Screenwriting is the process of writing a script for films, television, video games, and other visual media. It’s a creative and challenging process that requires a lot of hard work, dedication, and talent.
In this blog post, we will look at screenwriting statistics that every aspiring screenwriter should know. These statistics cover a range of topics, including the industry, market trends, and the craft of screenwriting.
Key Screenwriting Statistics 2023 – MY Choice
- Screenplays written: According to the Writers Guild of America West, around 50,000 screenplays are registered with the organization every year.
- Women screenwriters: Women are still underrepresented in the screenwriting industry, accounting for only 20% of employed writers. This figure has increased slightly over the past few years, but there is still a long way to go towards gender equality in the industry.
- Diverse representation: The inclusion of diverse characters and stories is becoming more important in the industry, and in 2020, 46% of the top 100 grossing films had a non-white lead or co-lead character.
- Genre popularity: The most popular film genres in Hollywood are currently action/adventure, comedy, and drama. In 2021, the top 10 highest-grossing films in the US were all either action/adventure or animated films.
- Streaming services: The rise of streaming services has changed the landscape of screenwriting, with platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu commissioning a significant number of original scripts. In 2021, Netflix alone spent over $17 billion on content, much of which went towards producing original films and TV shows.
- Remakes and adaptations: Hollywood is still heavily reliant on remakes and adaptations of existing properties, with 9 out of the top 10 highest-grossing films in 2021 being sequels, prequels, or adaptations.
- Writer salaries: According to the WGA West, the median income for screenwriters is around $60,000 per year, with the top earners making significantly more than this. However, this figure can vary widely depending on experience, success, and the specific project being worked on.
- Spec scripts: Writing a spec script (a script written on speculation with no guarantee of being sold or produced) is still a common way for aspiring screenwriters to break into the industry. However, the success rate of selling a spec script is very low, with only a small percentage of scripts ever being bought by a studio or production company.
- Outsourcing: In recent years, there has been a trend of Hollywood studios outsourcing screenwriting work to international markets such as India and China, where labor costs are lower. This has led to concerns about the quality of the writing being produced and the impact on employment opportunities for US-based writers.
- Writing competitions: Screenwriting competitions are a popular way for writers to gain exposure and potentially launch their careers. However, the competition is fierce, with many thousands of scripts submitted to each competition every year. The top competitions can offer significant prizes, such as cash awards, representation by top agents, and development deals with studios.
- The global box office revenue was $41.7 billion in 2019.
- The average length of a feature film script is 110 pages.
- In 2020, 205 movies were released in the US.
- The average salary of a screenwriter in the US is $77,862 per year.
- The WGA (Writers Guild of America) represents over 12,000 writers.
- According to the WGA, only 39% of working writers in Hollywood are women.
- The number of produced screenplays in the US increased from 5,435 in 2015 to 6,181 in 2020.
- In 2020, the top-grossing genre in the US box office was action/adventure.
- The average age of a produced screenwriter in Hollywood is 46 years old.
- The highest-paid screenwriter in Hollywood in 2020 was Aaron Sorkin with $5 million for “The Trial of the Chicago 7”.
- A screenplay is a written document that outlines a story for a film or television show.
- The first-ever feature film screenplay was written by French filmmaker Georges Méliès in 1902.
- The WGA has been the representative of Hollywood writers since 1933.
- Screenplays typically follow a three-act structure.
- The Academy Awards have a category for Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay.
- The screenplay for “Gone with the Wind” was the longest ever produced, at 238 pages.
- The script for “Star Wars” was originally called “The Adventures of Luke Starkiller, as taken from the Journal of the Whills, Saga I: The Star Wars”.
- The screenplays for the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy were written by three different writers.
- The screenplay for “The Social Network” was written by Aaron Sorkin in just 30 days.
- The screenplay for “Pulp Fiction” was written by Quentin Tarantino in just 8 days.
- Screenwriting allows writers to tell stories that can reach a large audience.
- Screenplays can be sold for a large sum of money, with the potential for even more earnings through royalties and residuals.
- Successful screenwriters can become household names and achieve celebrity status.
- Screenwriting can lead to other opportunities in the film industry, such as directing or producing.
- Writing a screenplay allows writers to express their creativity and imagination.
Screenwriting Industry Overview:
- In 2020, the global box office revenue was $12.4 billion, down 72% from 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- In 2020, the US and Canadian box office revenue was $2.2 billion, down 80% from 2019.
- In 2020, streaming platforms generated $12.2 billion in revenue, up 22.9% from 2019.
- The global film and video production industry is expected to grow at a CAGR of 6.4% from 2021 to 2028.
- The US film and video production industry employs around 385,000 people.
Screenwriting Market Trends:
- In 2020, the top-grossing film worldwide was “The Eight Hundred,” which made $461.3 million.
- In 2020, the top-grossing film in the US and Canada was “Bad Boys for Life,” which made $206.3 million.
- The superhero genre is the highest-grossing film genre, with over $29.2 billion in box office revenue.
- The horror genre is the most profitable, with an average return on investment of 813%.
- Female-led films have a higher return on investment than male-led films, with an average ROI of 33.8% compared to 25.2%.
- The average length of a screenplay is 110-120 pages.
- The first ten pages of a screenplay are the most important, as they can determine whether a reader will continue reading.
- The three-act structure is the most commonly used structure in screenwriting.
- The average scene length in a screenplay is 1.5 to 2 pages.
- The average dialogue-to-action ratio in a screenplay is 2:1.
- There are over 300 film and television writing programs in the US.
- The top five film schools in the US, according to The Hollywood Reporter, are USC, NYU, AFI, UCLA, and Columbia University.
- The cost of a screenwriting degree can range from $15,000 to $80,000 per year.
- The Sundance Institute offers a screenwriting lab that accepts 12 screenwriters each year to develop their scripts.
- The Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting is a prestigious competition that awards up to five fellowships of $35,000 each year.
- The Writers Guild of America has over 20,000 members.
- The minimum payment for a feature film screenplay is $71,000, according to the WGA.
- The average salary for a screenwriter in the US is $77,862 per year.
- In 2020, the top-paid screenwriters were Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, who earned $26.5 million for writing “Avengers: Endgame.”
- The highest-grossing screenwriter of all time is Steven Spielberg, with over $10 billion in box office revenue.
- According to the Writers Guild of America West, the median annual earnings for screenwriters in the United States is $72,000.
- The average length of a screenplay is 110 pages.
- The most common genres for screenplays are drama, comedy, and action/adventure.
- In 2020, the top-grossing films at the global box office were all sequels or adaptations of existing properties.
- The screenplay for “Gone with the Wind” was the longest ever produced for a commercially released film, at 471 pages.
- The “Save the Cat” screenwriting book series by Blake Snyder has become a popular resource for aspiring screenwriters.
- The Academy Awards have separate categories for Original Screenplay and Adapted Screenplay.
- Screenwriters often work with a “beat sheet” to outline the structure and pacing of their story.
- The Writers Guild of America maintains a list of the 101 greatest screenplays ever written, voted on by its members.
- Many successful screenwriters have backgrounds in other fields, such as journalism, advertising, or law.
Whether you’re an aspiring screenwriter or just curious about the world of film, these statistics provide a fascinating glimpse into the art and business of screenwriting.
From the rise of streaming services to the enduring popularity of certain genres, it’s clear that the world of cinema is constantly evolving.
By staying up-to-date with the latest trends and techniques, aspiring screenwriters can give themselves the best chance of success in this exciting and competitive industry.