Most profitable film genre named

Animation is top dog, but if you want to lose money make a western

Actors beware! According to the boffins at financial analysts SNL Kagan, animated films are more profitable than their live action rivals.

As reported by Deadline, the firm completed a careful breakdown of the cash generated by the various genres and compared them to costs associated with releasing a big movie. Animations were the most profitable genre.

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Based on figures collated from box office receipts between 2002 and 2011, the financiers found that on average revenues for cartoons ran 108.4 per cent ahead of costs. So they make around double the budget, which is very nice indeed.

Green appeal... 'Shrek 2' made a fortune (Credit: Dreamworks)

But Sir Ridley Scott will be pleased to hear that sci-fi and fantasy are also usually extremely profitable, averaging an income of 108.1 per cent costs.

The second-placed genre, unsurprisingly, boasts the most profitable film of the decade in 'Avatar'.  The record-breaking sci-fi returned a whopping 554 per cent of its budget, trouncing the top animation, which was 'Shrek 2'.

On the other end of the profitability scale are westerns, thrillers and horrors. The latter is surprising considering the low-budget success of the ‘Saw’ and ‘Paranormal Activity’ franchises.

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However, in all three of these genres revenues beat costs by just 33 per cent on average - and quite often they lost lots of money.

Dud genre... westerns often perform poorly according to study (Credit: Lionsgate)

The surest way to a box office dud in Hollywood according to the study is to make a mid-budget western (with a budget under £33 million). These films on average cost 80 per cent more than they actually made in cinemas.  

Of course, it's all based on averages - so one or two blockbusters could easily swing the balance next time.

Are you surprised animation is the most profitable film genre? Let us know in the comments section below.