Current Movie Industry Charts

The key distribution and box office patterns for all wide releases (3,413 films)

— franchises and non-franchises — updated in real time as new movies open.

 

The best set of industry figures available anywhere:

01. Number of Franchise & Non–Franchise Wide Releases (1,000+ Theaters), 1997-present

Number of Releases:  Approximately 140 wide releases per year, just under three per weekend.  In 2019 it was 58 franchise films and 80 non-franchise films.  As a percent, it’s 42% franchise films a year and 58% non-franchise films.  That’s where we are now.  More than twice as many franchise films than 20 years ago.

 

The number of releases in 2020 will be sharply lower than in 2019 due to the pandemic.  You can see the drop in the far right bars above — Trailing 12 months.

02. Box Office for Franchise & Non-Franchise Wide Releases, 1997-2019

Box Office:  In 2019, 58 franchise films earned $23.0 billion at the worldwide B.O., five times as much as the 80 non-franchise films.  In other words, the 42% franchise releases earned 83% of Hollywood wide-release worldwide B.O., while the 58% non-franchise films earned $4.6 billion, or 17%.

 

Think about that for a second.

 

There was enormous growth in international B.O. for franchise films starting in 2009, in part because of the mix of films but also because of the growth of the international markets, especially China.  In 2018, international slowed a bit, but in 2019 it jumped again.

 

Non-Franchise Films:  The non-franchise worldwide total hit its lowest level ever in 2019 — $4.6 billion.  The spread between franchise and non-franchise worldwide B.O. jumped in 2012 and it increased again in 2015, 2016 and 2017.  The spread increased again in 2019.

 

Since late 2018 there have been fewer strong, single episode, non-franchise releases.  The biggest films — Once Upon a Time in… and 1917 — finished under $400m worldwide.  Compare that with Bohemian Rhapsody ($904m, 2018), Inside Out ($858m, 2015), Coco ($807m, 2017), Gravity ($723m, 2013), Interstellar ($678m, 2014), The Martian ($630m, 2015), Life of Pi ($609m, 2012), and American Sniper ($547m, 2014).

 

The movie business needs strong non-franchise films to stay fresh and expand audiences.   At the moment they are missing.

03. Number of New Franchise Launches & Box Office, 1997-2019

New Franchises:  There were 13 new franchises in 2019, the fewest number of new franchises since 2007, and they earned $3.4 billion, the second lowest figure since 2007.

 

Franchise creation is the lifeblood of the commercial movie business.  The number of new franchises in 2020 appears to be similar to 2019 at 12, although that can change with final release dates and box office performance.

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

Franchise Age — Sequels, Prequels, Spin-offs, Remakes, and Episode Numbers:  The number of sequels, prequels, spin-offs, and remakes is now over 40 per year, or nearly one per weekend.  This is triple the number of 20 years ago, and 50% more than seven years ago — a dramatic increase.

 

And the average episode number for these films is now over 3.  In other words, more sequels, prequels, spin-offs and remakes than ever, and they are deeper into their life-cycle — they’re older.

 

There will be fewer sequels, prequels, spin-offs and remakes in 2020, again due to the pandemic (the far right bars above, Trailing 12 months).  In the long-term, most franchises eventually either wrap up, slow down or wear out — another reason why new franchise creation is so important (chart 03 above).

05. Average Box Office by Franchise Episode, 2015-2019

Box Office by Episode:  On average, franchise business holds up well in episodes #2 and #3 and grows stronger in episodes #4 and #5, especially internationally.  Franchises that make it to late episodes are stronger by nature, especially internationally (Star Wars, Batman, Fast & Furious, Spider-Man, Bond, Harry Potter, Star Trek).

 

There is enormous episode variation by genre and franchise — have to look at genre and franchise to get a clear handle on per-episode dynamics.

06. Average Annual Rotten Tomatoes Scores for Wide Releases (1,000+ Theaters), 1997 to Present

The average Tomatometer score is rising:

 

  • Between 1997 and 2010 wide release movies averaged a  44.7% Tomatometer score;
  • From 2011 to 2018 the average picked up to 52.2%;
  • And in 2019 wide releases scored 60.2%.

The Rise:  Rotten Tomatoes recently reached an important threshold: For the year 2019, the average RT score for wide releases hit 60.   60 is an important number because movies with a 60 or better receive a shiny red tomato with their score, while movies below 60 get an ugly green splat.   A picture is worth a 1,000 words and those shiny tomatoes and green splats are important — they’re everywhere.   2019 finished with an average score of 60.2.

 

The Timing:  Rotten Tomatoes’ scores jumped in 2011 when Warner Bros. bought the site as part of Flixster, and they jumped again in 2017 after NBC/Universal bought a majority stake.   Have movies improved critically?   No, they’re the same, but if 60 is the line between shiny red and ugly green, then 60 is where the average belongs.   RT hurt a lot of movies prior to 2011 with average scores in the 40s.   Those scores are still with those movies.  This is an improvement.

 

The Flaw:  There is a flaw that continues to plague Rotten Tomatoes.  Are reviews with a 60 score good, and reviews with a 59 score bad?  Of course not, there’s everything in between.  This hurts middle-score movies, which are stuck with their green splat when they appear on leading news, ticketing, streaming, and cable websites — forever.  Rotten Tomatoes should add a third icon indicating mixed reviews between 40 and 60.