Do you need a famous actor to get your film into cinemas?

A common belief among sales and distribution professionals is that “names sell”.  As in, films starring famous actors (“names”) are more marketable than films without any famous names. But how true is this?

Bruce Nash and I teamed up to find out in the latest of our research projects for the American Film Market.

Studying all US-produced movies shot in 2017 we looked to see if having a well-known actor in a leading role helped get a film into cinemas. We focused on films made in 2017 to ensure that they have had time to either find a theatrical release or not. For example, a few of the films shot in 2017 have only recently been released, up to two and a …

Read full article

Are movies getting longer?

It: Chapter Two is an unusual horror film because it’s almost three hours long.  This means it is longer than 99.78% of all horror films made over the past twenty years.

Earlier in the year Avengers: Endgame was one minute over the three-hour barrier and Martine Scorsese’s up-coming epic The Irishman is expected to be three and a half hours long (longer even than the Godfather: Part Two).

Is this reflecting a wider trend or are these films just a few headline-grabbing examples?

I thought I would investigate.

We’ll start will all movies made around the world over the past twenty years, and then zero in on the trends under the surface.

The average running time of all movies produced worldwide

Average running times fell during …

Read full article

Are we experiencing a renaissance of music-based movies?

Over the past few weeks and months, we have seen an increase in press articles covering music–based feature films.

Only last week, The Guardian stated, “We are in an uncommonly busy period, if not a flat-out golden age“, the BBC declared that “2019 has been the year of the music film” and The Independent claimed that “we may be in for a new musical renaissance“.  (The Indie gets points for at least being cautious in their language when declaring the new dawn of dance).

This has led to a few readers contacting me to ask if this is true.

Are we in a boom of music-based movies, or are over-enthusiastic journalists turning a couple of movies into a trend?

Let’s zoom out and look …

Read full article

Is a movie’s box office gross connected to its budget?

In the last couple of weeks, I have looked at a number of topics around movie budgets.

To complete this trilogy, I am turning to the connection between a movie’s budget and the amount of money it collects at the box office.  Specifically, I’ll be looking at the “Domestic” gross, i.e. all the money spent on movie tickets in US and Canadian cinemas.

I’ll be using my dataset of 5,713 feature films released domestically for which I could find a public budget figure.  See the Notes section for details and caveats of budget information. To measure the extent to which the budget and box office gross are correlated, I’ll be using the Pearson correlation coefficient.

A coefficient of minus one means they’re perfectly negatively …

Read full article

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

Is a delayed release a sign that a movie will be bad?

X-Men: Dark Phoenix opened in cinemas a few weeks ago – a release date which is significantly later than first intended.

The film’s director, Simon Kinberg, blamed the delayed release on a few factors, including the complexity of the film’s visual effects.  Said Kinberg:

When we felt like we weren’t going to be able to complete the movie to the level we wanted to complete it from a visual effects standpoint, we considered moving it from November [2018] to February [2019]. Then, because of the way the international calendar was for us and how fast we could get materials to other territories, we felt like February became not just challenging, but not necessarily the best window internationally for the film.

Dark Phoenix started shooting …

Read full article

How far in advance are movie release dates announced?

Earlier this month, Disney published release dates for their upcoming slate of movies, including their newly expanded roster of titles acquired when they bought rival studio Fox.

This included a domestic theatrical release date (i.e. when the movie will open in American and Canadian cinemas) for Avatar 5 of 17th December 2027.

Yup, the date has been fixed a whopping 3,144 days ahead of the actual release.

In many cases, the release date is literally the only piece of information revealed about an upcoming movie – even before the movie’s title.  Disney’s future release schedule currently contains dates for 29 “untitled” films, including:

  • Twelve movies called “Untitled Disney Live Action”
  • Eight called “Untitled Marvel”
  • Four “Untitled Pixar” (although only two of them are described as animations)
  • Three …
Read full article

Are video game movies the worst type of adaptations?

The recent release of Pokémon Detective Pikachu has prompted some readers to get in touch and ask about the quality of movies based on video games.

Most of the questions were variations of: “Are video game movies the worst type of movie adaptations?

To answer this, I looked at all movies released in US cinemas between 1993 and 2018, inclusive. (See the Note section for a more detailed explanation of the dataset and sources).

I’m going to use the Metacritic score and IMDb rating to serve as measures of quality from the perspective of film critics and film audiences, respectively.

Let’s first acquaint ourselves with the genre.

A primer in video game movies

The first movie adapted from a video game was 1993’s Super Mario Bros and in …

Read full article

Which countries most commonly team up to create film co-productions?

In the past few months, I have received a growing number of questions relating to international collaboration on movies. Some relate to the individual level of cast and crew working across borders while others focus on films as commercial products manufactured in more than one country.

It’s hard to tell why the topic of international collaboration in the film industry is becoming more frequent in readers’ questions.  It could be Brexit specifically or a more general sense that as nationalism rises around the world, the need for partnership in the arts increases.

With no Brexit deal on the horizon, we are still unsure what Britain’s departure from the EU will mean for the British and European film industries.  Some aspects both have …

Read full article