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.

The fate of Stephen King movie sequels

I am putting the finishing touches on a big report into horror movies, due for release in the coming months.  One of the many things I looked at was horror adaptations and so I thought it would be fun to share a small part of what I found as it’s become rather topical.

A new adaptation of Stephen King’s It is currently doing great business in cinemas worldwide, leading Warner Brothers to start work on a sequel, entitled Chapter One.  Details are still few and far between, but as the current film only adapted half of the original novel, the plot and characters are already common knowledge.

Excitement for the sequel is high, but the history of Stephen King adaptations contains an ominous warning.  

Let’s …

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Patterns among the most profitable movies budgeted $10m to $20m

This is the latest in a series of research projects I am conducting with Bruce Nash of The Numbers, on behalf of the American Film Market.  In previous articles, we’ve looked at patterns among the most profitable films budgeted between $20 million and $50 million, and those budgeted between $500k and $3 million. This time around, we start to fill in half of the gap by looking at films made for between $10 million and $20 million.

As before, we’ve 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 all sources of revenue and estimating marketing and distribution costs. That gives …

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A data dive into Patreon

As long-time readers will know, I’m keen to cover the speed and scope of changes within the film business.  The industry has experienced a greater degree of flux in the past decade than in the previous century, and yet more shape-shifting is on the horizon.  This transformation makes it a fascinating time to be entering or studying the film industry.

One of the areas of significant change is the evolving relationship between artists and audiences.  Historically, there have been many levels of middlemen between the artists (i.e. writers, directors, actors, etc) and their audience (i.e. the people who actually pay to watch their work).  Money and feedback from audiences flowed back to artists via a long chain of studios, sales agents, distributors, exhibitors, retailers …

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How many stunt performers work on a movie?

The film industry is full of under-appreciated people whose work doesn’t get the recognition it deserves.  Visual effects teams make movie stars look younger, body doubles make them look sexier and writers make them seem normal and likeable. But only one set of such heroes put their lives on the line in the course of their day jobs – stunt performers.

There has been a long-running campaign to get stunt performers recognised by the Oscars. Despite campaigning for over 25 years and gaining over 50,000 signatures, stunt performers haven’t yet managed to convince the Academy to add a stunt category.

Not only is their work under-recognised, it’s also often extremely dangerous. The past two months have brought us two tragic stunt accidents. Stuntman …

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How many films are released each year?

In an unusual moment of synchronicity this week, three unconnected people have contacted me to ask how many films are released in cinemas each year.  Each had different reasons for asking but all were working from the same basic hypothesis – that the number is increasing.  

In the past, I have looked at the number of feature films made (both in the UK and worldwide) but today we’re going to focus on the number of feature films released in cinemas to the paying public. This doesn’t include film festivals, private screenings or other types of content in cinemas, such as broadcasts of opera of theatre productions.

The first thing to note is that there is no one simple answer.  Firstly, we need …

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Measuring actors’ brands via facial recognition

Last week I shared my research into movie posters, in which I used facial recognition to track the emotions displayed on the faces of the lead actors. Today I thought I would follow another thread made possible by this method and look at the brands of some major Hollywood actors.  

When deciding what movie to watch, we as audience members don’t actually have much information to go on.  I know it can sometimes feel as if the studios are bombarding us with loads of trailers, clips and adverts but take a step back and look at what information they’re actually conveying.  In most cases, all of the ‘stuff’ they’re throwing at us is on the same theme and aiming to convey one simple message, …

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Using facial recognition to track emotions on movie posters

A few days ago, Disney revealed that they have developed AI technology which can read the faces of audiences to track how they are experiencing a movie, second by second. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise; Hollywood has long relied on test audiences to shape their movies and most modern smartphones have cameras which can locate and track human faces.  

Despite this, the reality that this is in current usage has become a big talking point in the industry.  Views vary from joy at being able to finally get reliable audience data to fear of how much this may embolden already-meddlesome studios to override the wishes of artists and auteurs.

Regardless of where you stand on the issue, it’s certainly an …

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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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