A look at how the studios fared last year
Now that you have had an opportunity to check out the best and worst films of 2010, it is once again time to look at exactly who was responsible for those films. As we did last year, our Movie Studio Report Card evaluates both the box office performance and film quality performance of the six major studios (and many indie distributors) in an attempt to determine the best and worst studios of 2010.
Which studios collected the most money?
Despite average ticket prices that jumped 39 cents compared to 2009 and a full dollar higher than they were just three years ago (with the larger slate of 3D films being the chief culprit), total domestic box office grosses were down by about $30 million last year, the third such year-over-year decline in the past six years after more than a decade of nothing but growth. Last year also saw the biggest drop in domestic film attendance since 2005. But before you shed a tear for the major studios, take a look at this number: $28.2 billion. That's the total global box office take in 2010, a figure that includes foreign receipts that were nearly $2 billion higher than the year before.
The biggest beneficiary of Hollywood's global expansion? Once again, it's Warner Bros. The studio collected over $2.9 billion at foreign theaters while also placing first among all studios in domestic market share, and the result was worldwide box office record of $4.8 billion in 2010. It was the second year in a row that Warner Bros. set the global record, and thus it is also the second year in a row that the studio has earned our highest performance grade out of the six major studios.
Despite that success, Warner Bros. was actually one of three major distributors that failed to gain domestic market share in 2010. Both Disney and Paramount boasted significant performance increases in the U.S. and abroad last year, while Universal continued to lag far behind its peers. The one studio listed below that merits further explanation is Fox, which we graded at a C despite the studio finishing second in worldwide grosses among the major distributors. As we shall see in a moment, Fox's 2010 films were mostly box office duds or, at best, minor hits. The sole reason for the studio's strong overall total was Avatar, a 2009 release that earned the bulk of its record-shattering revenue during 2010.
|Overall Performance Grade||B||C||A-||B-||A||D+|
|2010 Calendar-Year Grosses (in Millions of US$)|
|Change vs. 2009||↑19%||↑6%||↑16%||↓12%||↓9%||↓1%|
|Domestic Market Share / Rank||13.8%||14.0%||16.2%||12.1%||18.2%||8.3%|
|Change vs. 2009||↑35%||↑16%||↑49%||↓37%||↑53%||↑11%|
|Foreign Market Share / Rank||18.1%||22.8%||15.6%||11.0%||23.1%||9.4%|
|Films Released Between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2010|
|Total Releases||14 films||17 films||15 films||18 films||27 films||15 films|
|Per-Film Average (Domestic, in mil.)||$107.3||$56.4||$116.1||$73.0||$66.2||$57.9|
|Domestic Hits (>$100m in U.S.)||4||1||8||4||5||3|
|Worldwide Hits (>$250m globally)||5||2||6||4||4||3|
Which studios produced the best films?
Of course, at Metacritic, we're more concerned with quality rather than quantity. And, once again, the six major studios mostly failed to earn high marks for film quality despite those record-setting grosses. Of the major distributors, only Paramount earned above a C when graded against the quality performance of all studios last year, though no major studio managed a "good" average Metascore of 61 or higher. (In 2009, by comparison, none of the major studios graded above a C, so last year actually qualifies as an improvement.)
Fortunately, we still have "independent" studios. Though many, like 2010's highest-scoring studio, Sony Classics, are actually owned by larger film companies, they are still independent enough in their decision-making to turn out consistently good movies. In fact, there were seven studios in 2010 that managed to avoid releasing a poorly-reviewed film, including the four at the top of our quality chart below.
|# Great||% Good||% So-So||% Bad||Average Metascore||Quality Grade|
|The Weinstein Company||7||3||71%||29%||0%||70.9||A|
|Music Box Films||8||0||63%||38%||0%||64.8||B+|
Details by individual studio
Let's look more closely at how each studio fared during 2010. Over the next pages, we'll take a detailed look at the quality and performance of each major studio (ordered by worldwide grosses), followed by a briefer look at the biggest independent distributors.