ByJohn Pring, writer at
John Pring

The Hollywood film industry is big business, with successful films raking in tens or even hundreds of millions for studios all over the world. But it's tricky business, with no guarantee of substantial box-office receipts, many films end up losing huge sums of money after pouring millions into new titles.

As William Golman noted, 'nobody knows anything' when it comes to Hollywood, with films expected to flop making millions and vice versa on several occasions. So with that in mind, in this post we look at the formula for a hit Hollywood film, based on a superb infographic from Shade Station (below) and analysis from the wonderful team at The Economist:

So according to the infographic above, while there isn't a guaranteed formula for success, you can improve your chances of producing a hit by following a few simple rules:

Announce a large budget (even if you don't spend that amount)
On average, 80c is generated for every dollar a studio promises to spend on the film

Make a sequel
On average, sequels make an incredible $35million more than original titles

Make a superhero film (ideally a sequel!)
You may have noticed a raft of superhero films being released in recent years, and there's good reason for this. Let's say you have a $200m budget, you will earn $58m more at the box office if you make a superhero film, compared to a non-superhero title.

Keep it family friendly
If your film is R-rated, you will make $16m less on average. The only exception is Deadpool, which seems to have bucked an otherwise pretty solid rule.

Put some thought into your lead actor / actress
You might think that hiring a big name lead actor such as Di Caprio, Will Smith or Jennifer Lawrence will give you a much better chance of raking it in at the box office. This is true, but not as much as you might think - on average, a big -name star will make you an extra $10m

Release your film in the summer
Yep, timing really does count. Summer releases might not do as well with the awards, but they will net you an extra $15m compared to any other time of the year.

Worry about the audiences, not the critics
Analysis from The Economist shows that every 10% in the Rotten Tomatoes critic score earns you an extra $1m. Whereas the same increase in audience review scores nets you an extra $11.5m in box-office revenues.

Following this blueprint probably won't get you much in the way of awards (according to the infographic, your chances of winning an Oscar are about 1 in 500), but you can expect a solid profit for each film you churn out of around $40m. Not a bad business plan for your budding studio!


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