GHJ recently completed an in-depth study of key performance indicators (KPIs) in connection with theatrical motion pictures that were released in the United States in recent years. These KPIs shed light on the challenges and opportunities faced by producers, distributors and investors across the film industry. Overall, the various KPIs explore the general direction of relationships between performance and investment.

Our KPIs include:

  • Cash on Cash (revenue over distribution expenses and production costs)
  • Revenue to Distribution Expense ratios
  • Revenue by Media Market
  • Theatrical Expenses as a Percentage of Production Costs
  • Composition of Total Revenues versus Box Office Results
  • Average Theatrical Settlement Rates for Top 10 Foreign Territories

Some compelling observations that came out of our research were:

  • Our results support the industry consensus that motion pictures with High and Low production budgets tend to generate better Cash on Cash ratios. This could potentially be a major reason for the shrinking number of motion pictures in the middle budget category. At the same time, we noted that the higher the budget of the motion picture, the lower the ratio of P&A (Print and Advertising) to production costs.

  • In comparing the domestic (U.S. and Canada) to the foreign markets, theatrical exhibition appears to be stronger abroad; however, home video revenues tend to be stronger in the domestic markets. Furthermore, as expected, the foreign box office was higher than the domestic box office, while more film rental (or the net amount received from theatrical exhibition by the distributors) was generated in the domestic market.

  • The average theatrical settlement rate (or the ratio of the net amounts received by the distributor as a percentage of the box office receipts) ranged from 36 percent to 46 percent for the major territories, except for China, which averaged around 25 percent. Imported films in China received a flat 25% of box office receipts after the execution of the 2012 U.S. and China foreign producer treaty.

These KPIs, along with our other findings, can be useful for producers, distributors, and investors in understanding recent historical performance of films with different production budgets and chosen distribution strategies. This information can be leveraged in guiding decisions on future production and distribution deals.


To learn more about the research that was done, please reach out to Ilan Haimoff and Peter Klass from our Entertainment and Media Practice.

Haimoff Ilan halfbody

Ilan Haimoff

Ilan Haimoff, CPA, CIA, CFE, CFF, is the Entertainment Practice Leader at GHJ. His specialty includes profit participation and forensic accounting on behalf of talent, investors and co-producers at both the major and mini studios. Ilan has over 30 years of accounting experience in public accounting…Learn More


Peter Klass

Peter Klass, CFE, is GHJ’s Profit Participation Services Practice Leader and has more than 20 years of entertainment accounting and audit experience specializing in profit participations and contract compliance. Peter has extensive consulting experience in connection with complex profit sharing…Learn More