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Connections & correlations Connections & correlations

Visualizing movie data

Henk Lamers

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Visualizing movie data

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When I started this assignment I was interested in how much money is actually going on in the film industry. How much does a movie costs? What is the budget? What is the revenue? And how do these figures compare with our ratings. I thought it was easy to check the data on the site of IMDb. But unfortunately all I found was very incomplete data. I checked all 150 films that we have seen since January 2015. And guess what: there are only 56 films that both show you the budget and the profits. To make it more complex, all numbers are mentioned in different currencies. So I have to convert them to dollars. Additionally, in all the movies descriptions that are not from the United States, there is virtually no indication of costs and benefits given. So I have to check at other websites if there is additional information.

143 Movie reviews of the 200 movies that we watched in 2015.

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Visualizing movie data

Where does the money go? Now, we’ve all heard about the hundreds of millions spent on making movies. To gain full insight into this is difficult to find out. Where the money comes from is even harder. Added to this is that today’s blockbuster has become far more than just a movie. However strong the characters and storyline, the film never gets the go-ahead unless it can justify itself in terms of its TV spin-offs, sequels, merchandising opportunities, DVD’s, CD’s and streaming services. Anyway The income and expenses are often kept secret from the public. But quite a lot is known about the releases for the production of ‘Spider-Man 2’. To begin with a bit of history. Where does the Spider-Man character come from? Most people who discuss this topic nowadays tend to give Jack Kirby credit for being part of the process that led to the creation of Spider-Man. The case for Kirby’s involvement in the creation of Spider-Man is so compelling that it has become common knowledge. Stan Lee is an American comic-book writer, editor, film executive producer, and publisher. He was formerly editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics, and later its publisher and chairman before leaving the company to become its chairman emeritus, as well as a member of the editorial board. In collaboration with several artists, including Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, Lee co-created fictional characters including Spider-Man, the Hulk, Doctor Strange, the Fantastic Four, Daredevil, Black Panther and the X-Men. With the addition of co-writer Larry Lieber, the characters Ant-Man, Iron Man and Thor were developed. In addition, Lee challenged the comics industry’s censorship organisation, the Comics Code Authority, indirectly leading to it updating its policies. Lee subsequently led the expansion of Marvel Comics from a small division of a publishing house to a large multimedia corporation. But how does the financial picture of Spider-Man 2 look like? To begin with, we start with a budget of thirty million dollars. No idea where this budget came from. ‘The Day I Became a Woman’ by the Iranian film director Marzieh Meshkini had a budget of one-hundred-eighty thousand dollars. Three-hundred-forty-four thousand dollars were earned with this film. In addition, the film received an eight from us in our movie reviews. So the amount of money that a film has cost does not say anything about its quality. Next comes the script. The script budget of a film is typically five percent of the total budget. That amount of money goes to Alvin Sargent. Twenty million dollar is reserved for licensing. In this case the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) company owns the Spider-Man character. Since Sony bought the movie rights in 1999, there has been ongoing bickering and litigation between Marvel and Sony, pushing the licensing price even up further. Again a budget of ten million dollar goes to Alvin Sargent for writing the screenplay. The screenplay contains the movement, actions, expression, and dialogues of the characters.

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The really big money goes to the stars, the director and the producers who, like the less glamorous members of the crew, are still paid a traditional weekly wage for the length of the shoot. The producers get fifteen million dollar. Blockbusters like this one spawn numerous producers who all expect a slice of the pie. Spider-Man 2 has two producers (Avi Arad and Laura Ziskin), one co-producer (Grant Curtis) and three executive producers (Joseph M. Caracciolo, Kevin Feige and Stan Lee). Beside of that (and that is one of Hollywood’s better-kept secrets) is the phenomenal fees producers can get. The film director (Sam Raimi) gets ten million dollar. And if test audiences dislike a scene, the director is obliged to cut or reshoot. For their pains, directors can still command a hefty fee. For the cast is thirty million available. Industry insiders estimate Kirstin Dunst may have got seven million dollar for Spider-Man 2. Alfred Molina would be paid in the region of three million dollar. Tobey Maguire’s participation was in doubt at one point because he was suffering severe back pains. Jake Gyllenhaal, was lined up to play Spider-Man and had already begun preparation. But Maguire decided to take part after all. Maguire received four million dollar for Spider-Man, twenty-six million dollar for Spider-Man 2 and twenty-six million dollar for Spider-Man 3. Anyway the rest of the cast will have picked up three million dollar. Actors, agents and managers go home happy with a tasty ten to fifteen percent of their clients’ payday. The production costs are forty-five million dollars. These are the expenses of the physical production of the shoot (including crew fees). Principal photography on Spider-Man-2 began on April 12, 2003 in New York. The production spent three weeks shooting at various locations. The most demanding (and expensive) technical shot was a 732 meters ‘Spidercam’ wire shot dipping and diving over Wall Street. The lion’s share of the post-production budget (sixty-five million dollars) was spent on Special Effects. These include 3D footage, motion capturing, digital lighting and compositing, model making, visual effects, animation, tracking and match moving, character modelling. I counted 95 people for special effects. 144 People working at the Art Department. And for Visual Effects 371 people were credited. Three-time Oscar-nominated Danny Elfman composed the music for Spider-Man 2 for a fee nearing two million dollar. Finally the print and advertising costs are actually not included in the production budget. Having already spent two-hundred million dollar on making the film, the studios are now committed to spending seventy-five million dollar on marketing it. This is roughly how the money was spend making Spider-Man 2.


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Seventy-five million dollar were spent on marketing Spider-Man 2.

A movie’s gross is the total amount of money a movie makes during its run in the box office. I’m not sure if physical media sales such as Blu-Ray and DVD counts here. But keep in mind that the numbers are adjusted for inflation as of 2014. Knowing that, what was the highest grossing movie in history?

It is a film from 1939: ‘Gone with the

On the second place, a film from

And on third place a film from 1977:

Wind’. With a worldwide gross of

2009, ‘Avatar’, with a worldwide gross

‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ with

$ 3,440,000,000.

of $ 3,020,000,000.

a worldwide gross of $ 2,825,000,000.

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Visualizing movie data

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After an extensive check at other websites this resulted in 69 films with complete financial information. I think I should leave out the series. These often run over several years and are applying varying budgets. While a film only runs once and receives just one budget. Another thing is that these figures represent only periods when movies are played. Some play longer periods than others. Because they are more popular they bring in more money. But that says nothing about the quality as we have seen before. Our list shows that there are only three films made which costs less than one million dollar. However, there are 14 films which benefits less than 1 million. I made two text files of them. One with the highest budget on the top. The other list has the highest gross at the top. Then it is important to read the text-file into Processing and display it in the display window. A simple task. But that turned out to be more complicated than I thought. It comes down to that there is a lot of attention in the tutorials to get a text-file into Processing’s console. But how to get the data into the display window I could not find anywhere. I got my question answered 50% through the Processing Forum. And partly solved it myself. Been busy with it for one afternoon. And this is the first result. Not very impressive but all data that is in the text file is displayed in my Processing display window. And that was the first goal I had in mind.

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VMD_03_02

The next step I need to take is to separate the data lists. It should be possible to reposition the movie-titles, budget and revenue. If I cannot do that I cannot deal with the layout. Incidentally, at this moment the sort and reverse functions are quite handy. And I changed the font to Futura Book.

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Visualizing movie data

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How does the program know which budget and income are associated with a movie? That is a question for me too. For the two digit columns are mixed-up. The budget and the income lists are both sorted from large to small amounts. The budget list thus does not have the same order as on the income list. So I have added film titles both to the budget and the income list. In that manner it is easy to check for me if the lines of the budget are written to the right amounts of the income list.

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Changed the background colour to a very dark grey. Furthermore, now the budget and income-lists are connected by a line to one another. Everything looks pretty cluttered. But that will change in the next design. What’s striking is that the biggest blockbuster has a horizontal line. ‘Interstellar’ with a budget of 165,000.000 dollar and a total income of 675,020.017 dollar.

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Visualizing movie data

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I’ve started checking the film titles, whether they are written correctly and without mistakes. All non-English-language film-titles translated: Les Petits Mouchoirs is Little White Lies. Loin des Hommes is Far from Men. Relatos Salvajes: Wild Tales. Marie Heurtin: Marie’s Story. Elddfjall: Volcano.

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And that is one side of data visualization. You are a data design researcher, an administrator, a graphic designer, translator, animation designer, interaction designer, a Sherlock Holmes and programmer at the same time. I have given the chart some more space. And the distance is increased to the lists of numbers. Which suddenly brings me to a new idea.


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VMD_03_06

I now work in Processing 2. Its time to download the new Processing 3 and fund the Processing Foundation. That is the least I can do because I work daily with Processing. In Processing 3 you can use the Table Class. It’s easier to work with because everything is now in one text file.

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Visualizing movie data

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The $ sign was added but I do not find it successful. Maybe find another solution. Right now you do not see what the amounts of the lists are. I know that the left-hand amounts are for the budget. The right column represents the amount of income.

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VMD_03_08

Because ‘Interstellar’ is misrepresented I have thrown this film out. I think the columns should have proper labels. And I need room for doing that. I have also added the sequence of 0-10 to the right. The numbers 0-10 represent the ratings we have given to the films. The idea is that I’m once again going to draw the lines but now from the income-list to our ratings.

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Visualizing movie data

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I have adapted the total graph a bit. Lines start and stop now slightly closer to the lists of numbers. I have added the vertical text ‘Amounts in American Dollars’. The overall chart remains somewhat chaotic but I think the result is not disappointing.

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Added colour. I chose green for the films that cost less than their revenue. And I choose red for the films that have cost more than their revenue. Now the graph begins to show a disadvantage. Because the lines are thicker it is difficult to see to what amounts they belong.

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Visualizing movie data

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I replaced the line function by the bezier function. Now it is better to see which amount belongs to which line. And the overall chart looks slightly smoother. Of the 64 films, 26 films have made a loss. 38 Films have made profits. Mr. Turner eventually made losses but was still on top of our rating. Locke is a movie made for 2,000,000 dollar. It made a profit of 5,000.000 dollar and received a 10 in our rating. The Salvation has cost 11,524.796 dollar. To our knowledge it has brought 5000 dollar (which I strongly doubt). But it still gets a 7 in our rating.

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Visualizing movie data

Conclusion In short, data visualization is very interesting, its the most complex area of visual design, very time-consuming and precise puzzling. Actually I had to code the program much smarter. But that would cost even more time.

Results can be found here: Flickr Text and design: Henk Lamers and Jeanne de Bont Copyright Š 2016 Loftmatic, The Netherlands. All rights reserved

143 Movie reviews of the 200 movies that we watched in 2015.

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