“I wonder how many films planes have been in?” said someone on a Key.Aero work call the other week. So we started digging. And then we kept going and going. Here are the very geeky results!
How many times have you been watching a movie and thought, ‘Ooh look – they’re getting on a Boeing 737.’ And then muttered, ‘Actually that’s the wrong variant for when this film came out,’ before having a quiet word with yourself for being a bit too obsessive about the details.
As aviation geeks, that’s basically us. So when someone piped up the other day in a Key.Aero meeting with a seemingly innocent comment about how many movies had actually featured commercial aeroplanes, what started with a throwaway comment snowballed into what you’re about to read. Quite frankly, we couldn’t help ourselves.
So sit back, get yourself a nice cup of tea in that Pan-Am mug you got for Christmas back in 2009, and settle in for the Complete Guide to Commercial Aeroplanes in Movies...
WHERE DO YOU START?
Fortunately, the internet is tailor-made for this sort of exhaustive research, so we set ourselves a starting point of movies from 1970 onwards, with the aim of analysing commercial aeroplanes in films over the past 50 years. Documentaries, TV shows and anything else like that has not been included – just movies.
We discovered that since the start of 1970, there have been 528 films released that – on average, that means that a movie featuring a commercial plane has been released every 35 days for the past half a century.
OK, that’s quite a lot. But which manufacturers are the most popular? So we looked into that – here’s what we discovered…
PLANES IN MOVIES, DECADE BY DECADE
As a percentage of those 528 films, commercial planes starring in movies can be broken down as follows:
Oddly, you can see that the trend for movies to feature commercial aeroplanes has grown massively in the past 20 years. In fact, there have been nearly as many films with passenger planes in the past two decades than there were in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s put together.
SO WHAT ARE THE MOST POPULAR COMMERCIAL PLANES IN MOVIES?
The most popular planes in movies, in order of the amount of films that they’ve been in, is as follows:
IT’S OFFICIAL: HOLLYWOOD LOVES THE 747!
It certainly seems that way. In fact, of all the movies featuring commercial planes, the Boeing 747 has been in 20% of them.
Here are some cool stats about the 747 and its starring role in movies…
THE BOEING 737 IS POPULAR, TOO
The good old 737 has starred in 70 movies. Oddly, it featured in one in 1970, not long after its introduction, but it didn’t feature in another movie until 1989.
SO WHICH MOVIE GENRES ARE POPULAR FOR COMMERCIAL PLANES?
Of the 528 movies starring commercial planes, 41% of them are in the ‘Action’ genre.
But (unsurprisingly), we looked further into it to see which movie genre was most popular with each type of aircraft.
The most common genres within each aeroplane category are:
Airbus A300: Action (44%)
Airbus A310: Action (66%)
Airbus A320: Comedy (36%)
Airbus A330: Comedy (35%)
Airbus A340: Action (47%)
Airbus A350: Crime (100%) – Only one film!
Airbus A380: Drama & Comedy (27%)
Boeing 707: Action (34%)
Boeing 720: Comedy, Drama and Crime (25%)
Boeing 727: Action (39%)
Boeing 737: Action (37%)
Boeing 747: Action (46%)
Boeing 757: Action & Comedy (41%)
Boeing 767: Comedy (43%)
Boeing 777: Action (47%)
McDonnell Douglas DC-9: Action (53%)
McDonnell Douglas DC-10: Action (50%)
Lockheed L-1011 Tristar: Action (46%)
SHOW ME THE MONEY (AT THE BOX OFFICE)
By this point we were in way too deep. But that’s no reason to stop, is it? So we wondered how much box office cash these aeroplanes types had helped to make.
We looked at the two most popular types in movies, the 747 and 737. Unsurprisingly, given its popularity, films featuring the 747 have made significantly more at the box office than films featuring the 737:
Now, let’s say that the average cost of a Boeing 737 is £69,000,000. This means that 102 737s could be purchased using the total money made from box office sales it was involved in.
In comparison, a 747 might cost around £323,600,000 to buy. This means that 51 747s could be bought with the total money made from box office sales.
The average salary for a Boeing 747 pilot is:
- Long Haul Captain: £160,000 per year
- Long Haul First Officer: £120,000 per year
That means that the box office sales made from films including the 747 could pay the salary of a long haul captain for 103,171 years and a long haul first officer’s salary for 137,562 years.
Comparatively, the average maximum salary for a Boeing 737 pilot is:
- Short Haul Captain: £130,000 per year
- Short Haul First Officer: £70,000 per year
- The box office sales made from films with the 737 could pay the salary of a short haul captain for 54,155 years and a short haul first officer for 100,573 years.
Finally, we all know Ryanair loves the Boeing 737, with it being the only type in its fleet. With the money made from the 737 films, Michael O’Leary’s salary (average of £3.1m per year) could be paid for 2,271 years.
Quite honestly, at this point, we had to go and have a lie-down…