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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Six ways the film business is changing

The coming of a new year always makes me pause and take stock.  It’s a time when people traditionally ponder what they’re up to, where they’re going and what they want to do next.  So I have spent some time thinking about what’s happening in the film business and where we’re going.  I don’t like predictions (see the Epilogue for more about this) but there are a few trends which give us clues about the next few years in film.

Each of these trends really requires several charts and graphs, but just in case you had other plans for today I have limited myself to no more than one for each trend. I have added some links for further reading, for those of …

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The power shift in film exhibition: A case study of ourscreen

Film distribution and exhibition are going through a radical metamorphosis. For the first 100 years of film, the business model didn’t change much. In the first five or so decades, audiences had to see movies in cinemas, or never get a chance to see them again.  From around the 1950s, movies also appeared on television and in the 1980s the home video market emerged.  

These technologies provided new ways to watch movies but did not change the power dynamic between the industry and audiences. The public had to wait until the industry was ready to sell them access to the movie, and the industry set the terms.  

This meant huge delays between a movie appearing on home video or TV, and also it took a long …

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What are Video on Demand audiences watching?

Here is the fourth of four article I wrote for the American Film Market, with Bruce Nash from The Numbers.  Enjoy!

One of the major problems that producers and studios are struggling with is the lack of transparency in the new distribution landscape. It is currently quite difficult to see how a film has performed in Video on Demand (VOD) and there has been no significant analysis into what types of films are best suited to these new distribution streams.

Pulling together data from a number of sources (including VOD ranking data) we have been able to look at what VOD audiences want to watch and how this compares with other media. The nature of the data means we can’t provide the …

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The relative popularity of genres around the world

In the second of four articles we wrote for the American Film Market, Bruce Nash and I looked at the relative popularity of genres around the world.

We studied the territorial breakdown of theatrical box office grosses for 3,368 films covered by The Numbers’ international box office tracking. This covers most films released since the beginning of 2015, with some data going back to 2012. We developed a formula for assessing the relative strength or weakness of each genre within a territory when compared to that genre’s global performance (more details at the end of the article).

In the charts below, zero indicates the global average performance, so a positive score indicates that the genre in question performs disproportionality well in that territory.

Action

We …

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The numbers behind Metrodome Distribution

Last week, it was announced that UK distributor Metrodome has gone into administration.  It’s sad news for their staff, the filmmakers they worked with, the exhibitors they supplied and for all UK cinema goers who enjoyed films outside of the mainstream.

Since the news was announced, I have been contacted by a number of people who want to get a sense of the numbers behind Metrodome and their effect on the UK exhibition scene.

Metrodome’s balance sheet

For most of this article I’m going to focus on the films Metrodome released, but I thought I should start with a little financial information.  In the twelve years for which Metrodome Group Limited filed annual accounts (i.e. 2003 to 2014), the company had revenues of …

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What types of low-budget films make the most money?

This is the fourth article in my series looking at the financial side of the film business.  In previous articles, I’ve looked at $100m+ Hollywood blockbusters, $30m-$100m movies and profitability across all movies released between 1990 and 2015.  

This week I have teamed up with Bruce Nash from The Numbers for a research project originally commissioned by the American Film Market.  They asked us to look into what types of low-budget films “break out” (i.e. make far more profit than is typical for films of their scale) and if there were any lessons for independent low-budget film producers. 

What types of low-budget films make the most money?

To discover the commonalities amongst low-budget breakout hits, we began with a list of over 3,000 …

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Do Hollywood movies make a profit?

For the third part in my series on the financial side of the film industry, I am turning to profitability and asking “Do Hollywood movies make a profit?”

Hollywood has a negative reputation when it comes to transparency and financial openness. It feels as though each month brings yet another news story about a Hollywood flop losing millions or another lawsuit where people accuse studios of fiddling the figures to prevent having to pay out profit shares. 

So let’s take a detailed look at profitability among Hollywood movies.  I will be working with three datasets, each providing a unique perspective on the matter…

  • The ‘Insider’ dataset.  A collection of 279 films for which I have inside financial data, revealing the true costs and income for the life …
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