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 …

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How does VidAngel filter objectionable content from movies?

Today I am sharing research I have conducted on VidAngel – a service which offers censored versions of Hollywood movies.

You may have heard about VidAngel last month as they hit the headlines due to a ruling in a court case against major Hollywood studios, including Disney.

The news spurred me on to take a close look at what they do, how they do it and what exactly they are filtering out of Disney movies.  I built up a dataset of all filters they have for feature films on their site – over half a million objectionable items across 2,974 feature films.

VidAngel in a nutshell

VidAngel is a Utah-based company which seeks to help audiences filter out objectionable material from mainstream movies. They have …

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How are movie advertising budgets spent?

The marketing of movies is a fascinating topic. There is an inherent contradiction, because it is both very visible and highly opaque at the same time.

We see movie marketing every day on almost all possible platforms and yet filmmakers struggle to learn about the economics of how it works.

To help with this, I am going to take a look at how money is spent to market movies in the UK. This article is based on professional industry estimates of marketing spend for 1,288 movies released over the past decade (more info in the Notes section at the end).

How are movies promoted?

According to Nielsen Media Research, £229.5 million was spent advertising movies to the British public in 2017.

The spend is broken …

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How big is the UK ‘event cinema’ market?

A frequently discussed shift in the film business over the past decade has been in the home entertainment sector, thanks to piracy and VOD.

However, there has been another big shift which is sometimes overlooked.  This one takes place in the exhibition sector, where we’ve seen a new type of movie-going experience emerge: event cinema.

Event cinema performances are a hybrid of traditional cinema (projected moving images on a cinema screen) and other elements (such as theatrics, live interaction or watching live events beamed from another part of the world).

It’s been a few years since I last covered this emerging sector, so I thought I’d return to see what’s changed.

Event cinema’s rise

It’s easy to see the appeal of event cinema, both to …

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What percentage of movies are available to stream, rent or buy online?

Screenwriter and writing community hero John August posed a question on Twitter a couple of days ago.  He was surprised to find that some major movies are not available to stream or buy in the US, despite their clear value and audience interest.

He asked people to add any other movies they find which fit his criteria (i.e. top 100 mainstream, English-language movies) and which are not currently available to stream, rent or buy digitally in the US.

This sounded like a fun challenge, so I took it on.  I expanded the criteria slightly to look at the 200 top grossing movies of the past two decades, 4,000 movies in total.

I’m also going to subdivide the ‘top films’ of each year into three cohorts:

  • Highest Grossing, measured via the US box …
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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 took a quick look …

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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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