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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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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