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October 5, 2015

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, its 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.

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22 Responses

  1. Roy Stafford October 5, 2015 at 10:50 am #

    When I tried to do this exercise for The Global Film Book in 2013 I came across the same problems you faced and I agree with all the comments you make. One source you don’t mention is UNESCO which has been collecting and analysing data on global film production since 2007. You can find the latest 2013 figures via this link: http://data.uis.unesco.org/Index.aspx?queryid=116
    I don’t know what credence you might give to the UNESCO figures (the Indian total looks very high). I think the only slight adjustment I would suggest to your survey is to add the output of the other major Latin American producer, Mexico and to note the growth in production in South East Asia (Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand).

    • Stephen Follows October 5, 2015 at 10:57 am #

      Thanks for your thoughts. I looked at the UNESCO stats but I also felt that they weren’t quite measuring the same things. Frustrating, isn’t it!

      Good point about LA – I’ll see if I can cover that in the near future.

  2. Nadia Denton October 5, 2015 at 12:54 pm #

    t is a misnomer that Nigeria is the 2nd/3rd largest film producing as the figures quoted (for films made) are for films that go out on DVD – none of them ever reach the cinemas. Conversely, the US and India figures that you’ve mentioned are for films which go to the cinemas and have box office receipts. When UNESCO wrote their report a few years back and quoted the industry as being one of the largest in the world, its clear that the people who did the write up did not make a distinction between DVD producing and theatrical releases. As it stands Nigeria’s film industry is considered an informal economy because there are no readily available figures.

    Notably Nigeria has less than 20 cinemas in the southern part of the country.

  3. Monserrate Pagan Jr October 5, 2015 at 11:38 pm #

    After reading your findings and all your links, you failed to give a comprehensive statement how your figures and statement are relevant to the film industry. Sure its great information, and very informative but how will this effect or induce film companies or producers in the future. What if any impact can this have, either good or bad?

    How can we use this information to guide or benefit the industry. What other information can we join to this to help benefit the industry?
    Do producers or film companies even care?
    Does the smaller production houses have any kind of steak in this ?

    Don’t misunderstand me, the information is great but ho can we use it to benefit our industry ?

    • Stephen Follows October 6, 2015 at 7:53 am #

      Hi Monserrate

      You’re right – but that wasn’t my aim. As I mentioned at the top of the article, the objective was to show how many films are made in other nations in order to provide some numerical context for the UK figures. The topics you suggest would certainly be of value to the industry but they are much bigger and broader than I can do in a weekly blog reporting on film data.

      That said, often my articles spark conversation in these comments sections which can add to and expand the conversation. In many cases the smartest and most insightful things said about a topic come in this section.

      Stephen

  4. hi.there October 6, 2015 at 3:51 am #

    Is it fair to say canada could be included with america as one for film production since they share so much of the industry as well as box office receipts totals? ie.suicide squad, pixels, pacific rim, etc.

    • Robin Curtis December 27, 2016 at 4:19 pm #

      not as far as Canadians are concerned.
      The USA considers Canada part of the “domestic market”which galls Canadians adn the Canadian film industry.

  5. hi.there October 6, 2015 at 12:35 pm #

    ^^^^I believe your research and work is highly valuable. In stead of it necessarily being straight forward ‘1 + 1 = 2’ you’re showing the equation exist. The fact that you are are making certain information available that provides insight even at a minute level is value that should be appreciated and acknowledged. The reason i mentioned Canada and America in my above post as being considered as ‘one’ production entity was because of their frequent collaborations(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Runaway_production). It also since peeked my interest since i am Canada and was shocked at the low amount of productions coming out of my country given the publicity seen by tiff, etalk, entertainment tonight Candada and such regarding movie production in Canada.

  6. Luke DeBoer October 12, 2015 at 5:04 pm #

    Hey Stephen,
    This is SUPER valuable research you’ve put together and is really helpful! Thank you.
    One question: Is this based off the number of films MADE or the number of films RELEASED? I know within the US, a commonly sited stat for the number of feature films released nationally is around ~700. Probably largely because of the MPAA’s released statistics:
    http://www.mpaa.org/creating-jobs/

    But the number of feature films MADE every year is much greater than that, from my understanding. For instance, if you look at the number of feature films listed on IMDb for having been released in the US in 2013, it’s around 3,500.
    http://www.imdb.com/search/title?at=0&countries=us&title_type=feature&year=2014

    Any thoughts on this?
    Thanks,
    Luke

    • Stephen Follows October 12, 2015 at 5:14 pm #

      Hi Luke

      Glad it’s useful. The sad answer is that it differs per country. The data is the most standardised I could find, and much of it comes from the FOCUS Market Trends publication published by the Cannes Marche (the most “credible” source I found) but there are still differing counting methods per country. The UK has a very clear system of counting films made, but you’re right that the US numbers relate to films released, not made. There are caveats at the end of the article which speak to some of this.

      If this were 1990 then with enough man-hours we could reasonably expect to get fairly accurate data of films made but now the line between a true feature film and long short film / web series / etc has blurred to nothing, it’s impossible. Using data on released films is easier (they’re more visible and have passed an entry requirement) but then we’re not measuring the true health of the film production sector.

      It’s a tough topic and I doubt any one body/org has the full data.

  7. Haydee J December 2, 2015 at 4:07 am #

    Thanks for publishing this; it really helped me in an article I’m writing for the school newspaper. Cheers!

  8. Witold Samirov November 6, 2016 at 7:16 pm #

    Thanks for publishing this article,

    In this website, http://www.freeee.org/country.html?/usa/1, I could find the movies from around the Glob categorized by each country. Just don’t forget to press the “ Toggle Movie List ” button.

    Hope this would be helpful for somebody else.

  9. Jamie Hart February 14, 2017 at 1:41 pm #

    Thanks for this article! I’m using it as part of my university dissertation. I don’t suppose you have the sources for your figures available? Would really help me out a lot! Thanks!

  10. Venkatesh Narayan May 6, 2018 at 10:33 am #

    Hello Mr.Stephen,

    Thanks for publishing this article🙏

    Anyhow, i just wanna draw your attention towards INDIAN Cinema since you have just mentioned about Bollywood movies. Bollywood films are merely produced 350/400 movies annually, wherein Indian Regional Cinema produce more than 1000+ movies every year in over 10 languages. Hence, i request you kindly to use the term “Indian Cinema” instead of Bollywood.

    Warm Regards,

    Venkatesh Narayan

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