Monday, February 06, 2012

Visual Effects Are Important To Box Office

An image from "Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, Part II", which has earned over $1.3 billion at the global box office.

Last month, I tweeted this:

If only there was some way to visualize the importance of visual effects films to the box office.

The above chart was made by the website, which, as many pointed out, only chose certain categories to chart, since they made the chart to support a specific point in one of their articles.

This inspired me to make my own, complete chart, customized to include everything I wanted to see.  I wanted to visualize the average global box office take of each of the nominees of each category of the 84th Academy Awards.  I had an idea of how the graph would ultimately turn out, but I wasn't expecting it to be this lopsided.  Click here to see a larger version of the chart.

Now, I can happily, confidently and completely say that visual effects films have a significantly higher box office take than any other Oscar category for this year's 84th Academy Awards.  The average nominee for Best Visual Effects earned over $662 million in global box office.

This should surprise virtually no one.  Visual effects get people into the theaters.  Our amazing images, brilliant spectacles, and never-before-seen worlds are the new movie stars, not just domestically, but globally.

To be fair, the Academy usually rewards actors and directors of prestige pictures with nominations-- films that don't typically earn hundreds of millions of dollars.  I think it is, however, significant to illustrate this idea - out of all of these important categories of filmmaking that the Academy wishes to celebrate with awards, it is clear the visual effects branch's films are doing the heavy lifting of selling tickets around the world, lifting the industry.

It also illustrates the sad state of the visual effects community. The average Oscar nominee for visual effects made over $662 million globally, and yet our industry has relatively little power in Hollywood.

Some notes: Had this been a typical year, the Animated Feature average would have been much higher, since two out of the five nominees from this year have yet to see a wide release.  But even if those two nominees made, say, $350M globally, it wouldn't have pushed the average even close to the visual effects average of $662M.  Also, the Makeup category was significantly bolstered by the inclusion of "Harry Potter 7.2" (which currently has a global box office take of $1.3 billion), which offset its two very modest fellow nominees, "The Iron Lady" and "Albert Nobbs" (which has yet to have a wide release).

And, just to state the obvious, it would be interesting to see what this chart looks like for, say, the last 10 years of Academy Awards, to see if this years' chart is an anomaly, or if this is a good reflection of a decade's worth of data.

Showing my work; a CSV of the data is here.


Anonymous said...

I bet if you took a list of the biggest money-losers of the last 20years, you'd find most of them were big FX movies, too.

Todd said...

What, exactly, is a 'money-loser'?

Draw any conclusions you want from the chart. Perhaps my mini-conclusion - 'visual effects films get people into the theaters' - is flawed or invalid.

However, you cannot take away the fact that the vfx nominated films earned far and away more money than any other category's nominees. The 'best' of visual effects earned more money than the 'best' of any other category. You can do whatever you want with that fact.

Anonymous said...

I hear the same thing about computer games over and over again, that one day they’ll be so advanced they’ll serve the same purpose of films. What these people seem to neglect however is that film is not an interactive medium, it’s a passive experience that uses storytelling and characterisation to make us care about what we are seeing on screen. Videogames may look amazing but you wouldn’t want to just watch them, would you? After all you don’t really care about your character on screen unless you have the controller in your hand.

Alex Frisch

Connie Jordan-Carmichael said...

Outstanding post, though I would not have expected anything less from you.Your blog is very interesting and I have learned a lot of importance from this.

Connie Jordan-Carmichael | Ubiquity Broadcasting Corporation