We have a calendar year, a financial year, and a year of the monkey. Why not a Hobbit year?
The Kinomatics project has been rethinking the use of the calendar year for the study of film exhibition. The calendar year has its benefits. It is easily justifiable, it fits with most other forms of data collection periods, and you don’t really have to explain its use as a temporal division. But does it suit cinema data? Cinema exhibition does not conform to the calendar year. Its temporal nature is quite different. As a result, we have chosen to abandon the calendar year.
The reason why the calendar year hasn’t been used as the basis for our research is its evident lack of suitability in accounting for big movie release dates. For many countries the day after Christmas (‘Boxing Day’) is a critical release date for blockbuster movies. Using a calendar year to determine industry performance means that a critical period for calculating showtimes and revenue is split between two different years (since the lucrative release period between December 26 and January 1 occurs in the previous calendar year). We wanted to remove this division (and therefore the calendar year) from our understanding and analysis of cinema data.
Adjusting our annual analysis to start on December 26 worked well for gathering data about most films. However, it failed to account for one extraordinary factor: the massive international release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The sheer weight of anticipation, marketing, international spread, and box office for this film compelled us to manipulate our year so that it incorporated a full, global Hobbit release – from December 12 2012 to December 11 2013. This also had the benefit of encompassing other major releases starting on Boxing Day. It is also extremely handy that the other Hobbit releases have had (and plan to have) similar opening dates – what a precious coincidence!
Much of our analysis is now based on our Hobbit year, including the Cinema Cities Index.