A look at how the studios fared last year
We have already examined the best and worst films of 2009; now it is time to look at exactly who was responsible for those films. In this, our very first Movie Studio Report Card, we evaluate both the box office performance and film quality performance of the six major studios (and many indie distributors) as we determine the best and worst studios of 2009.
Which studios collected the most money?
The short answer to that question is "all of them": 2009 was a record-setting year at the box office, with the studios combining to gross over $10 billion domestically for the first time in history. Their combined overseas take also established a record -- for the third straight year -- with approximately $10.7 billion in receipts. The studios also sold nearly 100 million additional tickets versus their total in 2008, posting their highest total in admissions since 2004. So much for the bad economy.
Of course, while a rising tide lifts all boats, it apparently lifts some of them higher than others. As the chart below indicates, one studio (Warner Bros.) dominated the domestic box office, while several others also put together great overall years. We'll talk about each studio in greater detail in a moment, but note that -- since this is a report card, after all -- we have assigned letter grades to each major studio, assessing them on their box office performance in 2009 in comparison to their peers.
|Studio||Domestic Gross||Domestic Mkt. Share||Hits (>$100M)||Avg Per 2009 Film*||Foreign Gross||Foreign Mkt. Share||Performance Grade|
Which studios produced the best films?
Foreign film specialists Zeitgeist Films and Sony's specialty unit Sony Pictures Classics take our top honors for highest overall film quality in 2009, as the pair combined to release 29 films without a poorly-reviewed title among them, while also compiling average Metascores exceeding 70 out of 100. A third studio, Focus Features, also avoided bad reviews last year, but didn't average as high a score as the other two distributors. Sony Classics also tied for the lead in the number of "great" releases (films with a Metascore of 81 or higher) in 2009 with a total of five, which was matched by indie distributor IFC Films.
As for the major studios -- well, let's just say that their record-setting box office performance was not attributable to above-average film quality. Disney and Paramount had our highest performance grades -- a lackluster C -- out of the six majors, thanks to lineups heavy on mediocre films in spite of a couple of great titles apiece. 20th Century Fox easily placed last among the major studios, with a terrible average score of 43.1.
Below, we examine the overall quality of films released by studios issuing at least 7 titles in 2009, ranked in order from best to worst. As we did with the box office performance, we have assigned letter grades to the studios to represent the quality of their films in comparison with their peers.
|Studio||# Releases||# Great||% Good||% So-So||% Bad||Average Metascore||Quality Grade|
|Sony Pictures Classics||20||5||85%||15%||0%||70.6||A|
|Anchor Bay Ent.||8||0||0%||88%||13%||46.5||D+|
|20th Century Fox||16||2||13%||50%||38%||43.1||D|
Details by individual studio
Let's look more closely at how each studio fared during 2009. Over the next pages, we'll take a detailed look at the quality and performance of each major studio, followed by a briefer look at the biggest independent distributors.