How important is international box office to Hollywood?

Today I’m responding to an email I received from James, who asked how important international box office revenue is to Hollywood studios.  It’s a great question as it’s at the heart of one of the major trends affecting the film business in the 21st century. 

In film industry terminology, “domestic” box office revenue means the money collected in cinemas in the US and Canada, while money grossed in cinemas anywhere else in the world is classed as “international”. 

The growth of the international box office

I built a dataset of all movies released between 1990 and 2016 and looked at their domestic and international box office revenues.  Let’s start by focusing on how much of the money collected by movies from the big six studios came from …

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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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WGA Writers’ Strike 2017: The numbers behind the demands

You may have heard rumblings in the press about a possible upcoming writers’ strike in Hollywood, and a few readers have been in touch to ask about the debate.  

In today’s article, I will look at some of the key numbers that lie at the heart of the disagreement between the writers and the studios. 

I am going to avoid taking sides in this piece as my aim is to provide useful data for the debate, rather than to argue for one view or another. If I’ve missed anything, or if you want to add your thoughts on the topic, please do so in comments at the bottom of the page. Topics like this can arouse strong feelings on both sides, so I …

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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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When and how the film business went digital

Last week, I looked at six trends for how the film business is changing.  It got a great response and I was heartened to see such interesting, lively debate about it.  One of the topics raised by a few people was the move from analog to digital processes.  I didn’t include the move to digital as a trend because it’s not one single thing, with each corner of the industry transitioning at a different pace.

So this week I thought I would take you through a quick tour of when and how various aspects of the film industry moved to digital technology.  For some aspects, I have lots of data, while others are a little scant.  If you have knowledge or data on anything …

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Are movies based on true stories better than fictional stories?

Last week, I looked at movies based on true stories, following a question from Kathleen Drumm, TIFF Industry Director.  Kathleen also asked about the quality of these movies and posited that they are likely to be better than your average movie, due to the fact that they frequently make up a large number of Oscar nominations for ‘Best Picture’. 

To study this topic, I built a dataset of all movies which grossed at least $1 in US cinemas between 1996 and 2015 (inclusive) and then looked at each movie’s Metascore.  Metascore averages the ratings of major film critics to produce a score out of 100.  The Metascore will stand in as our measure of what film critics think of a movie and we’ll judge the …

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How many movies are based on real life events?

This year we have experienced a number of real life events which if you saw them in a movie, would test the limits of your credulity. So perhaps appropriately, I have received a couple of questions about the representation of real life events in movies. Kathleen Drumm, Industry Director for the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is running a session on 5th December entitled ‘Based on a True Story‘ and she emailed to ask about the current state of movies based on real life events.

I’m going to tackle this in two parts.  Today, I am going to look at the number of movies made based on real life events and then next week we’ll look at the quality and success of such movies.

Real …
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How does the average age of actors differ between genres?

Age is a touchy subject for many actors, and last September actors in California have won the right to have their date of birth removed from IMDb. IMDb claims that a date of birth is just a piece of biographical data (therefore fair game for publication) whereas the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) claim that it can be used against an actor – it’s not their true age that should matter but their ‘playing age’.  

In the past I have studied how Hollywood treats cast and crew of different ages.  I started by looking at how much older male romantic comedy actors are compared with their female co-stars (answer: 4.5 years older) and whether male action stars are getting older (answer: yes they …

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How many movies credits go uncredited?

Today’s article was inspired by a question from Pliny, founder of movie titling software Endcrawl.  We got chatting on Twitter and the topic of end credits came up.  

He mentioned that a couple of years ago they had worked on the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz and noticed that a large number of the cast and crew were missing from the end credits. According to IMDb, of the 391 people who worked on the film, only 50 received an on-screen credit.  

I agreed to take a look at the topic and Pliny agreed to write an article for the Endcrawl blog (it’s live and called ‘How to get the on-screen credits you deserve‘).  He also gave me some anonymised data …

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The ascension of Christian films

In Cannes this year I noticed a stark increase in faith-based content being offered in the film market.  It’s a strange sight to see stands offering wholesome Christian films about clean living next to stands offering horror films with all manner of sadism and perversion (I’m not being rude about the horror films – that’s quite literally how they sell themselves!)

So I decided to take a look at how the faith-based market is performing: specifically the recent rise in Christian narrative feature films coming out of the bible belt of America.  I’m sure this is a topic I will return to in the future as it’s fascinating to see such a quick growth in a new market but, for now, let’s …

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