Is the number of movie re-releases increasing?

Today’s article is in answer to a question I received from a reader.  Kevin emailed to ask “Is it just me, or are more and more old movies being re-released at the moment?”

I suspect Kevin has been triggered by the 20th-anniversary re-release of James Cameron’s drippy classic Titanic.  Although he could have been referring to Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Mulholland Drive, Maurice, GoodFellas, Daughters of the Dust, Prick Up Your Ears, Howards End, The Big Heat, Hellraiser, Terminator 2, Dirty Dancing, The Silence of the Lambs, The Graduate, and a black and white version of 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road – all of which were re-released in UK cinemas so far this year.

So let’s take a quick look at whether we’ve seen a greater number of movie re-releases recently.

How many …
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Are fewer young people watching movies in cinemas?

Last Wednesday, I gave a talk to 90 teenagers as a part of the Into Film festival.  This annual festival is a free, UK-wide “celebration of film & education for 5-19-year-olds” which holds screenings, workshops and lectures in cinema screens.  I will cover Into Film in more detail in a future post so today I wanted to look at a topic that came up in my conversations with the teenagers and festival organisers.

I was dismayed to learn that some of the teenagers at Into Film events had never been inside a cinema before.  This isn’t statistically unlikely, it just differs so much from my memories of being a teenager that I wasn’t expecting it.  I spent as much time in cinemas as …

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Are audiences tiring of 3D movies?

Last week saw the release of Justice League, a film in which a brave, plucky band of CGI artists gallantly battle Henry Cavill’s moustache. The film is available to watch in either 2D or 3D, with most multiplexes offering audiences either option.  I opted to see it in 2D and very much regretted it (not the choice of 2D, the decision to see it at all).

I had a lot of time to think during the movie, so I started to wonder whether many other film fans would have made the same choice I did and picked the 2D version over the extra-dimensional 3D option.

Sadly the box office figures for Justice League 2D vs Justice League 3D are unlikely to be released so …

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What types of horror films do television broadcasters want?

When new filmmakers think about their movie reaching audiences, they tend to picture its cinema release, or maybe what it will look like when it hits DVD shelves. Few fantasise about their movie’s first ever television broadcast.

Despite this, television is the largest source of revenue for movies.  This means that the total amount paid by broadcasters to licence movies is greater than the amount filmmakers earn from the theatrical release (i.e. cinemas), greater than all the money earned via video on demand platforms (i.e. iTunes and Netflix) and greater even than Home Entertainment revenues (i.e. DVDs and Blu-Ray).

Even if it’s not possible to get the granular level of detail we are used to from cinemas, filmmakers should do all they can to …

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The handful of tropes used by most horror movie posters

How many times have you seen a new movie poster and thought ‘That looks just like the poster for [another movie]”?  I’m guessing… pretty often.

Movie poster designers don’t seem worried about their work feeling derivative and often they are actually counting on your sense of déjà vu to promote their new movie. So it’s not surprising that some movie posters end up looking similar to one another. Even with that in mind, I doubt most people are aware of just how little diversity there is within movies of the same genre.  Today, I’m going to share the patterns among horror movie posters.

This research was part of an eighteen-month project I conducted studying all aspects of horror movies. The final result is …

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Three major ways movie release patterns are changing

Every few weeks, there is a news story about a new challenge to the traditional distribution model for movies.  The latest of these was the announcement last week that the new Shaft reboot would be using the hybrid release strategy. In the US, it will follow the usual movie release pattern (i.e. theatrical release followed by delayed release onto other platforms), but in the rest of the world, it will premiere on Netflix just two weeks after the US theatrical release. 

By using this innovative approach, the filmmakers were able to get Netflix to pay for “more than half” of the movie’s reported $30 million budget.

This news led me to wonder how movie release patterns are changing.  For today’s research, I built up several …

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Is a film’s length a sign of its quality?

A few months ago, Stuart Heritage wrote an article for the Guardian entitled “How to spot a bad film without even seeing it“.  It used the example of the Will Ferrell / Amy Poehler comedy The House to discuss his telltale signs that an upcoming film is worth avoiding. These included:

  • Embargoed reviews
  • Production rumours
  • Poster chicanery
  • Interviews about anything but the film
  • Sub-90-minute running time

The first on Stuart’s list – little to no early reviews – has already been covered well by Walt Hickey over at FiveThirtyEight.  In the article When Should You Buy Into A Movie’s Hype? he looked at the correlation between when movie reviews are released and the quality of the movie. Walt notes:

How early the reviews come in can tell us …

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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 or theatre productions.

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

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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 interesting development. …

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