Hollywood Budgets – A $5000 Data-Viz Challenge

Hollywood Budgets - A Visualization Challenge
This might be our best dataset yet. A massive sheaf of numbers on every major Hollywood film since 2007. Their budgets, review scores, grosses, genres and profits. Just in time for the Oscars in February!

We’re challenging people to visualise this data – either in a design or an interactive piece. And, thanks to beloved sponsors Kantar, we’ve got $5000 to give away to the winners.

Best of all – you don’t need to be able to design. You can sketch your entry on a napkin.

» Check out the challenge at InformationIsBeautifulAwards.com
» Check out the data

The Matrix

I’m so excited about this dataset. We hand-compiled it over a year. It’s fully comprehensive and flips up the hood on Hollywood. Let me just go through it with you.

For every Hollywood & major US film of the last 5 years, it collates:

  • lead studio
  • reviews – Rotten tomatoes metascore (all critics’ reviews combined into a single score) & audience score
  • story type (of the 22 potential types of plot – see this PDF for a summary)
  • genre
  • grosses – opening weekend, domestic gross, foreign gross, and worldwide (plus number of theatres in US opening weekend)
  • budget (very difficult figure to find for some movies, especially flops)

and best of all

profitability – what % of the production budget was recovered at the box office.


It always bugs me how Hollywood grades or broadcasts the success of a film by gross income. Profitability, or % of Budget Recovered, is a way better grade of a film’s success. Especially in America, where each film has such high printing and advertising costs, that it needs to recover about 250-300% of its budget to be deemed a true hit.

In fact, if you use Profitability as an index, it changes the view considerably. Take 2007, for example, where the biggest grossing film was Pirates Of The Caribbean: At Worlds End. But it only recovered 320% of its budget. But the most profitable film of 2007 by far was…

Can you guess? Have a look at the data.

CONCEPT: David McCandless
SOURCES: The-Numbers.com, BoxOfficeMojo, IMDB, Wikipedia
DATA GATHERERS: Miriam Quick, Marley Whiteside, Dan Hampson, Pearl Doughty-White, Matt Hancock, Alexia Wdowski
SPECIAL THANKS TO Phil Hodges (sorry it didn’t work out man!)