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.

Has piracy affected the film business?

This is the first of ten articles revealing the results of my survey of 1,235 film industry professionals. More details of the survey and my methodology can be found here and for any questions or clarification please contact me.

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Key Findings – …
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Methodology of my Film Industry Survey 2014

This post explains my ‘Film Industry Survey 2014’, sets out my aims of the project and the exact methodology. You can read the full survey as one 25-page PDF by signing up to my free mailing list or you can read each section as individual blog articles at the following links…

  • Has piracy affected business?
  • Do film professionals illegally download films?
  • Is film a sensible business investment?
  • Do women have a harder time than men?
  • Is 3D better than 2D?
  • What are the average distribution fees?
  • How do professionals pick their next project?
  • How optimistic is the industry about the future?
  • When will VoD pay like DVD?
  • Where does film financing come from?

The film industry is heavily influenced by shifting opinions, so I thought it would be fascinating to take …

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How many people work on a Hollywood film?

Last week I ran a course in Malaysia for the Met Film School and the Malaysian Government. Malaysia is set to be a popular destination for Hollywood projects, thanks mostly to the 30% tax break and the brand new Pinewood Studio complex. The studio is not officially open yet but already ‘Marco Polo’ has set up shop and is hiring. The Malaysian government is funding courses to prepare locals for work on huge Hollywood productions and my course last week was for would-be Production Assistants.

In order to give the students a sense of the scale of these productions I asked them to guess how many people worked on the movie ‘Avatar’. Guesses ranged from a few hundred up to a …

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The state of cinemas throughout Europe

This week I flew from New York to Kuala Lumpur for a project with Pinewood Studios, Met Film School and the Malaysian government. The new studios will mean a boom for the film service economy in Johor Bahru and nearby Kuala Lumpur so it’s an exciting time for the country. Despite the warm weather, fantastic food and polite people I am missing the UK and so thought I would look at some stats closer to home.

I took a look at some data sources for cinemas throughout Europe. In summary…

  • The biggest box offices in Europe are in France, UK and Germany
  • Almost half of all cinema tickets sold in Turkey are for Turkish films
  • Switzerland has the most expensive cinema tickets in Europe
  • Cinema …
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Where do UK consumers buy their DVDs?

In discussions about why certain types of British films are made, the topic of supermarkets often comes up. The experience of purchasing a DVDs in a Tesco or Asda is a very different to that of browsing online retails such as or in dedicated shops such as HMV. Anecdotally I’m told that it favours films which “go well with a few beers”, hence the increase in gangster and football-focused films of late. I can’t provide data on which films go well with a Carling but we can look at where UK consumers are buying their DVD and Blu-rays.

In summary…

  • UK consumers buy more DVDs in supermarkets than online
  • Almost a quarter of all the DVDs sold in the UK are bought …
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Which MPAA rating earns the most money?

Last week I looked at the top 100 films for each of the past 20 years, and whether they were adaptations or original screenplays. That post sparked a flurry of follow-up questions, with many people wanting to know more stats about those 2,000 films. A common question was about film ratings.

Last year I looked at the rating system in the UK (“Raters Gonna Rate“) so this post is exclusively about the American rating system. In America films are voluntarily rated by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), although few unrated films are released in major cinemas.

In summary:

  • 41% of releases are PG-13 but they make up 47% of the box office
  • In 1995 PG-13 films took 31% of the Box Office …
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What are the highest-grossing movie adaptations?

This week I have been looking at the 100 highest grossing films for each of the last 20 years. This gave me a dataset of 2,000 films with which to answer a question from Tom Worth…

Can you crunch the data on the number of films that are original screenplays and those that are based on some other source be it a book, comic, another film, etc. We all know Hollywood has gone franchise crazy recently but I’d be interested to see that actual data.

In summary…

  • 51% of the top 2,000 films of the last 20 years were movie adaptations
  • The most common source for movie adaptations is literary fiction.
  • 2012 saw five times the number of sequels released compared to 1999
  • Romantic Comedy is …
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How much does it cost to release a film in the UK?

This week, I’m taking a look at the true cost to release a film the UK.  Every few months a new article does the rounds on Facebook purporting to show the “most profitable films of all time“. The majority of these perform a simple calculation using the ratio of production budget to box office.  But this type of maths doesn’t factor in distribution costs such as marketing, advertising, percentage of box office paid to big stars and other additional costs to the studio after they pick up a film (music licensing, reshoots, etc).  Most of these costs fall under the term ‘Prints and Advertising’ (known as P&A).  The ‘Prints’ here are the film prints that the cinema projects to the public, …

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Are British films better than Hollywood films?

Towards the end of last year the BFI re-published numbers showing how poorly the average British film performs at the box office.  Overall only 7% made a profit, and that figure drops to 3.4% when you look at films costing under £500,000.  The figure was certainly headline-grabbing, but it wasn’t the whole picture.  Firstly, it doesn’t follow that the investors of the 93% of “non-profitable” films lost money.  Most UK films under £500,000 are operated via SEIS and EIS schemes which can protect as much as 78% of an investor’s money, meaning that a film can “under perform” at the box office and yet still allow the investor to recoup.  And secondly, the box office is only half the picture. …

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How many jobs are in Shooting People’s Filmmaker bulletin?

This week I took a look at independent filmmaking in the UK, to see what films are being made and what connections filmmakers are looking to form.  To do this, I analysed a year’s worth of jobs on the community site Shooting People.  I have been a member for over a decade and have used them many times to find cast, crew and collaborators. For those who don’t know, Shooting People is a daily email which serves as a bulletin board, news provider and soapbox for filmmakers. It costs £40 a year to subscribe and any member (known as a ‘Shooter’) can post to the bulletins.

I took a year’s worth of their flagship ‘Filmmaker’ bulletin (1st December 2012 to 30 November 2013 …

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