Current Movie Industry Charts

The following are the key distribution and box office patterns for all wide release films — franchises and non-franchises.  Our custom research is informed by this essential data.  The charts below are updated in real time as new movies open.  Rollover each bar for precise figures:

01. Number of Franchise & Non–Franchise Wide Releases, 1997-present

Number of Releases:  The industry releases approximately 140 wide movie releases per year, approximately 60 franchise films and 80 non-franchise films.  As a percent, it’s 43% franchise films a year and 57% non-franchise films.  That’s where we are now.  Approximately twice as many franchise films as 20 years ago.  (Rollover each bar above for precise numbers.)

 

At this time it appears the total number of franchise wide releases will increase slightly in 2019, although this can change with shifts in production schedules and distribution strategies.

02. Box Office for Franchise & Non-Franchise Wide Releases, 1997-2017

Box Office:  In 2017, 58 franchise films earned approximately $22.9 billion at the worldwide B.O., about four times as much as the 82 non-franchise films.  In other words, the 43% franchise wide-releases earned 79% of American wide-release worldwide B.O., while the 57% non-franchise films earned $6.2 billion, or 21%.  Think about that for a second.  (2018 figures will be available after 2018 releases finish playing out in several months.)

 

There was enormous growth in international B.O. for franchise films from 2008 to 2012, in part because of the mix of films and in part because of the growth of the international markets, especially China.

 

Non-Franchise Films:  The spread between franchise and non-franchise worldwide B.O. jumped in 2012 and it increased again in 2017.  This is a concern.  The last 18 months have seen fewer strong, single-episode, non-franchise titles such as American Sniper ($350M, 2014), Inception ($293M, 2010), Gravity ($274M, 2013), The Martian ($228M, 2015), Tangled ($201M, 2010), Interstellar ($188M, 2014) and The Revenant ($183M, 2015).

 

Among dramas, only Bohemian Rhapsody and Dunkirk have earned more than $180 million at the domestic box office, and among among comedies, only Girls Trip has earned more than $100 million.  The movie business needs these non-franchise successes in all genres to appeal to all types of audiences, all over the world.  Where will they come from in 2019?

03. Number of New Franchise Launches & Box Office, 1997-2017

New Franchises:  There were 16 new franchises in 2018, the same as in 2017, both multi-year lows for new franchises.

 

New franchises opened 13% higher in 2018 than in 2017 when you include Black Panther;  however, without Black Panther, new franchise openings were 12% lower than in 2017.

 

Franchise creation is the lifeblood of the commercial movie business.  In 2019, the number of new franchises will increase substantially, while the total number of all franchises increases slightly.  Worth keeping an eye on for the medium- and long-term health of the business.

04. Franchise Age -- # of Sequels, Prequels/Origins, Spin-offs & Remakes, and Average Episode #, 1997-Present

Franchise Age — Sequels, Prequels/Origins, Spin-offs, Remakes, and Episode Numbers:  Over time the number of sequels, prequels/origins, spin-offs, and remakes has increased to over 40 (triple the number of 20 years ago), and the average episode number for franchises has settled at around three.  In other words, more franchises are deeper into their life-cycle — they’re older.

 

This is another reason why new franchise creation is so important (chart 03).  Most franchises slow down or wear out.  This chart bears watching to see if the number of sequels and the average episode number continue to increase into 2019 and beyond, indicating aging franchises.

05. Average Final Box Office Multiple for Domestic Opening Weekends, 1997-2018

Multiples:  Franchise movies have been playing off at around a 3x multiple of opening weekend for the last 10 years.  Non-franchise films’ multiple has been approximately 4x for the last couple of years, with a spike in 2014.

06. Average Box Office by Franchise Episode, 2015-2017

Box Office by Episode:  On average, franchises earn similar and stable domestic box office during the first four episodes, with international taking off in episode #5 — franchises that make it to episode #5 and beyond are strong by nature, especially internationally (Star Wars, Batman, Fast & Furious, Spider-Man, Bond, Harry Potter, Star Trek).  Again, there is enormous variation by genre and franchise.

07. Average Annual Rotten Tomatoes Score for Wide Releases (1,000+ Screens), 1997 to Present

The average Tomatometer score is rising:

 

  • Between 1997 and 2010 wide release movies averaged a  44.6% Tomatometer score;
  • From 2011 to present the average picked up to 52.3%;
  • And in 2018 wide releases scored 57.3%.

Rotten Tomatoes’ scores started rising in 2011 and they continued to improve in 2018.  Have movies improved critically?  Probably not.  Did Rotten Tomatoes adjust its algorithm?  Don’t know for sure.  Warner Bros. bought Rotten Tomatoes/Flixster in 2011, and NBCUniversal/Fandango bought a majority stake in 2016.

 

This is a positive trend — there’s no reason the movie review cup should be less than half-full.  However, if you were involved with a pre-2011 movie which carries an unduly negative review score for the rest of its life throughout the internet, you’re out of luck.