Congressional Research Service Shows Hollywood Is Thriving

from the shouldn't-congress-wonder-why-they-need-sopa/pipa? dept

The Congressional Research Service is the research arm of Congress that is widely respected as presenting (non-partisan) high quality, extremely credible research for folks in Congress. In fact, the quality is so good, that many are annoyed that the output of their research, despite being public domain, is rarely made available to the public. The only way that information is released is if the elected official who requested it decides to release it. Thankfully, some of our elected officials do just that.

Recently, Senator Ron Wyden asked CRS if it could explore the state of the movie industry today as compared to 1995 on a variety of different criteria. You can read the full report embedded below, but here are a few key points. First off, despite the industry’s regular attempt to play up its contribution to GDP and employment, the report found that the combined GDP contribution of both the “motion picture and sound recording” industries was a whopping 0.4% in 2009. Back in 1995… it was also 0.4%.

As for employment, Hollywood loves to claim that it employs millions of people. One popular number is that 19 million people have jobs in “IP-intensive industries.” Of course, we’ve discussed how misleading a term that is, as they lump in all sorts of jobs that have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with copyright. So, how many people are actually employed in the movie industry? Not that many. 374,000 in 2010 — and that includes both full and part time workers. And that’s really not much different from the 392,000 in 1998. So it’s not like the industry has been losing employees in droves as they imply. Furthermore, that’s only slightly more than the number of jobs that Facebook’s app platform alone is estimated to have created. Hell, we’ve seen reports that have said eBay alone created 750,000 small business jobs. Perhaps Hollywood isn’t as big a part of the economy as it likes to claim.

Similarly exaggerated? Its dire straits. Let’s take a look at box office revenue:

Also interesting is the look at CEO pay at the major movie studios, then and now. It seems that Disney’s CEO (Robert Iger) made $29,617,964 in 2010, compared to Michael Eisner’s mere $10 million back in 1994. Time Warner? CEO Jeffrey Bewkes made $26,303,071 in 2010, while his predecessor Gerald Levin made $5 million in 1994. CRS apparently couldn’t find past data on the other studios, but in the present, it looks like their execs are all cashing in. News Corps’ Rupert Murdoch made $33,292,753. Viacom’s Chairman, Sumner Redstone, made $15,033,630, while its CEO Philippe Dauman famously made $84,515,308. NBC Universal was still under GE in 2010, whose CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, brought in $21,428,765. Then there’s Sony, whose CEO was the pauper of the bunch, having his salary and bonus cut to a mere $4.3 million due to “financial problems stemming from the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.”

It doesn’t sound like things are that bad these days in Hollywood. So why do we need massive legal changes again?

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Comments on “Congressional Research Service Shows Hollywood Is Thriving”

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anonymous says:

Re: Re:

controlling the internet is what it is all about! it has never been about the money, the artists, jobs the economy or anything/anyone else. it’s only the politicians that are using the entertainment industries lies to get new laws passed and only then because they have been ‘encouraged’ to do so! screwing over the public and eroding their rights at the same time as introducing those laws is turning the US into a much less desirable place to be!

out_of_the_blue says:

Well, the AP says otherwise. Who knows?

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Hollywood’s holidays are off to a dreadful start: Fewer people went to the movies the last two weekends than during the box-office hush that followed the Sept. 11 attacks 10 years ago.

By the way, passed the 1,000 comment mark recently. But that doesn’t include 500-some that mysteriously disappeared during my vacation months starting last winter. — Mike thanks me for every one, says it’s great!

jupiterkansas (profile) says:

Re: Re: Well, the AP says otherwise. Who knows?

that article says “Studio bosses generally blame bad weekends on bad movies.” and “many moviegoers complain about high ticket prices”

Perhaps if they weren’t betting on the Muppets to save them and put out some good movies instead, things would be different.

Or perhaps people just have better things to do than watch movies these days? Hell, I don’t want to go out to see movies. I can do that at home on a nice TV.

jupiterkansas (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Well, the AP says otherwise. Who knows?

I doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad – it’s Hollywood cashing in on tired nostalgia, which is all they’ve done for the last decade. The film business is nothing but corporate art run by marketers and the only creativity is coming from the handful of directors who have created their own little sandbox to play in.

But I don’t really blame Hollywood. I blame audiences who keep giving their money to garbage while great, original movies go unseen. People have to get over marketing hype.

Another AC says:

Re: Well, the AP says otherwise. Who knows?

I like how you implied Mike waas wrong with a single link there, yet won’t contradict him directly. Presumably, deep-down you know he’s right.

But as a counter-point (not that you really had one there, but I’ll try):

Like the stock market, the economy has its ups and downs. And also like the stock market, you need to look at how you’re doing long term. Smart people don’t look at one small event and assume the entire market is always like that 🙂

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Well, the AP says otherwise. Who knows?

the AP says otherwise

No they don’t. The article you posted was for a *single* data point, compared to cherry-picked “low”s at other times. Considering your displayed understanding of economics (and thus statistics) I suppose this might come as a shock to you, but it’s impossible to correlate a trend from a single point.

By the way, passed the 1,000 comment mark recently.

Just think – if you’d spent that time studying statistics or economics, you might actually have something relevant to contribute! Maybe that could be your new-years resolution – to actually learn something about the stuff you post? Please?

Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile) says:

Re: Well, the AP says otherwise. Who knows?

Hmmm? Most people are out shopping. And let’s check out the line-up of blockbusters that the cinema is running. Note that the listing shows them in order of most recent release. Don’t think any of those are your $100M flick. The latest Twilight film is probably the big money maker and that has been out over a month now and made plenty even though I hear it was the worst of the series…and that is coming from fans.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Well, the AP says otherwise. Who knows?

To be fair there isn’t a good movie out right now. If there was people would have gone to the movies. Making crappy content and pointing the fingers at piracy because nobody wants to pay for it is pretty typical of the Narcissistic entitlement industry…. errr Entertainment Industry.

Ilfar says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Well, the AP says otherwise. Who knows?

I don’t own a TV cause there’s nothing to watch, and I don’t go to the theatre for the same reason.

The last movie I watched was Transformers 3, before that was Wall-E. Before that it would have been Return of the King. Incidentally, it costs more to see a movie than it does to buy the DVD when it comes out…

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Well, the AP says otherwise. Who knows?

How the hell do you know you’ve passed the 1,000 comment mark? You don’t have an account here. If I click on the word profile next to my own name, it shows I’ve made 730 comments. What about you? How are you keeping track? Besides, number of comments alone isn’t an indicator of quality. If you want to say “I’ve made 1,000 comments, therefore, I’m great”, then logically (something you apparently don’t use) you must also praise Mike who has written several articles a day, 5 days a week for over ten years.

Adam J says:

Re: Well, the AP says otherwise. Who knows?

OMGosh! Hollywood had 2 bad weekends? Will Hollywood survive? What will we do?!? If this keeps up, what will happen to the children? WON’T SOMEONE PLEASE THINK ABOUT THE CHILDREN!?!?
Did it ever occur to Hollywood that the reason they might have bad weekends is because they are not putting out as much good material that people are willing to pay for, or just rehashing old movies all together. Footloose is one of the more recent ones that comes to mind. Also, the national economy is not in good shape, yet Hollywood/Recording industry still want record breaking profits. RIAA & MPAAI, I will not pay for a turd, no matter how shiny it is.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Well, the AP says otherwise. Who knows?

Or maybe, just maybe, enough people have heard of the SOPA/ProtectIP crap, and instead of beating their heads against the walls here, they are doing what most people do….vote with their wallet.

For the handful of vocal people on here that are being forward and debating, there is a shit ton of other people that say “Oh, gonna be greedy now? Fine. /Boycott” and never even say another word about it.

Chris-Mouse (profile) says:

Re: Well, the AP says otherwise. Who knows?

Take a wander through, a movie industry research site.
Specifically, the section on the
Biggest Combined Gross for All Movies in a Single Weekend

Looks like of the five biggest weekends, two have been in this year. The remaining record weekends were in 2008 and 2009. Then look at the chart below that one, the worst weekends were all from 2000 and 2001.
It certainly doesn’t sound to me like the movie industry has any grounds for complaint about the box office revenue this year.

RD says:

Re: Well, the AP says otherwise. Who knows?

“LOS ANGELES (AP) — Hollywood’s holidays are off to a dreadful start: Fewer people went to the movies the last two weekends than during the box-office hush that followed the Sept. 11 attacks 10 years ago.”

So….because you have one bad weekend in the last decade of moviegoing (during which, by the way, most years were more profitable than not, and the CEO’s are being paid FIVE TIMES what they were 15 years ago) that means we need legislation that erodes due process, civil liberties, all but abolishes the bill of rights and the 1st and 4th amendments, and makes sharing a FELONY and giving MORE jail time to someone sharing a michael jackson song than to the man who ACTUALLY KILLED MICHAEL JACKSON HIMSELF?


Pardon me if I take a moment in stunned disbelief to say:



and the paid-for congressman you rode in on.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Re: Well, the AP says otherwise. Who knows?

Congratulations on your 1000, or 1,500 comments. A nice solid slap on the back.

By the way, did you have AP’s approval to copy that newsflashy sort of sentence? I’ll have you know that AP doesn’t believe in or acknowledge things like fair use so consider yourself whacked across the head with a blunt object, courtesy of Associated Press.

PIRATE!! Thief of copyright! Horrible person! Immoral, unethical bag of water and carbon!!! May you rot in hell!!!! Or at least your own delusions!

And so what that box office receipts are down? That’s supposed to prove something other than a continuing bad economy or that the overwhelming bulk of Christmas releases are, for lack of a better word, crap?

Again, thanks for all your posts, blue. We wouldn’t be the same without you.

Anonymous Coward says:

It's about the secondary sales

While bootleg copies of new theatrical releases are seen as a problem, I think the main reason Hollyweird wants to get the Internet under control is so they can grow profits in the secondary release market, with streaming services being the emphasis. They hate Netflix because it’s rather cheap. They want government to secure their marketplace so they can increase prices on streaming. And yes, it’s all about making more profits, not “saving jobs”.

ECA (profile) says:

Ok, but..

I can see where the movie industry can get 1million employees..

But you also have to understand that this also includes control of Distribution in the WHOLE of the USA.

It also shows full Control over what is shown in the theaters.

IF’ you counted all the people involved in the theaters, distribution, and OVER priced food. you could get those numbers.

Anonymous Coward says:

Figured don’t lie, but liars can figure.

Mike, how about a graph of ticket sales and ticket prices? That makes it a little clearer, how ticket sales are DOWN significantly, and the money made up only by increases in ticket prices (mostly because of the 3D surcharge).

If you are going to run with some numbers, why not tell ALL the truth, rather than just one side?

A Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I may never go to a theater again. I enjoy interactive entertainment as opposed to cold rooms, sticky floors, no pausing, over priced snacks, and over priced tickets.

I would rather read, play a video game, or rent a movie.

Right now however, if someone else really wanted to go though, I would.

If SOPA/PROTECTIP passes, I will never go again, even if someone asks, on principle.

Mr Big Content says:

The Proof Is Staring You In The Face

You yourself said it–the valuable Intellectual Property created by the recording and film industries has remained stagnant at 0.4%. Why? Precisely because of piracy. If it weren’t for the pirates, that 0.4% could have grown to, who knows, 4%, 40%, 400% by now.

This is why we need important laws like SOPA/PIPA, to create wealth like that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The Proof Is Staring You In The Face

“Mr Big Content, Dec 12th, 2011 @ 5:07pm
You yourself said it–the valuable Intellectual Property created by the recording and film industries has remained stagnant at 0.4%. Why? Precisely because of piracy. If it weren’t for the pirates, that 0.4% could have grown to, who knows, 4%, 40%, 400% by now.

This is why we need important laws like SOPA/PIPA, to create wealth like that.”

Create wealth? if it were jobs to be saved i could’ve agreed. but seeing how the difference in jobs is nearly 20k spread over multiple companies it might as well be blamed to the current economy state.

that as side will those laws create jobs; most likely will the money generated by those laws go to those workers? i think not as said before those CEO’s board members will likely see the majority of that on their annual bonus cheque. and I for one will not sponsor a CEO because he thinks after 15 years a salary increase of 300%+ isn’t enough.

Anonymous Coward says:

Would like to know...

The union has been telling us that we need to support PIPA/SOPA because without it the studios and networks wont be able to afford to keep producing movies and TV and we will all lose our jobs. I’d really like to see some verifiable figures for profit as return on investment, especially for the episodic (tv series) market, i.e. if I invest $35 million to produce 22 episodes of a TV show what percentage profit am I looking at? What are gross revenues?

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Re: Would like to know...

Given that some 80% of proposed new series never make it to air anywhere in the English speaking world investment in a tv series is a colossal risk. Two thirds of those that do are cancelled in 4-6 weeks these days. Mostly because they’re colossally bad.

Taken together I suspect the profits and revenues are negative once the rare hit is removed from them. One reason why the producers tend to be silent on the whole issue.

All in all bad reality shows are the best bet which is why so few of your union’s membership is working these days because reality tv is incredibly cheap to make, demands only first year film making course quality and can be shot on a $300 handy cam.

Not a pirate there at all. Except those Hollywood casts as such. Like the pirate sites they whinge on about.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Would like to know...

You will never get a real answer thanks to Hollywood Accounting.

It is a similar model used by the recording industry. The Canadian arm was on the hook for up to 6 billion owed to people they “forgot” to pay, they settled for 50 millionish and one of them is trying to force their insurance company to pay off on them ignoring their obligation to pay their workers.

The Hollywood accounting made a Harry Potter film that took in tons of money, look like it was a complete loss on paper. One would think if a “Blockbuster” like Harry Potter is such a dog, why would they have made more. I’m guessing because what they record on the accounting sheets is craftily whittled down to nothingness, lowering what they have to pay out to anyone working for/with them.

The Union is using scare tactics, the truth is if they managed to get these crap laws passed then you will be out of jobs.
No one will ever find out about a new tv series, because any coverage not approved will be deleted. Any bad review will be deleted. Any fansites will be deleted, and the person running it will end up facing jail time. Consumers will be in terror of even tweeting anything about a show, less they come get them. Twitter will most likely filter tv show names to avoid the hassle of yet another delete it or be blackholed off the internet and sued for billions demand letter.
People will look for new entertainment avenues where the people producing the content understand the consumers are not the enemy and the internet can be their best freind… up until they declare every form of streaming not owned by the major corporations has to be infringing content and is blackholed with a simple form letter with no one making sure they aren’t lying about it.

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