Movie Studios - Statistics & Facts

The first movie studio was built in West Orange, New Jersey in 1893 by renowned American inventor Thomas Edison. Since then, the hub of movie making in the U.S. has moved to Hollywood, California where the world’s most successful movie and film studios now reside. “The Big Six,” comprising of motion picture conglomerates 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros., Universal Pictures, Columbia Pictures, and Walt Disney Studios, account for over 83 percent of the North American market share and bring in billions of dollars in revenue each year. The current largest of these is Walt Disney Studios (formerly Buena Vista) which brought in over 3 billion U.S. dollars in revenue in 2018 alone. As the studios grow larger and increase their investment budgets, more and more films are produced. In 2018, a massive 871 individual films were released in North America alone.

From the very beginning, the film industry has been rampant with mergers, acquisitions, and bankruptcies, meaning that the major companies have changed frequently throughout the industry’s history. Former ‘major’ MGM was simply a conglomerate formed by the merger of 3 large studios: Metro Pictures, Goldwyn Pictures, and Louis B. Mayer Pictures. The studio’s status as a major studio couldn’t stop it from going bankrupt in 2010, and the company has not managed to regain its status at the top of the industry. The current ‘Big Six’ majors have huge pull within the industry, and given their financial strength and leverage with theatre chains, can greatly influence which movies are popular. Disney / Buena Vista for example, accounts for around 26 percent of box office revenues as of 2018. Alongside Disney, Universal accounts for another 15 percent of box office receipts and Warner Bros over 16 percent. Each major studio releases massive, heavily-advertised blockbusters each year, but the major studios also have their hand in the independent film industry. The Big Six major studios own a plethora of subsidiaries which operate in other genres or target specific types of films, such as Sony Pictures Classics, Fox Searchlight, and Focus Features. Perhaps the most successful of these is FOX Searchlight which has earned more Best Picture nominations than its parent company.

The industry’s two major awards ceremonies are the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes. These awards offer recognition to the best films, producers, actors, composers, etc. over the course of the year, and serve as one of the best free ways to increase the reputation of movie studio companies. Walt Disney Studios and Participant Media received the most Academy Award nominations in the 2019 edition of the awards with 17 apiece, followed closely by Fox Searchlight and film-industry newcomer, Netflix, which both received 15 nominations. Universal Pictures received the most Golden Globe wins in 2019 with 4, the studio’s film ‘Green Book’ receiving 3 of these.

More and more films are being released each year, and box office numbers in the billions are becoming commonplace. Despite industry fears due to illegal streaming, and the rapid growth of Netflix as an alternative to traditional film studios, the U.S. film industry remains healthy and competitive.

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