMDb and Wikipedia, I put together a dataset of the most-referenced horror movies.  On top is …

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