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31 Days of Oscar 2017 vs. 31 Days of Oscar 2007


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Thought this might be an interesting comparison. So, I did a little numbers counting. Looking over the lineup for this year's 31 Days, it struck me that this year is maybe the biggest give-up in TCM history for the 31 Days format in terms of relying virtually entirely on in-library films that are shown year-round anyway. Maybe not as much as the first handful of years of 31 Days. I have no info about them. That was before my time as a TCM viewer.


I can't swear these figures are 100 per cent accurate. I triple-checked them, and they came out slightly different each time (my hat is off to MovieCollectorOH and his stunning database. I'm not going to pretend I'm anywhere near that accuracy). But roughly, let's say plus or minus a few numbers either way, here's the breakdown of which studio's films will be airing during this year's 31 Days:


MGM - 114

Warner Bros. - 82

United Artists - 38

RKO - 29

Paramount - 23

20th Century Fox - 12

Universal - 12

Columbia - 5

Orion - 4

Others - 18


"Others" includes ABC, Allied Artists, Republic (one Republic film, TopBilled, of course it's The Quiet Man), Selznick, Janus, Eagle-Lion and all the foreign films that didn't have an easily identifiable American distributor.


I think most stunning is the dearth of Columbia films this year. TCM has always seemingly had a pretty healthy relationship with Sony, and I don't know that this has changed necessarily. We certainly had our share of Columbia films in December including a half-Capra night and an airing of Lawrence of Arabia. But for this year's 31 Days, only five Columbia films. No Capra. Neither Lean Best Picture winner from Columbia. No On the Waterfront. No Funny Girl. Between 1934 and 1982, Columbia won more Best Picture Oscars than any other studio - a whopping 12 - but TCM is showing only one of them during this year's 31 Days, The Deer Hunter.


Anyway, you can see the top four studios represented are the four studios we see the most product from on TCM. And the weight of the scale toward MGM - roughly one out of every three films aired during this year's 31 Days will be an MGM release - makes it feel like the theme for this year's Oscars should have been MGM's Greatest Hits instead of A-to-Z. It would have been equally accurate.


Now, let's look back a decade to 2007 and this advertisement I stumbled upon doing random Google searches:




Now, let's break down that year by studio:


United Artists 63

Columbia 60

MGM 43

Paramount 40

Warner Bros. 29

RKO 26

Universal 24

20th Century Fox 10


Tri-Star 5

Orion 4

Embassy 3 

Others 31


"Others" that year included Touchstone, Disney, Eagle-Lion, Republic (I believe this year, TopBilled it was Quiet Man and Sands of Iwo Jima), Miramax, Dreamworks, Janus, Buena Vista and various foreign films.


A dramatic difference, to be sure. In 2017, Columbia gets five films the entire damn month. Ten years ago, they got 60! I think the first MGM film of the month didn't even get aired until the 4th. In 2007, MGM film accounted for only 12.5% of the total. In 2017, they account for 32.8%. Columbia, Paramount and Universal are all dramatically more represented 10 years ago, though Fox is about the same.


We never go more than a few months without someone (99.9 per cent of the time, it's someone supposedly making their first post ever) whining that TCM doesn't show the same movies it used to. Well, I'm whining that 10 years ago, TCM had an astonishing diversity in its 31 Days lineup, and this year is a dramatic give-up in comparison.

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i just perused a goodly chunk of the schedule and i'm surprisingly okay with it. i don't know why, but arranging the schedule alphabetically seems novel and i made it to the "I"s only rolling my eyes twice- once for GRAND PRIX and once for ICE STATION ZEBRA.


there was some watchable stuff strewn in there.

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Interesting find...


I didn't want you to think I was ignoring you, so I will post something here for now.


Near the start of my project, I thought about the various ways to pick out movies by studio.  IMDB has two fields, Production Company and Distributor.  Then there is the subject of Ownership (Warner Bros Library).  These are three different things to consider.

Going through those, the Production Co is usually the original owner, but not necessarily the current owner.  The Distributor has not necessarily ever been the owner, and multiple distributors can be found for different release cycles for the same movie (original release, TV release, VHS release, Laserdisc release, 1st gen DVD release, 2nd gen DVD/Blue-Ray release, etc).  Going by Distributors, it is possible for a movie to have entries for more than one Distributor, so it could get counted in more than one place at once here.

So that is why I haven't spent more time on it this way.  I just don't see any easy way to do this from a technical standpoint.

The farthest I have gone in quantifying "in-library" and "out-of-library" stats is to base it on Production Co.  That can be found in my reports #7-10.  (The rest of those reports are much more accurate, as the only attempt to quantify the entries is in the schedule itself.  Reports 7-10 still tell at least some of the story from year to year though.)


Here is an unofficial rundown (not mine!) on the Warner Library:



More thoughts on this later.

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