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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The data behind terrible, terrible movies

Last week, I used the release of Robin Hood as a catalyst for an article about box office flops.  Normally, I don’t like to single films out for undue criticism but sometimes it can’t be avoided.  I’ll try and be more restrained in future articles.

This week, I’m turning to the completely different topic of terrible, terrible movies – such as the recent release of Robin Hood.  The film has received an average score of 32 out of 100 from film critics (just 15% of reviewers gave it a positive review) and it has an IMDb score of 5.3 out of 10. Also, I saw it and I want my time back.

To try and make lemonade out of this lemon, I decided …

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The most culturally important horror movies

I am currently working on a long-term project about horror movies, which should be ready early next year.  In the meantime, the occasion of Halloween affords me a good excuse to start to talk about the genre, specifically which are the most culturally important horror movies.

As part of my research, I wanted to find a way to measure the cultural impact of horror movies.  Clearly, this is a huge topic upon which PhDs can be claimed so I shall limit this to a very narrow question: Which horror movies have been referenced most often in other movies and TV shows?

Which are the most culturally important horror movies?

Using data from IMDb and Wikipedia, I put together a dataset of the most-referenced horror movies.  On top is …

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The numbers behind clowns in movies

Regular readers will know that I often study topics suggested by members of the public.  In the past, they have included subjects such as racial diversity, movie recoupment and public investment in the arts.  However this week, most of the questions I have received have been about clowns in movies.  Yes, clowns.

To be honest, I’m a bit confused about why the media is currently so fascinated by cartoon-like, buffoonish men with unrealistic hair who destroy any vehicle they’re left in charge of (maybe it’s got something to do with the American election?)

Either way, the end result of all the clown-based news stories is that I have put together the following movie facts to satisfy your clown cravings.

We’re in a clown movie boom

I …

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Do good movie reviews lead to a higher chance of financial success?

Some producers do all they can to court film critics, under the impression that one positive review in the right journal can herald financial success for their movie.  While other producers scoff at the notion of the all-powerful film critic, believing instead that reviews hold no sway in the actions of movie-goers.

Bruce Nash from The Numbers and I investigated this very topic, by studying the correlation between the reviews a movie receives and its chance of reaching profitability. Or to put it in the language of the ruthless investor or producer:  “Does it actually matter if critics think my movie is any good?”

We looked at 3,715 feature films released in US cinemas 2000-15 for which we have production budget information (a …

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Film vs movie – Which is the best term to use?

In the last few weeks I have been writing articles about big budget Hollywood blockbusters and in doing so I have faced a linguistic dilemma.  Until now, I almost exclusively used the term film on this blog, rather than movie.  It somehow felt more appropriate and mirrored the conversations I have in the industry.  However, it sounds strange to refer to ‘Fast & Furious 7″ as a film rather than a movie, so I opted to talk about “Hollywood movies” in those articles.

Now I’m back to writing about things other than Hollywood blockbusters and I find myself… confused.  Which is the better phrase?  Which of the two do most people use? What do they even mean?

So, as regular readers would expect, I have turned to the …

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The scale of Hollywood remakes and reboots

There a number of clear signs you’re getting older; Policemen look younger, music gets louder and more unintelligible and you start complaining more often about “How could they possibly remake that movie?”

Personally, I think part of the outcry against any upcoming Hollywood remake is in fact misplaced anxiety about the passage of time and the ever-closer creeping inevitability of death, but I guess that’s a debate for a different blog. While you’re still around to complain, would you like to see the stats on Hollywood remakes?  ‘Course you would…

  • The percentage of Hollywood remakes has been falling over the past decade
  • In 2005, 17% of top grossing films were Hollywood remakes but by 2014 it was just 5%
  • The fourth horror film ever made was a …
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Hollywood sequels by the numbers

Last week’s article on how original Hollywood movies are had such a great response that I’ve rushed out a sequel featuring many of the same characters.  Not only that, but I’ve twigged that I can split the follow-up into two parts to maximise my audience.  (I may have been studying Hollywood for too long…) This week I am looking at Hollywood sequels and next week I will be addressing remakes and reboots.  I looked at the 100 highest US grossing films of each of the past 10 years, focusing on Hollywood sequels and prequels.  In summary…

  • In the past 10 years, the number of top grossing films which were sequels has more than doubled
  • In both 2013 and 2014, seven of the top 10 grossing films were …
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How original are Hollywood movies?

A while ago I looked at the source of Hollywood films, to see what existing material they were adapted from.  It’s a topic I continue to get questions about; specifically about the number of sequels, spinoffs and reboots in Hollywood today.  Therefore, I’ve decided to take a more detailed look at the lineage of the top grossing Hollywood films.

Today’s research looks at the 100 highest grossing films at the US box office in each year between 2005 and 2014 (1,000 films in total). In summary…

  • 39% of top movies released 2005-14 were truly original, i.e. not an adaptation, sequel, spin-off, remake, or other such derivative work
  • The biggest ten movies of each year are rarely truly original (15% of the time, 2005-14).
  • In both 2013 and …
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The best and worst ever films at Cannes

As the weather cools and the faces become ever more haggard, it’s clear that we’re past the midpoint of the Cannes Film Festival. The reviews are in for about half of the selected ‘In Competition’ films at Cannes and speculation is rife about who will win the coveted Palme d’Or.  

To mark this moment, I have looked back at what film audiences and critics made of past nominees and winners. In summary;

  • Pulp Fiction is the highest scoring film with audiences to ever have played in Cannes
  • Pan’s Labyrinth is the best reviewed Cannes-nominated film ever.
  • The worst Cannes nominated film, according to audiences, was Utomlyonnye solntsem 2: Predstoyanie
  • Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me received an average Metascore of just 28 out of 100
  • The film with …
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