Current Movie Industry Charts
The key distribution and box office patterns for all wide releases — franchises and non-franchises — updated in real time as new movies open. The best set of industry figures available anywhere. Rollover each bar for precise numbers:
01. Number of Franchise & Non–Franchise Wide Releases (1,000+ Theaters), 1997-present
Number of Releases: Approximately 150 wide movie releases per year, three per weekend, 60 franchise films and 90 non-franchise films. As a percent, it’s 40% franchise films a year and 60% non-franchise films. That’s where we are now. Twice as many franchise films as 20 years ago. (Rollover each bar for precise figurers.)
The number of franchise releases will remain about the same in 2019, although this can change with shifts in distribution schedules.
02. Box Office for Franchise & Non-Franchise Wide Releases, 1997-2018
Box Office: In 2018, 61 franchise films earned approximately $22.3 billion at the worldwide B.O., about four times as much as the 93 non-franchise films. In other words, the 40% franchise wide-releases earned 79% of Hollywood wide-release worldwide B.O., while the 60% non-franchise films earned $6.1 billion, or 21%.
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 down a bit for the first time in five years.
Non-Franchise Films: The spread between franchise and non-franchise worldwide B.O. jumped in 2012 and it increased again in 2015, 2016 and 2017.
Since the beginning of 2017 there have been fewer strong, single episode, non-franchise releases. Among dramas, only Bohemian Rhapsody and Dunkirk have earned more than $180 million at the domestic box office. Compare that with American Sniper ($350M, 2014), Inception ($293M, 2010), Gravity ($274M, 2013), The Martian ($228M, 2015), Interstellar ($188M, 2014) and The Revenant ($183M, 2015).
Among comedies, only The Upside and Girls Trip have earned more than $100 million, compared with Bridesmaids ($169M, 2011), The Heat ($160M, 2013), Identity Thief ($134M, 2013), Silver Linings Playbook ($132M, 2013), and Central Intelligence ($127M, 2016).
The movie business needs these non-franchise films to stay fresh and expand audiences. Where will they come from in 2019? At the moment they are missing.
03. Number of New Franchise Launches & Box Office, 1997-2018
New Franchises: There were 15 new franchises in 2018, following 19 in 2017 and 21 in 2016. The 15 new franchises in 2018 was the fewest since 2011.
The new franchises in 2018 opened 21% higher than the new franchises in 2017 when you include Black Panther; however, without Black Panther, new franchise openings were 9% lower in 2018 than in 2017.
Franchise creation is the lifeblood of the commercial movie business. In 2019, the number of new franchises will increase slightly to 17.
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: The number of sequels, prequels/origins, spin-offs, and remakes has increased to over 40 in the last couple of years (triple the number of 20 years ago), and it continues to grow, approaching 50 during the last year, or one per weekend. The average episode number for franchises has settled at around three. In other words, more sequels, prequels, spin-offs and remakes, deeper into their life-cycle — they’re older.
Most franchises eventually slow down or wear out — this is another reason why new franchise creation is so important (chart 03).
05. Average Box Office by Franchise Episode, 2015-2018
Box Office by Episode: On average, franchise episode #2s dip in their domestic box office earnings, and then increase slightly in episode #3, #4, and #5. International box office also dips in episode #2, then increases in episode #3 and #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).
There is enormous episode variation by genre and franchise — it’s essential to look at genre and franchise to get a clear handle on per-episode dynamics.
06. Average Annual Rotten Tomatoes Score for Wide Releases (1,000+ Theaters), 1997 to Present
The average Tomatometer score is rising:
- Between 1997 and 2010 wide release movies averaged a 44.6% Tomatometer score;
- From 2011 to present the average picked up to 52.6%;
- And in 2018 wide releases scored 57.7%.
Rotten Tomatoes has come a long way from their early years of mocking sarcasm. This is a good thing — what’s the point of relentlessly trashing movies?
Rotten Tomatoes’ scores started rising in 2011 and they continue to improve to this day. 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.
There is a flaw that continues to plague Rotten Tomatoes, which is the line they draw between a shiny red tomato for reviews with a >/= 60 score, and an ugly green splat for reviews with a </=59 score. Are reviews with a 60 score good, and reviews with a 59 score bad? No, there’s everything in between. This is unfair to the green splat movies.