Glossary of Movie Business Terms
Domestic Box Office
Total money spent on tickets by moviegoers in the "domestic market", which is defined as the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and Guam.
Certain films and franchises have a very loyal following, usually due to their source material. Fans of these films will flock to see them as soon as they open, either over the opening weekend or, especially, opening night. This inflates box office on these days, reducing both the Internal Multiplier and the overall Multiplier for the film. Since young men tend to be the most ardent fans of major franchises, this is described as the Fanboy Effect. The incredible popularity of the Twilight franchise among young women has led to the rise of the equivalent Fangirl Effect.
The Home Market refers to revenue derived from people viewing movies at home. It is broken down into three sections: video rentals, video sales and TV rights.
The Hulk Effect
Back in 2003 when Hulk was in production, Universal bowed to incredible pressure from fans and released early footage of the special effects. The plan was to get the fans talking and build up word-of-mouth. However, the special effects were in the early stages and were so bad that the buzz it generated killed any chance the film had. More recently the same happened to Catwoman with the early look at Halle Berry's outfit. Just goes to show you, sometimes there is such thing as bad publicity.
A film's weekend box office divided by its Friday number. It's basically a measure of the film's word-of-mouth, with 3.0 being the best most films can get these days while 2.3 is generally the bottom rung. Certain films have an inherent advantage (like those aimed at kids), while the Fanboy Effect can shrink the number as the hardcore fans flock to the movie on Friday.
Legs is a term used to refer to how long a film lasts in theaters.
A film's total box office divided by its opening weekend box office. Another measure of the film's word-of-mouth but with a much wider range of possibilities. Films with below 2.0 are not unheard of, while 6.0 or more are a possibility. Just as a side note, not too long ago films with a multiplier of 10 or more were quite common, but the economics have changed and a big opening weekend is too important to the studios and the home market shortens a film's legs.
Prints and Advertising (P&A) Budget
Prints are the actual physical film that are shown in theaters and are quite expensive to make and distribute, costing about $2,000 per print. Each theater needs at least one print and possibly more depending on how many screens the film is playing on. The advertising part of the budget is the amount spent on just that, advertising. Most of the money is spent on TV, but radio, newspapers and magazines, the Internet and in-theater advertising are also very important. The average P&A budget for a major studio release was $34.5 million the last time the MPAA reported the figure in 2006 (spends are generally believed to have risen since then).
The amount of money it cost make the movie including pre-production, film and post-production, but excluding distribution costs. The average cost of a major studio movie was about $65 million when the MPAA stopped tracking the number in 2006 and has risen since then. The most expensive film commonly cost more than $200 million to make now.
Screens & Screen Count
The actual screen the movie is projected on. Most Theaters have multiple screens, with largest having two dozen screens or more. Screen Count is simply the number of screens a film is playing on. This count is rarely published domestically, but is the basic unit of measurement in some international territories.
The Sequel Effect, a.k.a. Sequelitis
This as essentially a sub-species of the Fanboy Effect specific to sequels. Such films have a built in audience due to the original movie (as otherwise making the sequel is pointless) and can have dramatic declines after sizable opening nights and weekends.
Theaters & Theater Count
A theater is any place a movie is showing from the smallest cinema on the art house circuit to the largest megaplex. A film's Theater Count is simply the number of theaters a film is playing in at a given time. Domestically, the Theater Count is used to measure how wide a release is.
When a movie is shown in theaters, the studio/distributor and the exhibitor (movie theater) will share revenue from ticket sales. The studio's share (usually around 50%) is called the "rental". This should not be confused with video rentals (e.g., through Blockbuster, RedBox etc.).
The amount paid by a TV network for the right to broadcast a film. Networks usually get the exclusive rights for a period of time. For major films, there will be sequence of "windows", with pay TV (HBO/Showtime etc.) broadcasting the film first, and then free network TV following a year or two later.
Categorization of Acting Roles
We use eight acting role types to define the different performances in a movie, TV show, or stage play.
Leading or Lead Ensemble Members
For movies, we generally use a simple rule to determine whether an actor or actress has a leading role: Do they appear in the movie's theatrical poster? If they do, they have a leading role. If they do not, they do not have a leading role. If there are more than four cast members on the poster, then we classify all actors in the poster as being "Lead Ensemble Members."
Note that movies with large ensemble casts will sometimes have several posters highlighting different members of the cast. See, for example, the posters of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. All characters who get a poster are considered "lead ensemble members."
If the poster shows no actors or actresses at all, then we look at the people credited at the top of the poster. These people are considered the lead actors in this case.
For TV Shows, an acting role is considered to be leading if the actor is credited at the beginning of the show. Lead actors in TV shows are generally considered "lead ensemble members", unless they are the main focus of the show. For example, Sarah Michelle Gellar is classed as having a leading acting role in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, while Anthony Stewart Head, Alison Hannigan, Nicholas Brendan etc. are all classed as lead ensemble members.
With the exception of cameos and leading players, all other cast members listed in the credits are considered to have supporting roles.
A cameo is a small role performed by a well-known actor or director, often limited to a single scene, with the casting done specifically because of who they are, not because of their acting talents. Examples of cameos are Alfred Hitchcock's appearances in his films and Stan Lee's brief appearances in Marvel films. Note that small parts played by actors before they became famous are not cameos. Rather, they are either supporting roles or roles as an "extra."
If someone is not credited, and does not have a cameo, we classify their role as being an "extra." In general, we do not include extras in the credits, although some early roles as extras by now-famous actors and actresses are included.
Interviewee, Documentary Subject, Narrator, Archival Footage
The biggest producer of international films in terms of worldwide appeal and another market where a film hitting $100 million isn't unheard of, although for a film to bring in $30 million is about as common as a film hitting $100 million domestically. Not only do they produce a lot of their own films, the U.K. also tends to be the international market that is most receptive to most Hollywood films, especially comedies.
Germany is a market in transition as recently homegrown movies have really dominated the German speaking markets. Low brow comedies tend to do well here, as do films aimed at an urban audience domestically. Austria tends to have very similar box office tastes as Germany, just with a much smaller box office; a typical film will earn 10% to 20% of what it made in Germany.
Similar box office totals to the U.K., but local films tend to dominate the box office more in France. Also, the foreign language films with the biggest domestic box office tend to come from France.
Eclectic tastes means films that received just a limited release domestically tend to do well here. Hitting $10 million here is about as common as films hitting $150 million domestically.
Similar to the U.K., with similar tastes, except the average film will earn just half as much at the box office. Also, the local film production industry isn't nearly as strong. Films tend to open in Australia and New Zealand either on the same date, or within weeks of each other.
Horror films are the biggest draw here. One of the smaller major markets with $10 million a major milestone for the market and very few making it to $20 million or above. Films tend to open big and drop very fast, 50% second weekend drop-offs are common.