The fate of Stephen King movie sequels

I am putting the finishing touches on a big report into horror movies, due for release in the coming months.  One of the many things I looked at was horror adaptations and so I thought it would be fun to share a small part of what I found as it’s become rather topical.

A new adaptation of Stephen King’s It is currently doing great business in cinemas worldwide, leading Warner Brothers to start work on a sequel, entitled Chapter One.  Details are still few and far between, but as the current film only adapted half of the original novel, the plot and characters are already common knowledge.

Excitement for the sequel is high, but the history of Stephen King adaptations contains an ominous warning.  

Let’s …

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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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How many films are released each year?

In an unusual moment of synchronicity this week, three unconnected people have contacted me to ask how many films are released in cinemas each year.  Each had different reasons for asking but all were working from the same basic hypothesis – that the number is increasing.  

In the past, I have looked at the number of feature films made (both in the UK and worldwide) but today we’re going to focus on the number of feature films released in cinemas to the paying public. This doesn’t include film festivals, private screenings or other types of content in cinemas, such as broadcasts of opera of theatre productions.

The first thing to note is that there is no one simple answer.  Firstly, we need …

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Measuring actors’ brands via facial recognition

Last week I shared my research into movie posters, in which I used facial recognition to track the emotions displayed on the faces of the lead actors. Today I thought I would follow another thread made possible by this method and look at the brands of some major Hollywood actors.  

When deciding what movie to watch, we as audience members don’t actually have much information to go on.  I know it can sometimes feel as if the studios are bombarding us with loads of trailers, clips and adverts but take a step back and look at what information they’re actually conveying.  In most cases, all of the ‘stuff’ they’re throwing at us is on the same theme and aiming to convey one simple message, …

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Using facial recognition to track emotions on movie posters

A few days ago, Disney revealed that they have developed AI technology which can read the faces of audiences to track how they are experiencing a movie, second by second. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise; Hollywood has long relied on test audiences to shape their movies and most modern smartphones have cameras which can locate and track human faces.  

Despite this, the reality that this is in current usage has become a big talking point in the industry.  Views vary from joy at being able to finally get reliable audience data to fear of how much this may embolden already-meddlesome studios to override the wishes of artists and auteurs.

Regardless of where you stand on the issue, it’s certainly an …

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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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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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