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 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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    How do film budgets change as they grow?

    One of the reasons it’s hard to make your first movie is that much of the information you need is not available. While we can all read granular box office figures online, it’s often hard to reliably discover how much a movie cost to make and it’s near impossible to know how they spent that money.

    And so I’m pretty excited to share today’s research. It’s a collaboration with Wayne Marc Godfrey, film producer and financier of more than 125 independent feature films. Later this year, he’s launching a new receivables and collections platform for creators and distributors called purely.capital.  In the lead-up to purely.capital’s launch, we’re working together on a few articles to shine a light on the financial side of independent film.

    First …

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    Are women less likely to direct a second movie than men?

    Last week, I looked at the average number of films a director is likely to make in their career, and also how many directors work on the average film.

    Today I am taking into account the gender of directors and looking at how the experiences of male and female directors differ.

    As a quick reminder, my dataset is of all fiction feature films produced around the world between 1949 and 2018 (over a quarter of a million movies).  You’ll find more detail on this in the Notes section at the end of the article and in last week’s piece using the same dataset.

    What percentage of film directors are women?

    It should come as no surprise to anyone (least of all readers of this …

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    How many films does the average director make?

    Last week on Twitter I was asked about the average director’s career and how many directors get to make a second film.

    This was sparked by some research I conducted a while ago on the average careers of British writers, producers and directors, and also by my 2016 study of female directors in UK film.  So I promised to return to the topic of directors’ careers and how they differ between male and female directors.

    To answer the questions fully, I built up a database of all fiction films made since 1949, worldwide –  a whopping 287,448 films.  Usually, I focus on films that reach cinemas, but this time I wanted to cast the net as wide as possible and study the …

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    The use of digital vs celluloid film on Hollywood movies

    Three years ago, I looked at Hollywood’s switch from shooting on film to using digital acquisition methods.

    Since then, I have received a number of questions about the topic.  Some are requests to update the piece with more recent data while others ask for more detail on how the use of digital formats differs between genres.

    As requested, this article will bring the data up-to-date, add twice as many films (looking at the top 200 movies each year, where previously I looked at the top 100) and go into more detail over the differences between genres.

    Tracking the switch from film to digital

    I researched the cameras used on all live-action fiction feature films within the top 200 grossing charts of each year. Please …

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    Defining the average screenplay, via data on 12,000+ scripts

    Last week, I published my analysis of 12,309 feature film screenplays and the scores they each received from professional script readers.

    A byproduct of that research was that I had a large number of data points on a whole bunch of screenplays.  This allowed me to look at what the average screenplay contains.

    Hopefully, this research will prove useful to writers, producers and directors looking to understand what a typical screenplay looks like and a benchmark against which they can assess their own work.

    All of these scripts were reviewed by professional script readers, either as a part of a screenplay competition or to create a script report.  The vast majority of these scripts will not have been produced into movies yet and a …

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    An analysis of 12,309 feature film script reports

    Script readers are powerful gatekeepers. They read and rate scripts on behalf of producers, studios and competitions, meaning that what they think of a script is critical.

    Scoring well with readers could lead to your screenplay reaching the desks of the great and the good (who are hopefully also the rich and the powerful). Scoring poorly could mean that all the countless hours you put into your screenplay will just have been “character building”.

    Script readers’ work is conducted in private and their feedback is rarely shared, even with the screenwriters they are rating.  This means there is very little empirical research into what readers think a good script looks like.

    Given the critical role they play in filtering scripts, this lack of data …

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    How much sexual violence is there in mainstream movies?

    Last week, the UK’s film censorship body, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), announced new rules on the depiction of sexual violence on screen.

    The BBFC’s certification guidelines are updated every five years after extensive public consultation.  Their most recent study highlighted the public’s worries about seeing sexual violence on the big screen and the “pornification” of modern movies.

    The example cited in most of the press was The Duchess, a film which is currently a 12A but which could be upped to a 15 if it were ever re-certified under the new guidelines.  This led me to wonder: how many other films would be affected by the change?

    To answer the question and to look into levels of sexual violence on the big …

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