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May 1994


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 11 May 1994 19:07:23 EDT
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Re:  Rentals vs. Grosses
I believe that Shawn Levy was correct when he wrote that "rentals represent
the portion of gross boxoffice sales that goes from exhibitors to
distributors.  In most cases...roughly 50% of the total b.o. take."  A later
post said this figure was closer to 33%, but I'm pretty sure that the
industry "rule of thumb" is generally, worldwide, one half.  The
*distribution fee*, on the other hand (that amount that the distributing
company takes "off the top" of the rentals it get grom the exhibitor), is
generally 30% in North America and 40% in the rest of the world.  At least,
these are the figures that are usually referred to in DAILY VARIETY and THE
By the way, there's no way that THE ROBE was the first $20,000,000 picture,
any way you look at it.  According to Variety's "All-time (North American)
Film Rental Champs" list, BIRTH OF A NATION had film rentals of $10,000,000
in 1915 (although given the accounting for that picture, that figure can't be
anything more than an educated guess).  SNOW WHITE had rentals of $62,000,000
in 1937, GONE WITH THE WIND had rentals of $79,000,000 in 1939, etc.  (All
these figures are for North America only.  According to VARIETY,
"...[international] figures are not available on a comprehensive basis.")
My understanding is that the only thing that THE ROBE is famous for is being
the first feature released in CinemaScope.
Michael M.
(via America Online)