Gender diversity among film professionals working in sales and distribution

Between filmmakers and film audiences lie a complex network of middlemen, distributors and sub-distributors.  They play a vital role in the film value chain, ensuring that films are available all over the world in all manner of formats to all types of audiences.

This side of the industry is less visible than most other aspects, for a number of reasons.  Firstly, they don’t interact directly with the public the way cinemas do.  Secondly, their work is not visually interesting.  Film fans enjoy behind-the-scenes footage from movie shoots but I doubt behind the scenes of a negotiating re-licensing deal would have the same appeal.  Finally, it’s a fairly small sector with a relatively low number of people working in it (certainly compared to …

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How long does the average Hollywood movie take to make?

Today’s topic is one I’ve had on my ‘to do’ list for a while and it took the help of four students to gather all the data.  We looked at the key dates behind Hollywood studio movies in order to work out roughly how long the average Hollywood movie takes to make.

We built a database of 782 live-action studio-produced feature films, all of which were released domestically between 2006 and 2016, inclusive.  We then scoured trades and traditional press outlets to find the earliest date for the following key milestones:

  • Announcement – The date when it’s publicly announced that the film will be made.  Often this is when the industry announces that the script has been optioned, but could also be when the mainstream press …
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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 …

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How much of UK distribution will the new Disney Fox company control?

Last week’s media news was dominated by the acquisition of 20th Century Fox by the Walt Disney Corporation.  There’s no doubt that this represents a huge shift in the dynamics of Hollywood as ‘The Big Six’ (studios) become ‘The Big Five’. How the two mega-companies will work together in practice won’t be known for a while but that hasn’t stopped people speculating about the effect it will have on the entertainment sector. As regular readers know, I’m not a fan of speculation, so I shall sit out this particular pontification party.  That said, I have been asked by a few readers for data on how much of a market share the newly enlarged Disney company will have within UK distribution.  So I …

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The handful of tropes used by most horror movie posters

How many times have you seen a new movie poster and thought ‘That looks just like the poster for [another movie]”?  I’m guessing… pretty often.

Movie poster designers don’t seem worried about their work feeling derivative and often they are actually counting on your sense of déjà vu to promote their new movie. So it’s not surprising that some movie posters end up looking similar to one another. Even with that in mind, I doubt most people are aware of just how little diversity there is within movies of the same genre.  Today, I’m going to share the patterns among horror movie posters.

This research was part of an eighteen-month project I conducted studying all aspects of horror movies. The final result is …

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Three major ways movie release patterns are changing

Every few weeks, there is a news story about a new challenge to the traditional distribution model for movies.  The latest of these was the announcement last week that the new Shaft reboot would be using the hybrid release strategy. In the US, it will follow the usual movie release pattern (i.e. theatrical release followed by delayed release onto other platforms), but in the rest of the world, it will premiere on Netflix just two weeks after the US theatrical release. 

By using this innovative approach, the filmmakers were able to get Netflix to pay for “more than half” of the movie’s reported $30 million budget.

This news led me to wonder how movie release patterns are changing.  For today’s research, I built up several …

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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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How far in advance are film trailers released?

Last week, I took a look at the length of film trailers.  I found that the average trailer runs for 114 seconds, and the longest trailers belong to documentaries and historical films. As I was conducting that research, another question occurred to me – how early are trailers released?  

I still remember as a teenager watching the super-early teaser trailer for what would become the 1998 version of Godzilla.  The teaser trailer had a production budget of $600k and featured no footage from the final movie, due to the fact that it was completed before the main movie had even been shot!  This is a rarity but teaser trailers still abound.

Using data from my previous trailer database and publically available …

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How long is the average movie trailer?

I’ll admit it – I’m not a fan of movie trailers.  It feels like their two purposes are to spoil the best bits of a movie and to frustrate the audience by pointing out how long we have to wait before we can see the whole movie.  Imagine if the free samples in a supermarket were followed by a two-month gap before the product was available for purchase. 

Nonetheless, they’re here to stay.  And despite their significance in the film industry, they’re a topic I am yet to cover on this blog.  

To cover up this glaring omission, I have conducted two research projects – the first is below, looking at the length of trailers, and next week I will address …

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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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