How many films are made around the world?

How many films are made around the worldA few months ago I noted a steep drop in UK feature film production (mostly in the lowest budget range).  Since then, the topic of feature film production has come up often in conversations I have with industry professionals.  Many ask for context – Is the UK’s 2014 figure of 241 feature films a lot? Have other countries seen a similar fall?

And so I thought I would show how many films are made worldwide, to put the UK numbers into perspective.  In summary…

  • India is the largest film producing nation
  • Followed by Nigeria and America
  • South Korea has increased film production by 81% in the past six years.
  • The UK saw an 18% reduction between 2007 and 2014

Who’s producing the largest number of films?

Reliable data is hard to find for many countries so it’s not possible for me to provide as up-to-date information as I’d like.  According to 2011 figures, India’s “Bollywood” is the largest film producing nation, responsible for a whopping 1,255 films.  Nigeria’s “Nollywood” is close behind with 997 films, followed by America’s “Hollywood” with 818 films.

top film producing nations

Edit: It’s worth noting Nadia Denton‘s comment at the bottom of this article.  She is the author of the The Nigerian Filmmaker’s Guide to Success and doesn’t feel that the often reported numbers about Nollywood are the true picture. She says “When UNESCO wrote their report a few years back and quoted the industry as being one of the largest in the world, it’s clear that the people who did the write up did not make a distinction between DVD producing and theatrical releases”.

How is this changing?

Sadly I can’t find reliable figures for each of the top producing countries but we are able to track the change in production for many of the top countries.

feature film produced in leading film markets

This shows that South Korea has seen the largest growth, increasing producing by 81% in the past six years.  All countries within this list are increasing production, apart from the UK, which saw an 18% reduction between 2007 and 2014.  (See my previous articles on the fall in UK film production and the comments of the UK film industry to read more on this).

Change in the number of films made

Does it matter how many films are made?

Yes and no.  Obviously the raw number of films being made each year is not in-and-of-itself useful, but they can give us clues to how the film sector is faring in each country.  The overall picture of growth is down to cheaper technology and free access to information means that it’s never been easier to make a feature film.  But with a one-film-one-vote system, we don’t get a window into other factors such as employment, the quality of the films or the total amount of money spent.

Notes on the data

Comparing data across multiple countries is always tricky and therefore there are a number of notes to keep in mind with today’s data…

  • Some of the 2014 figures are estimates
  • Figures for India contain only films that have been certified
  • Figures for the United States do not include feature documentaries or student films
  • Figures for China do not include films produced outside the GAPPRFT’s system of script and final print approval
  • Figures for Japan and Germany represent only feature films that have been released
  • Figures for the UK include inward feature co-productions but not inward features involving only VFX work in the UK

Epilogue

Film data geeks in the UK get a little spoilt as we have so many sources of information about the film industry in our country.  The BFI track and report on a huge number of metrics and the vast majority are freely available to everyone.  As we start to look at other countries we see how patchy, inconsistent and sometimes downright wrong their data sources are.