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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What kinds of films do well at the BAFTA awards?

Next Sunday sees the glitz and glamour of the 70th annual British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) film awards, so I thought it was timely to look at the kind of films that have previously succeeded at the awards, and how BAFTA compares to other awards and major film festivals.  

I looked at all films nominated for one of the three main categories – best film, best British film and best foreign language film over the past twenty years.

What kinds of films compete for BAFTA awards?

I have previously reported on British filmmakers’ penchant for making dramas, with around a fifth of all British films made between 2001-13 having drama as one of their principal genres.  Therefore perhaps it’s not a surprise …

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The state of the UK film industry

The newspapers last week featured headlines like “UK film production break[s] records” and “Star Wars punches London film industry past light speed“.  This led to a number of people contacting me to ask if the overall message was true – is the UK film industry really doing as well as is being claimed?  

Most of the messages came from independent British filmmakers who were either sceptical at the claim that all was rosy in UK film, or who thought that the numbers were being cooked to make things look better than they are. 

The first thing to note is that I don’t doubt for a moment that the data is correct.  The BFI does a terrific job at collecting the raw data, …

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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 film financing of a £660k feature film

Last year, I shared the full costs and income of a £850k feature film called Papadopoulos & Sons.  The article remains popular and has led to a number of people asking me to share similar details of other films.  It’s a tricky ask, as the film industry is normally a closed shop and withholds numbers even when there is no obvious reason to do so.  

However, every now and then I meet filmmakers who are committed to helping the film community by sharing their journey.  

Today’s article covers the film financing of a new feature called Alleycats. The film’s director Ian Bonhôte and its producer Andee Ryder have been kind enough to share with me how they raised two-thirds of a million pounds. …

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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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Studying race in the UK film industry

In the past, I have conducted quite a bit of research into gender inequality in the UK film industry. I often receive questions asking when I’m going to tackle race to the same degree I have researched gender.  

My answer has always been two-fold:  yes, I’d absolutely love to but sadly I don’t have a way to perform the classification. Race is a more complex issue than gender and is hard to measure from the outside.  And because of this, race has gone largely ignored while gender gets ever better analysis and research.

However, I think I have now found a reliable method and am ready to start addressing questions around race in UK film.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is that …

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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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