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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How many Cannes-nominated films get a theatrical release?

The Cannes Film Festival kicks off next week, and at the centre of all the glitz and glamour is competition for the film world’s greatest artistic prize – the Palme d’Or.  This year, nineteen films are in the running including work by Michael Haneke, Sofia Coppola, Todd Haynes and Michel Hazanavicius.  The films will be screened over the festival’s eleven days, following which a jury of luminaries, headed by Pedro Almodóvar, will decide which film is worthy of walking away with the Palme d’Or.  

But once the festival is over, what happens to the Cannes-nominated films?  In Cannes gone by, I have met filmmakers whose work was being admired in the festival and who excitedly talked about the “inevitable” and “huge” theatrical release awaiting …

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How much does it cost to exhibit at the Cannes Marché?

In just over two weeks, the Cannes Film Festival and Marché will open its doors, commencing twelve days of drinks, deals, dailies and daring new cinema (plus a fair amount of double-dealing, dehydration and depression). It’s the biggest date in the film industry’s annual calendar, both for celebrating the best new movies (via the festival) and negotiating distribution for movies of all levels of quality (in the film market).  

I have covered Cannes for a few years now, so there are a number of older articles which you may find interesting or useful.

  • Attending Cannes
    • Cannes film festival mysteries explained (via Nicolas Cage)
    • Ultimate tips for attending the Cannes Film Festival
    • Will it rain at the Cannes Film Festival?
    • What types of films win the Palme d’Or at Cannes?
    • How …
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The numbers behind Netflix Original movies and TV shows

In last week’s article, I looked at the claim that mid-budget dramas are not being made anymore.  Although the conclusion was that this is a myth, there was strong evidence to show that they are being squeezed, resulting in ever-decreasing budgets.  

One reason often given for the tougher market for traditional movies is the rise of Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD) platforms and the content they commission. 

The largest and most successful SVOD service is Netflix so I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the types of content they are commissioning, under their ‘Netflix Original’ banner.  Let’s look at the movies first.

Netflix Original movies

At the time of writing, there are 60 Netflix Original movies available to watch. 

Quality of Netflix Original movies

In …

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How important is the UK theatrical market to British films?

Last month, I gave my annual lecture at the National Film and Television School (NFTS), looking at the business side of the UK film industry. It’s an enjoyable lecture to give, in part because the audience is made up from across all the disciplines (so animators, cinematographers, directors, producers, production managers, etc).  This mix often results in a wide variety of questions and this time there was a question I promised to explore further in a blog article.  

The query was sparked by a section of my talk which showed that the majority of the box office income collected by most British films is collected in the UK.  This surprised some attendees as the film industry is normally viewed by professionals as …

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In-flight movies: What Air Canada and Virgin Atlantic show

An often-forgotten window of release is the ‘Airline’ slot, where movies play on in-flight entertainment systems soon after their initial theatrical release.  

This is an area I’ve long wanted to study, but finding the raw data has proven tricky.  However, over the past few months, I have been doing my best to collect copies of in-flight movie guides (physical and digital) and I think I now have a large enough collection for two airlines (Air Canada and Virgin Atlantic) to be able to share the findings.

I should note that this is not designed as a heads-up battle between these airlines.  I would like to have included other carriers but these are the only two for which I have a complete …

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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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How is a cinema’s box office income distributed?

Today, I’m going to tackle a couple of related topics which seem to come up frequently in reader questions and comments – how is a cinema’s box office income distributed, and how much of it ends up with the filmmakers?

On the face of it, the first question seems simple: how is box office ticket income divided?  However, it has proved an ongoing controversy, with some filmmakers claiming that cinemas keep most of it and some cinema staff claiming that they hand almost all of it over to filmmakers.  I have heard people on both sides wax lyrical about how they have the raw end of the deal.  In order to answer the question, I have been speaking to a number of people …

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The social class of cinema audiences

In a passing comment in last week’s article on the effect of age on cinema-going, I mentioned that the same exit polls measured the social class of cinema audiences.  I asked readers to get in touch if you wanted me to share the data and a number of you did.  I don’t have a great deal of information on the topic, but what I do have is below.

The original exit poll data comes via cinema advertisers Pearl and Dean’s microsite which I matched up with UK box office figures and split by genre. In total, I was able to look at 662 movies released in UK cinemas between 2005 and 2016.   

The social class of cinema audiences

The polls use the class classification system developed by the …

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What films are older cinemagoers watching?

Following the trends article at the start of the year, I have been receiving requests for more details on some of the topics I covered.  One of the six trends I noted was the ageing cinema audience, which led to a number of people asking what types of movies older audiences turn out for. 

So today I’m going to show which movies are favoured by older audiences, who’s in them and the journey we take in our film choices as we age. 

Pop quiz, hot shot

Before I dig into the detail, I wanted to set you a little challenge.  Each year, the BFI’s Statistical Yearbook reports which movies had a significantly above-average attendance by different types of people.

Your task is to match up each of the six …

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