Who dominates the screenwriting software market?

Screenwriting was one of the first sectors of the film industry to embrace digital technology.

Way back in the early 1990s, software packages were being launched which empowered screenwriters to craft their work safe in the knowledge that they could maintain multiple versions, back up important scripts and meet the industry’s tough formatting guidelines.

Cut to thirty years later and now there are dozens of packages available, many offering extra features to help writers with brainstorming, planning and reporting on all aspects of the script.

I thought it would be interesting to take a quick look at the biggest packages on the market and see how they stack up against each other.

I’m going to measure three things:

  • Awareness – Market penetration among screenwriters
  • Activity – Percentage of …
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    Defining the average screenplay, via data on 12,000+ scripts

    Last week, I published my analysis of 12,309 feature film screenplays and the scores they each received from professional script readers.

    A byproduct of that research was that I had a large number of data points on a whole bunch of screenplays.  This allowed me to look at what the average screenplay contains.

    Hopefully, this research will prove useful to writers, producers and directors looking to understand what a typical screenplay looks like and a benchmark against which they can assess their own work.

    All of these scripts were reviewed by professional script readers, either as a part of a screenplay competition or to create a script report.  The vast majority of these scripts will not have been produced into movies yet and a …

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    An analysis of 12,309 feature film script reports

    Script readers are powerful gatekeepers. They read and rate scripts on behalf of producers, studios and competitions, meaning that what they think of a script is critical.

    Scoring well with readers could lead to your screenplay reaching the desks of the great and the good (who are hopefully also the rich and the powerful). Scoring poorly could mean that all the countless hours you put into your screenplay will just have been “character building”.

    Script readers’ work is conducted in private and their feedback is rarely shared, even with the screenwriters they are rating.  This means there is very little empirical research into what readers think a good script looks like.

    Given the critical role they play in filtering scripts, this lack of data …

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    Are romantic comedies dying?

    Today’s article is in response to a question from Jack Malvern at The Times.  He got in touch to ask if fewer romantic comedies were being made.

    There has been press speculation that the “rom-com” genre is moving away from the big screen and onto subscription VOD platforms such as Netflix.  So I agreed to take a look.

    For today’s research, I am referring to “rom-coms” as films with both the genres of “Romance” and “Comedy”.  There’s more on that classification in the Notes section at the end of the article.

    I built datasets of all movies made between 1980 and 2017 (190,544 movies), identified which had grossed at least $1 at the US box office (13,159 movies) and out of those I included any which …

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    Are movies with positive messages better than those without?

    When I’m thinking about what movies I enjoy, I rarely consider whether they have a positive message or contain positive role models.  But on a subconscious level, I’m sure these factors play a part in how much satisfaction I get from the flick.  For example, I enjoyed The Wolf of Wall Street but felt it was held back by the fact that its characters learnt nothing and were triumphant in their duplicity, selfishness and douchebaggery.

    To investigate this topic, I used data from an American nonprofit pressure group called Common Sense Media. They describe themselves as “the largest, most trusted library of independent age-based and educational ratings and reviews for movies, games, apps, TV shows, websites, books, and music“.  Their reviewers watch each movie, provide …

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    Major new study into gender inequality among UK film and TV writers

    Almost exactly two years ago, Alexis Kreager and I published a big report into the gender inequality faced by film directors working in the UK film industry.

    Soon after it was published, we were approached by the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain (WGGB) about studying the plight of screenwriters, both in the film and television industries.  This led to the WGGB (along with the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society – ALCS) supporting us in carrying out a deep data dive into the experiences of UK writers.

    The full 177-page report can be downloaded here, and I have written a brief summary in the article below.

    Download the full report

    You can read more about the Writers’ Guild and ALCS’ campaign connected to the report at writersguild.org.uk/equalitywrites

    The report covers both …

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    Who are the most prolific people working in Hollywood?

    Last week, I looked at how the composition of crews on Hollywood movies has changed over the years.

    This piece led a few people to ask questions on related topics, one of which I will address today.  John asked:”From your datasets can you see which people have worked the most often?”

    To answer the question, I looked at all credits received on the 200 highest-grossing movies at the US box office between 1997 and 2016 (i.e. 4,000 movies).  I then created league tables of the most frequently-credited people in a number of major roles.

    Today’s research is only looking at movies, so work on other media is not being counted (i.e. TV shows).

    Most prolific directors in Hollywood

    Let’s start with the highest profile creative role on a …

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    How has the average Hollywood movie crew changed?

    In the past, I’ve looked at how big a movie crew can get, for both UK films and Hollywood movies. But I was recently asked by a reader how the composition of such crews has changed over time. Which departments are getting larger? Which jobs are on the rise and which are waning?

    To answer this, I looked at the credits of the top 200 US-grossing movies of each of the past 20 years (1997-2016), giving me a dataset of 4,000 movies.

    The big picture

    In the past two decades, the number of crew members on a top-grossing movie has grown by 77%, from 350 in 1997 to 620 in 2016. If we group those crew credits into stages of production, we …

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    48 trends reshaping the film industry: Part 2 – Production

    This is the second instalment of a four-part series chronicling 48 different trends and changes in the film industry.

    Last week I gave you trends 1 to 12, in the fields of development and finance and in future weeks I will cover distribution, sales, exhibition and structural changes in how the film industry operates.

    This week’s twelve trends focus on the production sector, including details of changes to cast and crew.

    13. Movie production worldwide is booming

    In the ten years between 2000 and 2010, worldwide movie production doubled and has continued to rise since then.  This boom is largely down to cheaper and easier to use technologies for shooting, finishing and distributing movies.  In addition, the internet (especially YouTube) has democratised access to the knowledge needed to …

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    WGA Writers’ Strike 2017: The numbers behind the demands

    You may have heard rumblings in the press about a possible upcoming writers’ strike in Hollywood, and a few readers have been in touch to ask about the debate.

    In today’s article, I will look at some of the key numbers that lie at the heart of the disagreement between the writers and the studios.

    I am going to avoid taking sides in this piece as my aim is to provide useful data for the debate, rather than to argue for one view or another. If I’ve missed anything, or if you want to add your thoughts on the topic, please do so in comments at the bottom of the page. Topics like this can arouse strong feelings on both sides, so I would …

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