A dive into the data behind film crowdfunding rewards

This week, I’m celebrating the launch of my new book ‘How To Crowdfund Your Film‘.  It’s published by Creative Essentials in physical and Kindle editions.

To coincide with the launch, I thought I would tackle a related question from a reader who got in touch to ask about the rewards offered on crowdfunding sites.  In the past, I have looked at the number of rewards offered but this reader was specifically asking about the success of different types of rewards.  i.e. not what filmmakers want to offer but rather what backers want to accept.

So I gathered data on rewards for all Kickstarter film projects launched between April 2009 and May 2018 – that’s 466,998 rewards in total – and set to work.

A quick primer on crowdfunding

Let’s start with a …

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The scale of BFI development and production funding

In a recent conversation with some filmmakers, I was asked about the amount of money the British Film Institute (BFI) awards to British films for development and production activities.

I thought it was a great topic for an article, so I agreed to take a look.

The BFI is a public body which, among other things, awards money raised from the National Lottery to people, projects and productions which will help the British film industry.  In the past, the BFI was primarily a cultural and heritage organisation but in 2011 its remit grew when it was given Lottery funding responsibilities from the newly-shut UK Film Council (UKFC).

How significant is the BFI’s financial support to UK films?

It’s hard to understate just how much …

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Patterns among the most profitable movies budgeted $3m to $10m

Today’s article is another joint project with Bruce Nash from The Numbers.  In a series of research studies for the American Film Market, we looked at what it takes for films to break out at different ends of the indie budget spectrum. We’ve looked at the most profitable low-budget films (with budgets under $3 million), those costing $10 million and $20 million, and also movies made for between $20 million to $50 million.

Now we will fill in the gap by looking at the most profitable movies budgeted between $3 million and $10 million.

As before, we reviewed all the films in Nash Information Services’ database in that budget range released between 2000 and 2016. We then identified the sixty most profitable movies, after accounting for …

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48 trends reshaping the film industry: Part 1 Development and Finance

Each week over the last five years, I have been covering different aspects of the film industry, explaining and illustrating how they function. Next month, I’ll carry on with my new research but for this month I would like to stop and zoom out a little.

By taking detailed data dives each week it’s easy to miss the bigger picture and lose sight of the wood for the trees.  So, for the next four weeks, I’m going to summarise the biggest trends and changes we’ve seen in the film industry recently.

To compile this list, I have been back through all of my old research, conducted new projects, read outside research and solicited suggestions from my industry readership (thank you to everyone who contributed). The result …

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How profitable are horror movies?

The horror genre is a perennial favourite among filmmakers.  The general perception is that they are fun to make, achievable on the lowest budgets and can earn a lot of money.

The final item on that list normally relies on the assumption that the horror movie in question has a chance to be the next Paranormal Activity or Blair Witch Project, both of which were ludicrously successful and therefore almost certainly highly profitable.

But what of the horror genre more widely?  For every runaway success, there are a whole host of flops and failures which make no money and are barely watched by anyone.  So with a list of all horror movies, let’s take a look at the average profitability.

This research is just one …

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Patterns among the most profitable movies budgeted $10m to $20m

This is the latest in a series of research projects I am conducting with Bruce Nash of The Numbers, on behalf of the American Film Market.  In previous articles, we’ve looked at patterns among the most profitable films budgeted between $20 million and $50 million, and those budgeted between $500k and $3 million. This time around, we start to fill in half of the gap by looking at films made for between $10 million and $20 million.

As before, we’ve reviewed all the films in Nash Information Services’ database in that budget range released between 2000 and 2016. We then identified the sixty most profitable movies, after accounting for all sources of revenue and estimating marketing and distribution costs. That gives …

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A data dive into Patreon

As long-time readers will know, I’m keen to cover the speed and scope of changes within the film business.  The industry has experienced a greater degree of flux in the past decade than in the previous century, and yet more shape-shifting is on the horizon.  This transformation makes it a fascinating time to be entering or studying the film industry.

One of the areas of significant change is the evolving relationship between artists and audiences.  Historically, there have been many levels of middlemen between the artists (i.e. writers, directors, actors, etc) and their audience (i.e. the people who actually pay to watch their work).  Money and feedback from audiences flowed back to artists via a long chain of studios, sales agents, distributors, exhibitors, retailers …

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Patterns among the most profitable movies budgeted $20m to $50m

Last year, I conducted a series of research projects with Bruce Nash of The Numbers, on behalf of the American Film Market.  Our findings were received well and so in the true spirit of the film industry, the AFM have commissioned some sequels and spin-offs! 

In one of the articles, we took a look at what it takes for a low-budget film to become a breakout hit, and discovered that the most successful movies came from a small number of specific genres. Twelve months on, we thought it would be interesting to take a look at films at the top end of the “independent” budget range and see if these hits also share some of the same DNA.

To do this, we compiled …

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The UK’s secret 20% tax relief for short films

Short films have long been a vital part of the journey of new filmmakers, allowing them to learn new skills, meet like-minded collaborators and showcase their talent.  

Most people’s first few shorts have a budget of almost (or exactly) nothing, with the filmmakers relying on the help of friends and family.  However, as their ambition grows, so too must their budget. The cost of a short film can vary wildly, but over half of the short films submitted to the Raindance Film Festival cost more than £3,000.

Short filmmakers do all sorts of things to raise money for their short films, including crowdfunding, applying to schemes, begging family and spending their own savings.  So it may come as a surprise …

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What percentage of box office income goes to local films?

A few weeks ago, I looked at how much of Hollywood’s box office cinema is earned outside North America. The figure for 2016 was 63%, meaning that just 37% of the box office gross for Hollywood movies was from US and Canadian cinemas.   This prompted a few people to get in contact to ask how this compares to the film industries of other countries. 

I’m going to focus on European countries as these are the ones for which I have the most complete and equivalent data.  

Local films in the top 10 European film markets

Let’s start by looking at the top ten film markets in Europe.  France is both the largest market (213 million admissions last year) and also had the highest …

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