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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Is Seed & Spark’s high crowdfunding success rate for real?

In our industry, it’s not uncommon to hear people making bold claims.  They declare that their film is going to make a fortune, that they will soon collect an Oscar and that their new start-up is better than anything else on the market.  

Normally I just ignore this hyperbole, but once in a while, I ask for proof.  Few people reply and even fewer can back up their claims.  Today’s article is about one company that can and did defend their bold claim.

Seed & Spark is a crowdfunding platform aimed at the film industry which claims to have “the highest success rate in the crowdfunding business”.  As regular readers will know, I have studied the world of film crowdfunding for a while, …

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Has the mid-budget drama disappeared?

In a recent interview with the Metro newspaper, Matt Damon discussed the changing nature of Hollywood budgets and specifically the decline of mid-budget dramas.  Or as the Metro headline put it “Jason Bourne star Matt Damon explains why you’re seeing less indie movies in cinemas“.  

Let’s ignore the journalist’s poor grammar and focus on the point Mr Damon was making.  His assertion was:

The $15 to $60 million drama, is gone. They just don’t make that movie any more.

 It’s an interesting claim, so I thought I’d look into the topic.

Have all mid-budget drama movies gone?

Let’s start by looking at the data.  I built a dataset of all movies which grossed at least one dollar in US cinemas over the past twenty years (1997 to …

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The cost of movie Prints and Advertising

Last week’s piece on the division of box office cinema has sparked a number of follow-up questions.  I will try to tackle the key questions in the coming weeks.  

First up – a number of filmmakers made the claim that distributors inflate the true cost of distributing a movie, in order to keep more of the income.   

It’s worth starting with a general note that I see no evidence of wide-spread false accounting. That’s not to say that there aren’t any instances of false cost inflation, but that the heart of this claim is a scepticism that it isn’t as expensive to put a movie into cinemas as distributors claim.  So today I will quickly run through the types of costs involved in …

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The film financing of a £660k feature film

Last year, I shared the full costs and income of a £850k feature film called Papadopoulos & Sons.  The article remains popular and has led to a number of people asking me to share similar details of other films.  It’s a tricky ask, as the film industry is normally a closed shop and withholds numbers even when there is no obvious reason to do so.  

However, every now and then I meet filmmakers who are committed to helping the film community by sharing their journey.  

Today’s article covers the film financing of a new feature called Alleycats. The film’s director Ian Bonhôte and its producer Andee Ryder have been kind enough to share with me how they raised two-thirds of a million pounds. …

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