Some more data for my study, on box office figures. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, read here first.
Here’s the top 10 US box office film income for the years 1990 to 2009. Some of the 09 films are still playing, so that year should be taken with a pinch of salt, but at the same time, they’ll only increase, not decrease.
|Year||US Top 10 Box Office Total||Inflation corrected US top10 Box Office Total||Estimated Attendance (US Top10)|
I’m sure you’ll want to know where the number come from, and it’s easy enough to explain.
- Year – pretty self explanatory.
- US Top 10 Box Office Total – The box office figures for the top 10 films of that year are summed. Fairly simple, and a good estimation of the popularity of the ‘big’ films. The source, as always, is BoxofficeMojo
- Inflation corrected US top10 Box Office Total – Harder to explain, but it’s the previous column, adjusted for inflation to 2008 dollars. This gives a direct comparison. I used the Consumer Price index conversion factor published by Oregon State University. The factors are available here (pdf)
- Estimated Attendance (US Top10) – This was derived by taking the Combined box office figures (column 2) and dividing by the average yearly cinema ticket price. The average price is published by the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) and can be found here.
Now, a bunch of figures is all very well, but what does it mean? To give an illustration, The figures were plotted onto a graph.
The blue line is Top 10 combined. The purple line is the inflation-adjusted Top 10, (and are run from the LEFT y-axis) and the red line is the estimated combined attendance (based from the RIGHT Y-axis). The dotted lines for each give you some indication of how the trend is going overall.
What you can see, is that while attendance for these top-10 films are generally moving up somewhat, the income from them is increasing quite substantially. In this case, it’s a combination of ticket prices increasing at greater than inflation, along with a small, but significant general increase in the attendance figures. Box office takings are increasing, and it’s something the MPAA is at the same time issuing press releases about, while at the same time claiming poverty and forgetting about these figures.
About 2 years ago, in the January of 08, I started a little project. It was to look at the box office figures put out by the film industry, and look how p2p had impacted them. I did some initial research, which looked at US box office figures for 1996-2007.
Then, in June 07, I published an initial summery of some of my findings, with the aim that I would try and have the full study finished by the end of July 08. That (obviously) didn’t happen. A mixture of real-life pressures, and ADD kept me from finishing it (plus work on the Pirate Party US/International).
Studies like this were the reason I stepped down from Pirate Parties International. It’s only recently, now that the US Pirate Party has a full board, that I can concentrate once more upon things. So, I’ve updated the box office figures, and included 2008 and 2009 as well as 1990-95 (although some of the 09 films are still showing, so shouldn’t be taken as ‘final’).
One thing I did notice when collecting the figures, were the figures for 2005. This is the year, let’s not forget, where Hollywood claimed to lose $6.1Billion, to “Piracy” (meaning ‘copyright infringement’)
The thing is that while the box office figures for the US were down a bit, they weren’t down by much, especially not when compared to the 90s (before ‘piracy’) What’s more, while they may have lost a claimed $6.1Billion worldwide (1.3Billion of that in the US); the top ten films, of the 547 or so released that year, took in over $5.7B worldwide (and $2.4B in the US).
They never mention their income in the same press release as their claimed losses, and now you know why. They also never include the costs of the films, and there’s another reason. The top 10 in 1990 cost around $316.5Million in 1990 dollars (521.5Million in 08 dollars), which included films like Ghost, Total Recall, and Due Hard 2.
2005’s top 10 films cost a whopping $1.307 BILLION to make by contrast ($1.441Billion in 08 dollars) – 2.7x more. In fact, only two of 2005’s films cost less to make than the most expensive film (in the 1990 top ten, Die Hard 2 ($70M in 1990, $104M in 05 dollars). Those were Wedding Crashers ($40M) and Madagascar ($75M)
When you want to look at a reason Hollywood, and the MPAA feel they’re losing money, it’s the budgets that should be looked at. People are still going, but it’s the expense that drives the profits down.
Many thanks to BoxofficeMojo for lots of lovely data to work with.