Paper Digital Humanities Australasia 2018

Data-driven cinema studies: from media exchange between two markets to global film distribution (39)

Vejune Zemaityte 1
  1. Deakin University, Geelong, VIC, Australia

This paper combines a Digital Humanities approach with Cultural Economics methods to study film industry data at a range of scales. It does this by examining international screening data at three levels of attention ranging from the most distant to the closest reading: the global focus, the country focus and the focus on two specific markets. It makes connections among the three modes of engagement with the data as well as among the three samples derived from the Kinomatics database, which is a ‘big data’ collection of global movie showtime information that registers all cinema screenings in 48 countries spanning over 2.5 years from December 2012 to May 2015.

In this paper, a feature film’s distribution is defined using four measures: the number of screenings, the length of the theatrical run, the geographical spread and the release delay. The movie, distribution and production factors that shape a film’s circulation such as the running time, genre, the size of the distribution company, the season of release and the production origin are also included in the study. This paper engages with the three data sets using exploratory data analysis, cluster analysis, non-parametric statistical tests and multiple regression analysis.

The global sample of 3,424 films released in 2013 that received over 130 million screenings in 40 countries over the span of 2.5 years is first studied to reveal worldwide patterns of circulation. Five distinct types of global cinema distribution are identified through cluster analysis. Also, observable factors that determine the global number of screenings for internationally released films are specified using multiple regression analysis. The geographical spread, genres documentary, drama and live event, as well as the running time and the production origin Japan, are found to be the most important determinants of the global volume of screenings.

Then a more detailed version of the sample comprising of 18,142 movie-country pairs is examined to compare and contrast cinema distribution in 40 countries. Key factors that help explain the volume of screenings in each market are identified through multiple regression analysis thus quantifying similarities and differences among the countries. The length of the run, the geographical spread and the release delay are found to have a large effect in most of the countries, while the impact of movie, distribution and production characteristics varies across markets.

Finally, a sub-sample of 231 American films that screened in the US and Australia, which also includes box office information, is analysed to model the trade relationship between the two markets. Vast cultural differences are detected between American and Australian audiences using non-parametric statistics. Also, a relationship between the number of screenings and box office earnings is found to be strong within both countries, although only moderate and only for high earning films between the countries as proven by multiple regression analysis.