An empirical approach to film audiences

Yesterday I was at the BFI Media Studies Conference at the Southbank, where I did a presentation on using box office data to look at audiences in the UK. This was based on several of the posts that I have put up on this blog over the past 18 months, and updates a few things here and there.

As I promised my audience yesterday, today I make available the PowerPoint of my talk. This can only be accessed as a .pptx file for Office 2007. The abstract from the Conference programme is included below.

Nick Redfern – An empirical approach to film audiences

An empirical approach to film audiences

The appeal of specific genres to particular audiences has been a crucial factor in the marketing and exhibiting of motion pictures, and films are often categorised by their intended audience – ‘woman’s film,’ ‘teenpic,’ ‘chickflick,’ etc. While there are a number of historical and economic studies of film audiences there has to date been no analysis of the relationship between genre, audiences, and the box-office performance of a film. This session will focus on empirical approaches to researching audiences and the British film industry, and will introduce relevant sources of publicly available data and discuss appropriate methods of analysis. Some recent results on the relationship between genre, gender, and the UK box-office will be presented, along with new research comparing the performance of films at the UK and US box-office.

Over the past ten years that has been an explosion of data on the film industry as state and industry bodies have accumulated and published. In the UK, the Research and Statistics unit of the UK Film Council produces a wide range of data sets covering all aspects of the film industry in the UK that are publicly available for researchers to use. The internet has proved to be a valuable resource in aggregating and disseminating this data, with websites such as Box Office Mojo and the Internet Movie Database. This session will focus on one specific type of industry data (the box-office gross for UK films), but will not view this data as simply economic but also as a means of understanding of how audiences behave in viewing particular types of films. Analysis of UK box-office data has revealed that there is a gender bias in some genres in British cinema, with action/crime films being identified as male and romance films as female; that there is a statistically significant relationship between the gender of the main character(s) of a film and the mean proportion of the box-office gross that is accumulated during the three-day weekend (Friday to Sunday); and, that school holidays have a significant impact on the box-office performance of films aimed at teenage girls (e.g. Wild Child, Penelope) while no similar ‘holiday effect’ is evident for male audiences. A comparison between these results and the performance of British films at the US box-office shows that there are significant differences in the way in which audiences consume films in these two countries, as British audiences tend to go to the cinema during the week while American audiences prefer to attend at the weekend.

About Nick Redfern

I am an independent academic with over 15 years experience teaching film in higher education in the UK. I have taught film analysis, film industries, film theories, film history, science fiction at Manchester Metropolitan University, the University of Central Lancashire, and Leeds Trinity University, where I was programme leader for film from 2016 to 2020. My research interests include computational film analysis, horror cinema, sound design, science fiction, film trailers, British cinema, and regional film cultures.

Posted on July 8, 2010, in British Cinema, Film Industry, Film Studies, Motion Picture Distribution, Motion Picture Exhibition and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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