How can I find information on the average gross income from all streams (theatrical, DVD, VOD) for a documentary?
August 2, 2009 12:53 PM   Subscribe

How can I find information on the average gross income from all streams (theatrical, DVD, VOD) for a documentary?

Looking for essentially the average income for all documentaries. Or at least those that have some sort of official release to theatres/DVDs. Not every one and there mom who made a little doc but say the average of all those that made at least $5K or something.

I know its a tough question, which is why my friend drafted me to help.

Easy to find BO grosses or things but having a hardtime with the other streams. Plus everyone only talked about the big docs such as This Film is Not Yet Rated, Roger & Me, Hoop Dreams, etc. I am also interested in those that made $100K not just $1 million+.
posted by IzzeYum to Media & Arts (1 answer total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: For these kinds of gross numbers, you're going to have to go straight to the distributors and producers, but I'd say even they won't have any idea of what the real, actual gross revenue number would be, and if they did, I have very strong doubts that they'll tell you. Distributors and producers don't like discussing numbers like these, mostly because they usually under-report them so that they can skimp on anyone they owe money to. It's less of a problem in the doc world, where residuals don't factor in, but the carryover from the studio model means that those gross numbers tend to stay very very close to the vest unless a guild audits a production.

The real question seems to be, "How much is a documentary worth?" For that, look at what docs sell for (although those numbers will be equally proprietary, but they'll be slightly easier to acquire through scouring Variety and tracking boards and such). I've seen revenue numbers for docs, though, and you can essentially discount VOD and streaming and such. The only real (and by that I mean significant) revenue generators for docs are theatrical, DVD, and cable. Of those three revenue sources, cable is the only one that's consistent and actually worth anything.

Just called a (consistently working) doc friend and asked him about his numbers. Here's his answer vis-a-vis VOD and streaming: "For [his most successful movie, which you've heard of and came out two years ago], I've made $122.38 for VOD. IFC and Sundance Channel and Discovery pay my bills."
posted by incessant at 3:19 PM on August 2, 2009

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