How has the cost of making a movie changed over the past twenty years?

According to news reports, Netflix boss Ted Sarandos has privately been telling producers that his company will be more cost-conscious going forward.

This comes on the heels of Netflix’s Triple Frontier (a movie which reportedly cost $115 million but which has gone down poorly with audiences and critics alike) and their up-coming blockbuster Red Notice (which is likely to cost upwards of $200 million, including unusually large pay-cheques for its stars, The Rock, Gal Gadot and Ryan Reynolds).

Netflix’s journey towards bigger and bigger budgets, only to then start lowering them again, is a story Hollywood knows well.  Over the past century, most of the major studios have had moments of budget inflation and belt-tightening.

Last week, I shared my research into how much the average …

Read full article

How much does the average movie cost to make?

Among the most frequent questions I’m asked by those new to the film industry is “How much does the average movie cost to make?”

The short answer is “it depends”.  It’s similar to asking “How much does the average meal cost to make?” It depends where you are, who’s making it, for whom and whether Robert Downey Jr. is involved (ok, so maybe this last one only applies to movies).

This would make for rather a short blog article, so instead I thought I’d take a deeper look at whether there are useful ballparks which can give a sense of scale on movie budgets.

I built up a dataset of 5,713 feature films released domestically (i.e. in US & Canadian cinemas) for which I …

Read full article

How do film budgets change as they grow?

One of the reasons it’s hard to make your first movie is that much of the information you need is not available. While we can all read granular box office figures online, it’s often hard to reliably discover how much a movie cost to make and it’s near impossible to know how they spent that money.

And so I’m pretty excited to share today’s research. It’s a collaboration with Wayne Marc Godfrey, film producer and financier of more than 125 independent feature films. Later this year, he’s launching a new receivables and collections platform for creators and distributors called purely.capital.  In the lead-up to purely.capital’s launch, we’re working together on a few articles to shine a light on the financial side of independent film.

First …

Read full article

What the data says about producing low-budget horror films

This is the fourth of four articles I co-authored with Bruce Nash on behalf of the American Film Market.

We have previously looked at drama, comedy and family films and today we turn to horror.

Specifically, horror movies budgeted between $500,000 and $5 million which were released domestically (i.e. in the US and Canada) between 2000 and 2016.

We have boiled down all our data, statistics and modelling to a number of quick takeaways on the horror genre. They are:

  • Horror movies are the most profitable genre
  • …but also the riskiest genre
  • Quality doesn’t matter all that much
  • Your release will either be very wide or very small
  • Horror audiences are more likely to be working class
  • Let’s dive in and look at each of these findings in detail…

    1. …
    Read full article

    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 …

    Read full article

    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 …

    Read full article

    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 …

    Read full article

    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 …

    Read full article

    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 …

    Read full article

    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 …

    Read full article