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 do actors compare to the general population?

Acting is a strange profession, with many contradictions.

  • The job officially requires no qualifications but actors are expected to train to a high level in a wide variety of skills.
  • Good actors convince audiences that they are the character (rather than an actor pretending) and yet top actors have loyal fanbases keen to see the specific actor who’s doing the pretending.
  • It’s nominally a meritocratic industry but most successful actors are coincidentally thin and attractive with great hair.

As regular readers will know, I have recently built a dataset of all working actors in the UK using data these performers have published about themselves in their professional profiles. Today, I thought it would be interesting to look at how the pool of professional UK actors compares …

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Is a delayed release a sign that a movie will be bad?

X-Men: Dark Phoenix opened in cinemas a few weeks ago – a release date which is significantly later than first intended.

The film’s director, Simon Kinberg, blamed the delayed release on a few factors, including the complexity of the film’s visual effects.  Said Kinberg:

When we felt like we weren’t going to be able to complete the movie to the level we wanted to complete it from a visual effects standpoint, we considered moving it from November [2018] to February [2019]. Then, because of the way the international calendar was for us and how fast we could get materials to other territories, we felt like February became not just challenging, but not necessarily the best window internationally for the film.

Dark Phoenix started shooting …

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What percentage of actors are willing to perform nude?

On-screen nudity has always been a contentious topic for new actors.

Many movies and television shows have small roles for actors who are willing to bare their bodies, meaning that if an up-and-coming actor disrobes on-screen, they can potentially give their CV a boost.

On the other hand, doing so means that there will forever be video clips of them naked online: something that would make the vast majority of people uncomfortable.

We cannot get inside the head of every actor facing this choice, but we are able to measure what actors mark on their professional profile in relation to their willingness to perform nude. The data for today’s piece comes from my database of every working actor in the UK who has a public …

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Is acting a profession dominated by the young?

I have been asked a number of times over the years to study actors and the acting profession.

The interested parties tend to fall into one of two camps:

  • Young, fresh-faced up-and-coming actors looking to understand how they can best succeed in their exciting new career of acting.
  • Working professional actors asking why the industry is so biased, unfair and looking for evidence as to whether they should quit or battle through for another year.
  • It’s tricky to do a small amount of research on the topics at hand.  To properly study the profession, I would need to build a huge database of every actor working in the UK, at all levels, along with all manner of details about them, including their level of …

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    How far in advance are movie release dates announced?

    Earlier this month, Disney published release dates for their upcoming slate of movies, including their newly expanded roster of titles acquired when they bought rival studio Fox.

    This included a domestic theatrical release date (i.e. when the movie will open in American and Canadian cinemas) for Avatar 5 of 17th December 2027.

    Yup, the date has been fixed a whopping 3,144 days ahead of the actual release.

    In many cases, the release date is literally the only piece of information revealed about an upcoming movie – even before the movie’s title.  Disney’s future release schedule currently contains dates for 29 “untitled” films, including:

    • Twelve movies called “Untitled Disney Live Action”
    • Eight called “Untitled Marvel”
    • Four “Untitled Pixar” (although only two of them are described as animations)
    • Three …
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    Are video game movies the worst type of adaptations?

    The recent release of Pokémon Detective Pikachu has prompted some readers to get in touch and ask about the quality of movies based on video games.

    Most of the questions were variations of: “Are video game movies the worst type of movie adaptations?

    To answer this, I looked at all movies released in US cinemas between 1993 and 2018, inclusive. (See the Note section for a more detailed explanation of the dataset and sources).

    I’m going to use the Metacritic score and IMDb rating to serve as measures of quality from the perspective of film critics and film audiences, respectively.

    Let’s first acquaint ourselves with the genre.

    A primer in video game movies

    The first movie adapted from a video game was 1993’s Super Mario Bros and in …

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    Which actors most frequently appear in excellent / awful movies?

    In a previous article, I have looked at the ‘brands’ of top actors by studying the genres they most frequently appear in.

    Today, I am going to look at another facet of an actor’s brand: what their presence in a movie signals to the audience about the movie’s quality.

    Quality is obviously a subjective term and so rather than trying to figure this out myself, I’m going to use two proxies:

    • Metascore, which is a weighted average of the ratings given by top film critics, as calculated by Metacritic.
    • IMDb audience rating, which is the score given by IMDb users.

    I’ll be looking at both measures as these two constituencies – critics and audiences – don’t always agree.  Critics tend to favour high-brow, dramatic content …

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    A data-led analysis on how to survive the Cannes Film Festival

    The Cannes Film Festival and Market are just around the corner. It’s a mad mix of five-star movies, five-minute meetings and five-Euro bottles of water.

    To help attendees get the most out of their trip, I have gone through my archives of Cannes research, and conducted some new research, to see what a data-led analysis can reveal.

    I’ve boiled down the key points to just eight main takeaways, with links to explore each in more detail.

    1. The opening weekend is the time to be there

    Over the years, I have conducted numerous studies into when people attend top film festivals and the opening weekend always comes out on top.  This year that means the 18th and 19th of May.

    In 2016, I interviewed 575 …

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    To what degree do actors stick to just one genre?

    When the public first hears of a new movie, they don’t have much information to judge it on.  This is before they can get a steer on the quality of the film (i.e. no reviews, no word of mouth) so they have only scant information with which to form an opinion on whether or not to see it.

    The company behind it is rarely a factor (with the possible exception of Disney and their sub-brands Pixar and Marvel).  Not many directors have a strong commercial public brand and almost no producers or writers do.  So what is the public using to form their snap judgement?  It normally comes down to:

    • The genre(s)
    • The poster elements (i.e. name, visual style and logline)
    • The main actor(s)

    This …

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    Which countries most commonly team up to create film co-productions?

    In the past few months, I have received a growing number of questions relating to international collaboration on movies. Some relate to the individual level of cast and crew working across borders while others focus on films as commercial products manufactured in more than one country.

    It’s hard to tell why the topic of international collaboration in the film industry is becoming more frequent in readers’ questions.  It could be Brexit specifically or a more general sense that as nationalism rises around the world, the need for partnership in the arts increases.

    With no Brexit deal on the horizon, we are still unsure what Britain’s departure from the EU will mean for the British and European film industries.  Some aspects both have …

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