A look at how the studios fared last year
Now that you have had time to digest our list of the best and worst films of 2011, it is once again time to look at the companies responsible for those films. Much like last year and the year before, this year's Movie Studio Report Card evaluates both the box office performance and overall film quality of the six major studios (and many indie distributors) in an attempt to determine the best and worst studios of 2011.
Which studios collected the most money?
While Paramount had an incredible year (more on that in a moment), 2011 was far less rosy for the other major studios, or the industry as a whole. Total domestic box office receipts fell nearly 4% compared to 2010, despite ever-increasing ticket prices. If that sounds familiar, it's because we wrote basically the same thing last year, though this year's percentage decline was even higher. An even more telling indicator, however, is actual ticket sales, and those numbers are even more dire: U.S. theatrical attendance fell to levels not seen since 1995.
Helping to compensate for fading U.S. ticket sales, once again, were foreign markets. The six major studios collected approximately $13.6 billion overseas last year, which represents an all-time record and a 7% gain over the figures for 2010. While that growth rate is actually slowing a bit, theatrical attendance in other countries appears to be stable, if not growing. Only three of the six studios were able to capitalize on growing foreign appetites for American films, however, with Paramount leading the pack with a 60% increase in foreign receipts compared to the previous year. Paramount is also one of just two major distributors to grow its domestic business in 2011, with the result being a first-place finish in U.S. and worldwide market share, taking the title away from previous leader Warner Bros.
|Overall Performance Grade||C||D+||A||D+||B||D|
|2011 Calendar-Year Box Office Grosses (in Millions of US$)|
|Change vs. 2010||↓15%||↓34%||↑14%||↓1%||↓5%||↑18%|
|Domestic Market Share / Rank||12.2%||9.6%||19.2%||12.5%||17.9%||10.2%|
|Change vs. 2010||↓6%||↓26%||↑60%||↑31%||↓2%||↑9%|
|Foreign Market Share / Rank||16.1%||15.9%||23.7%||13.5%||21.2%||9.6%|
|Films Released Between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2011|
|Total Wide Releases||14 films||15 films||15 films||21 films||21 films||15 films|
|Per-Film Average (Domestic, in mil.)||$85.1||$67.1||$128.4||$60.4||$86.9||$65.2|
|Domestic Hits (>$100m in U.S.)||3||4||9||3||5||4|
|Worldwide Hits (>$250m globally)||3||4||7||2||3||2|
Which studios produced the best films?
For the first time in the three years we have been ranking studios, one of the six majors has finished the year with a "good" average Metascore of 61 or higher. That honor goes to Paramount—yes, the very same Paramount that also out-performed all other studios at the box office—which became the first major studio to receive a quality grade as high as B+ in our annual evaluations. (Those letter grades, by the way, compare the overall quality of each studio's output last year against that of their peers.) Of course, the other five majors can be found in a more typical position: lower down on the list, with two in the C range and the other three receiving a D+ or worse. However, only one of those majors—Sony/Columbia—had a lower average Metascore in 2011 than in 2010. Three of the others actually improved their averages this year, while another (Fox) stayed constant.
If it is consistently good films you seek, look to the independents. Six of these smaller distributors earned quality grades of A- or better this year, up from five last year and just two the year before. Leading the pack was Sony Pictures Classics, which received positive reviews for an astounding 16 out of 17 of its releases last year, resulting in an average Metascore of 72.9, the highest mark in the three years we have been ranking studios. Sony's autonomous specialty films division was also one of eight distributors (with at least seven releases) to avoid releasing a negatively reviewed film in all of 2011.
|Studio||# Films *||# Great||% Good||% So-So||% Bad||Average Metascore||Quality Grade|
|Sony Pictures Classics||17||5||94%||6%||0%||72.9||A|
|First Run Features||15||0||67%||33%||0%||62.9||B|
|Music Box Films||12||1||50%||50%||0%||60.9||B|
|The Weinstein Co.||16||1||31%||31%||38%||52.7||C|
Details by individual studio
Turn the page for a closer look at each studio's performance during 2011. We'll start with each of the six major studios (in order by domestic market share), followed by a briefer look at the biggest independent distributors.