According to the 2015 Guinness Book of Records, approximately 10,048 movies were released worldwide in 2013. Chris Hyams, founder of film festival submission company B-Side Entertainment, has even guessed that the yearly figure is more like 50,000, if all the independent, short and art-house movies are included. That’s 137 movies a day – or just short of six per hour. And yet, how many of these movies are celebrated for being great? The most official/brutal answer, if we go with the powers that be over at The Academy, is 10.
Continuing the theme of fun maths for the moment (said no-one, ever), that means that movies have a 1 in 5000 chance of being nominated for best picture by The Academy. Your chances of being hit by lightning during a lifetime in America are 1 in 3000. There are then, ultimately, better odds that you will be hit by lightning – twice – than any of those 50,000 movies being nominated for best picture.
Obviously, there are hundreds of celebrated movies out there that never made it to The Academy’s ruthless consideration, and of course, The Academy itself does recognize excellence across a variety of categories, such as animation and foreign film. But whether we look to The Academy or not, the point remains that of the surfeit of movies arriving in any one year, only a few are going to be held up as truly great.
At the other end of the spectrum, there are the films that achieve notoriety for being terrible. They too have their own awards – the Golden Raspberries (or “The Razzies”), mainly. But again, the opportunity to be celebrated for being gloriously awful is limited, with only 5 movies usually making it to the worst picture shortlist.
What we are left with then, after all the awards have been given out, is a vast ocean of movies that are somewhere in the middle. Or, to use a technical definition, average.