How much does Hollywood earn?

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Major anti-online piracy laws like PIPA/SOPA and ACTA are designed to protect the intellectual property of businesses like the US movie industry.

Hollywood cites yearly losses of billions of dollars to illegal internet downloads as justification for new legislation. (source, PDF)

But what do the numbers say?

US Film Industry Revenues -

See our data and calculations:

(And, um, if you can supply worldwide DVD sales figures, please get in touch!)

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Show Comments ( )

  • nick

    Does “DVD” include blu-ray sales?

    • david

      yep – all home entertainment & rental

  • Jack

    Not a lot of hard numbers here. Guesstimates are Beautiful?

    • david

      Educated Guesstimates are beautiful. Lack of hard global figures are not our fault. We tried!

  • geekglue

    Would be interesting to see the figures for gaming sales in these graphs. Surely some of Hollywoods market share must have shifted to this market. Especially when you consider the sales figures for new releases of Call of Duty and the like.

    • david

      Yeah and increased video game sales and playing may have had an impact on the DVD market.

      • Markus “LAKE” Berglu

        Yes. A family only has a limited amount of money to spend on entertainment and recreation. And if you spend more on games, both PC and consoles, then we have less time and money to spend on movies.

        I blogged about it here in swedish) and also made some connections to ACTA, the international version of SOPA/PIPA.

      • nick

        It might also be interesting to plot the growth of mobile phones along with video game sales against this data, as mobiles are our other time consuming eyeball hogs.

        Ooh also Facebook and the rise of those awful social apps.

  • Thomas Dillon

    Worth remembering that the studios only receive about half the box office – the cinemas take the rest (plus the popcorn revenues).

    • wayne

      Actualy movie studios can get as much as 90% of the box office. Whilst some movies have a fixed rental price, most operate on a sliding scale where cinemas keep 10-20% for the opening weekend which will increase every week. If a film is in cinemas for several weeks then the split will get to 50-50. But the movie studios have placed such an emphasis on opening weekends that this is becoming increasingly rare.

      this is why cinemas charge so much for popcorn.

  • karl

    And it would be interesting to add the providers of online Entertainment such as Netflix, Apple, etc. Because that would be another way of shifting the revenues to other sources.

  • Stephanie

    I just got through looking at your (beautiful) graphs evaluating Hollywood’s claim that movie revenue has been declining. It appears to me that the problem with revenue decline is directly related to DVD sales, and I wondered what contribution Netflix had on DVD sales. I’m sure it’s multifactorial, but based on personal experience, it stopped making sense to spend $24.99 on a DVD when I could watch it for “free” any time I wanted for $4.99 a month.

    Love the website. Thanks for all the work and thought and genius you put into it.

    Stephanie Goodrich

  • JT

    Wouldnt the most relevant figures be sales VOLUME rather than VALUE ? Even then, the price of a DVD/BluRay is low enough that one DVD costs less than two people going to the theatre. And people share DVDs. And they are sold & resold through used vendors.

    Thats without the competition between movies, music, and online “rentals”/downloads through youtube and other legitimate services. There is a glut of media options for the consumer. Its called market saturation, with a twist. Its no longer movies competing against movies. Its a movie competing against itself – just different available media options. The customer will always find the most economical means.

  • Avi Marcus

    Is there a statistical way to account for the popularity of netflix (and itunes?) eating into DVD sales? Because it does seem that dvd sales are down..

  • Daniel Smith

    I’m sure I’m not the only one to balk at your introductory sentence: “Major anti-online piracy laws like PIPA/SOPA and ACTA are designed to protect the intellectual property of businesses like the US movie industry.”

    PIPA/SOPA does not have that aim. PIPA/SOPA is using piracy as an excuse to gain legislative control over the Internet and would not stop piracy. There are far, far, far better and easier ways to actually combat piracy that are common knowledge among IT professionals but those are not part of PIPA/SOPA.

    Love the website and visuals! Visualizing this data does in fact support the idea that they aren’t making as much as their boom year in 2004. Seeing that is priceless.

  • Trevor McCormick

    I would love to also see the box office trend for average ticket price for North America superimposed on the line graphs as well! I really just can’t afford an $11 ticket (x2), +$9 popcorn, +$7 soda.. All the sudden your looking at $40 for 2 people to see some movie. Movies used to be a fun thing the whole family could go to, now that would cost $80 or more!

    (PS, why spend that much on a movie when you can spend less on music or camping or something??)

    • Brit

      That’s a fair point. Although, if half as many people went to the movies, but they make twice as much money from each movie-goer, then it balances out to the same amount of revenue. I suspect that the movie industry has an interest in finding the optimal point on the demand curve to maximize revenue. Of course, whether or not they’ve found it is a matter of debate.

      P.S. Don’t ever buy popcorn or soda at a theater.

  • Mike

    I would be curious to see how this compares to the links in this letter from the EFF:

    Dear Hollywood: An Open Letter to the Hardworking Men and Women in the Entertainment Industries

    • Brit

      I followed a link in that article, which lead me to a new techdirt article claiming all industries have grown significantly over the past X years. What’s funny is that the techdirt article uses the one upward chart (international box office revenues) to argue that the movie industry is doing great. They ignore declining box office revenues in the US, declining DVD/BluRay sales in the US, and declining international total numbers (box office+DVD/BluRay) – the last one being most relevant.

  • Zachariah Kendall

    I don’t see how the graphs are very relevant to the argument. Showing various trends in revenue sheds a null amount of light on how that revenue correlates to piracy.

    What matters is not revenue; it is a business and industry and deserve revenue and high revenue is good. No one says, “Oh Apple makes loads of money, who cares if their stores are broken into and robbed.”

    What would be more interesting is to adjust the graphs for changes in population growth, wage increase, with notes about changes in availability and distribution (these particularly in the specific international countries).

    Also we need stats about pirating venues. Is there a correlation between ups and down of the revenue with the use statistics of pirating means such as torrenting or of new visitors to major sites like “The Pirate Bay.”


  • Brit

    Box Office Mojo has some 2011 numbers for the Box Office (your graphs only show upto 2010). It looks like 2011 Box Office revenue was down 4% compared to 2010.

    It’s also worth a mention that the US population is growing, which means the per-capita revenue is showing larger declines than the total revenue. (The US population has grown by around 10% in the past 10 years.)

    In contrast, a number of websites (arguing a pro-piracy position) have used non-inflation-adjusted numbers to show that the movie industry has had massive growth over the past 30 years or so. Of course, once you adjust for inflation, most of that growth disappears.

  • Brian Dear

    Box Office and DVD/Blu-ray revenue is but a fraction of the overall revenue of a movie. The graphs above may be pretty, but they’re pretty inaccurate and very misleading. You’ve omitted all kinds of other revenue including video-on-demand rights, broadcast rights, cable rights, streaming rights, merchandising, etc. Now consider all those numbers in 100+ countries.

    • B

      > “Box Office and DVD/Blu-ray revenue is but a fraction of the overall revenue of a movie.”

      If you’re going to make a claim that they’re “just a fraction” you should provide some data showing it.

      > “You’ve omitted all kinds of other revenue including video-on-demand rights, broadcast rights, cable rights, streaming rights, merchandising, etc. Now consider all those numbers in 100+ countries.”

      I’m not sure how “video on demand rights” differs from “streaming rights”, and I would agree that this is one area which I’m sure has had growth in the past 10 years, but I don’t have reasons to suspect that those other categories have grown.

  • Roger

    Interesting Statitistic. It shows clearly that the Sales have decreased but: Where are the Graphics from the Earnings of Online Sales? They are increasing for sure and i am pretty sure that today the Movie and Music Company have more income then 2004 in total because of the Sales in the Internet, even if they lose some money from unauthorized Copys. I really think that they are moaning on a very high level.

  • Rick

    Awesome data. Would of been interesting to see what the international DVD sales figure would be like. But yes, it is quite clear sales have been going down over the years. I guess now I can understand more their viewpoint on PIPA/SOPA (although I still do not agree with it).

    Also, as Trevor mentioned above. Movie ticket prices have just gone stupidly through the roof. Where I live in Australia, the cheapest movie ticket for (as a student) is AUD $14. Adults pay a small fortune ranging around the $16-17 mark. It is just retarded. One of the cinemas close to home nearly went bankrupt towards the end of last year, and they wonder why…

  • Gert K Nielsen

    What happened to the Beautiful? Are you concentrating on a more journalistic approach?

    As a journalist I miss the zerolines though.


  • Mike

    Great post in time for the upcoming Oscars, I wonder how much the studios get from the box office revenue?

  • Bill Rosenblatt

    Wonderful data gathering.

    Do you have any idea what percentage of home video revenues are sales (DVD + Blu-ray + VHS + EST) as opposed to streams or rentals?

  • mouse

    DVD sales drop just as Netflix becomes popular. And they blame piracy? I know Netflix made me stop buying DVDs – it seemed futile. Then streaming came along and proved it was futile. And still they blame piracy?