The Movie Business: Facts and Figures

While making a trek to the theater, it’s easy not to think about the money that changes hands. But money does indeed change hands. Movies are, after all, a business. And money is exchanged everywhere, across multiple demographics–from the ticket sold, to the concessions counter, all the way to the salaries of the gaffers and location managers who work so hard behind the scenes to bring us quality entertainment. Here are some facts and figures about the movie industry:

Click on image to enlarge


Filed under Movies

21 responses to “The Movie Business: Facts and Figures

  1. Even in “down” economies, movies generate revenue.

    • What I found interesting is that they’ve leveled off over the last few years. 2008 and 2010 were lower than any year since 1997. 2011 may be the same.

  2. Wow, interesting info. Must’ve taken you a while to gather it all together. I would think the percentage of Americans who go to the cinema at least once a YEAR would be more than 72%, but looks like I’m wrong. Great post full of invaluable information I won’t forget!

    • I think the catch there is that they say “every year”, meaning they’re going at least once, each year (i.e. if you don’t go very often, only once a year, odds are going to be even less that you go once every single year). It weeds out movie-goers the larger the number of years gets.

  3. Wait a couple of years to see if the 3D release figure comes down at all….

    I hope to God it does.

  4. It is amazing the amount of cash that the industry brings in. And the concession stand is the worst!! I have taken to sneaking my food in now.

    Saying that I have now learned to work the preview circuit and haven’t had to pay for a film in over 6 months…kerching to me 🙂

  5. Very interesting and useful chart! I keep meaning to look this up but never do – the percentage of ticket sales that goes to the studio versus what goes to the theater. I’ve been told for years that near all of the ticket sale goes to the studio, but I’m curious exactly how much. I wouldn’t be too surprised it if was 100%, but I would find that a bit depressing.

    Not too surprised by the popcorn markup. Every single time I go to the theater I end up having the same conversation:

    “Yes, I’d like a medium popcorn and medium coke.”
    “For 50cents less you can get our combo deal for a large popcorn and large soft drink.”
    “But I don’t want a large and a large. I’m absorbing less of your inventory so why are you charging me more to do so?”
    “I don’t create the combos sir.”
    “No, but you are a representative of an institution that is punishing me for being a responsible consumer.”
    “Oh just give the combo.”

    • RE: the take on ticket sales and studios, I found this while researching, from Film School Rejects:

      “Movie theaters operate on a kind of sliding scale. The first weekend of a movie’s release, the profit is split heavily in the studio’s favor, typically around an 80/20 split. The second weekend, it may change to a 70/30 scale, and so on. It’s even rumored that some major blockbuster films like Avatar are released with 90/10 or even 95/5 splits. Now keep in mind that exceptionally few films do very well after the first week of their release.”

      RE: the popcorn, I shudder to think how much money I’d save if I didn’t buy the popcorn damn near every time I go.

  6. So why is California always broke?!?

  7. Very nice and insightful infographic John!

  8. The guy who met Kevin Meany

    I would really like to see the year-by-year Return on Investment of 3D movies from 2006 to 2011. In Northern Virginia, not only do they put 3D movies on most the screens; they put the optimal 3D showtimes in the Goddamn IMAX theatre. Ticket price–$17.50. Since when is snorting coke off of high-dollar prostitutes a better value than going to the movies?

  9. wow. in western north carolina, movies are ten dollars. and there are like, two theaters. i am 27 and can remember when they were three dollars. more likely to go to a movie than a bar? really?

    • Keep in mind that the average cost includes matinées and dollar theaters. Here in St. Louis, if I go to a matinée, it’s $5.50 and it’s $8 for any other ticket.

      The catch on the movies/bar scenario is the second half of the statement: “once a month or more”. Think about the vast group of the 50 and older crowd, who would almost universally be going to movies more frequently than bars once a month or more.

  10. rtm

    I love infographics and you always make the best ones, John! Popcorn prices are just ridiculous, that’s why I always go to the movies after dinner.

  11. We have joined all the theaters rewards clubs some of which are actually pretty good. If possible also try to hit the Sat. Matinee films and always sneak in my own beverage of choice. Usually break down and spring the $4.50 for some popcorn.
    nice post

  12. Pingback: Film Facts & Figures | The Big Picture

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