Current Movie Industry Charts
Below are FranchiseRe‘s key distribution and box office charts for all
wide releases since 1997 (3,685 films).
This is the best set of industry figures available anywhere.
Our weekend movie industry newsletter is based on these numbers, here.
01. Number of Franchise & Non–Franchise Wide Releases (1,000+ Theaters), 1997-present
Number of Releases: During the last several years, there have been approximately 140 wide releases per year, or just under three per weekend. 2019 had 58 franchise series films, and 80 original non-franchise films. As a percent, that’s 42% franchise films a year, and 58% non-franchise films. More than twice as many franchise films than 20 years ago.
The number of releases in 2020 and 2021 were sharply lower than in 2019 due to the pandemic. You can see the drop in the far right bars above.
02. Box Office for Franchise & Non-Franchise Wide Releases, 1997-2022
Box Office: In 2019, 58 franchise series films earned $22.77 billion at the worldwide B.O., more than four times as much as the 80 non-franchise original, single-episode films. In other words, the 42% franchise releases earned 83% of Hollywood wide-release worldwide B.O., while the 58% non-franchise films earned $4.82 billion, or 18%.
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 — $4.82 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 and the pandemic is widening it further.
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.
03. Number of New Franchise Launches & Box Office, 1997-2022
New Franchises: There were 13 new franchises launched in 2019, the fewest number of new franchises since 2007, and they earned $2.96 billion, the lowest figure since 2007. After dropping in 2020, there were 12 new franchises in 2021, generating $2.44 billion, which is not bad considering the pandemic conditions.
New franchises are the lifeblood of the commercial movie business. Let’s see how new franchises continue to do as business recovers from the pandemic.
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 reached 45 per year during 2018 and 2019, or nearly one per weekend. This is triple the number of 20 years ago, and 50% more than 10 years ago — a dramatic increase.
And the average episode number for these films is now over 3.5, notwithstanding the dip in 2020 when many sequels and remakes were delayed. In other words, we have more sequels, prequels, spin-offs and remakes than ever, and they are deeper into their life-cycle — they’re old, and getting older.
There were fewer sequels, prequels, spin-offs and remakes in 2020, again due to the pandemic (the far right bars above). 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, 2015-2022
Box Office by Episode: On average, franchise movies grow in episodes #2 and #4, and business falls back in #3 and #5. Series that make it to later 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 — each has its own dynamics.
06. Average Annual Rotten Tomatoes Scores for Wide Releases (1,000+ Theaters), 1997 to Present
The average Tomatometer score continues to rise:
Rotten Tomatoes’ average review score for wide releases has increased from 44.7 before 2011, to 66.9 in 2022, and it continues to increase to this day. Are movies improving? No, they’re the same. Rotten Tomatoes has said that the increase comes from adding more critics, with more diverse backgrounds, but that doesn’t add up — one set of professional critics would not be more positive than another set.
Rotten Tomatoes rewards a score of 60 and up with a shiny red tomato, and 59 and below gets an ugly green splat. A picture is worth a 1,000 words and those shiny tomatoes and green splats are everywhere. If 60 is the dividing line, then the average should be as close to 60 as possible.
The improvement in the scores coincides with Warner Bros.’ acquisition of Rotten Tomatoes in 2010, and then Universal’s acquisition of a 75% majority stake in 2017. Whatever the explanation for the changing scores, they’re better than they were. After all, what’s the point of a review website that trashes movies with a negative bias?
At the same time, let’s not get carried away. The current scores are bubbly. There would be less of a problem if there were a middle ground of 40 to 59, for mixed reviews. Right now, reviews with a 60 score are good, and reviews with a 59 score are bad. That’s not right.
All those pre-2011 movies that still carry an ugly green splat wherever they appear on viewing apps and websites — those biased scores should be adjusted. In 2004, 73.4% of wide releases got the green splat; in 2019 it was 46.4%, and in 2021 it was 39.6%. Many of those early scores were distorted, and they are misleading to this day.