How to List Comparable Films in Your Film Business Plan

In every film business plan, it’s always good to include a list of films similar to yours, which have already made it out into the world and become a success either financially or critically.

The idea is that you want to show potential film investors a business plan that shows that a film like yours can make money in the marketplace, and thereby make that investor more comfortable about investing in your film.

And of course, the only proper way to do this is to use actual facts and actual data from actual films.

But unfortunately, data isn’t always available via a simple Google search, so you’ll need to either crack open your investigatory skills, or bring in an expert or a company who’s job is to put together this data.

Let’s dive in. First off, find out what successful films out there are similar to yours. If you’ve got a serious science fiction movie, you’ll ideally want to find a serious science fiction movie to compare your film to, rather than, say Muppets In Space. If you’ve got a Matthew McConaughey-style romantic comedy, you’ll want to compare your film to one (or more) of those films. When selecting films to compare your film to, use these criteria:

1) My Film’s Budget Level / Star Factor: If you’re a smaller film with no names attached, find successful films with non-star actors which have made sales at festivals or markets.

2) My Film’s Niche (Or At Least Sub-Genre): If your film fits into a super-specific niche market, it should be easy to find comparable films which have done well. On the other hand, if your film is more of a broad drama or comedy, it’s going to be counterintuitively harder to find a comparable film, because now you’ve got to arbitrarily figure out how to compare your film with another film using broader categories, such as plot situations, settings, etc.

3) Your Film’s Tone: Though they’re both comedies, if you’ve got a comedy like The Puffy Chair, the tone isn’t going to be the same as in a comedy like The Hangover.

4) Your Target Audience: This has a lot to do with the tone as well. Many producers fall short in this category when putting together their film business plan. They think that by telling potential film investors “Hey, our target audience is everyone,” or “Our target audience is everyone 12-65,” that the film investor will see that wide target audience range as a more attractive investment opportunity. Nothing can be further from the truth. The bottom line is: if your film doesn’t target a specific demographic, your film is likely going to fail to make its money back.

So what data do you include when comparing your movie-to-be with successful movies similar to yours?

The very minimum data you should include in any film business plan:

Negative Cost (Basically, how much the film cost to make)
Theatrical Gross (US / FOREIGN)
Cable TV / Pay TV / VOD (US / FOREIGN)
DVD (if you can find this data)

There’s a ton of other revenue categories you can include, such as Distributor Fees, Exhibitor Fees, Prints and Advertising Costs, but the bottom line is that you want your film business plan’s comparable films section to show your investor that several films that are very similar to yours have turned a profit.

Don’t use smoke and mirrors, don’t use films that are way different than yours, and for the Love of All Things Holy, don’t use one-off “outliers” like Clerks, El Mariachi, and other films which made massive sales. Those are flukes. Especially in today’s film market environment.

So where do you find all this data? Here’s some links where you can do your own research, although I recommend hiring a company like Film Profit to get you the data you need. Every hour you spend crunching numbers and doing research on the internet is one less hour you have to raise money with, so hiring a professional team like Film Profit makes total sense.

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