Top 20 Motion Picture Distributors of All Time According to SQL

I’m playing with some IMDb data and running various SQL queries on it using MySQL Workbench.

Apparently, at least according to the data set I have, there are 4 kinds of companies associated with filmed content on IMDb:

select * from company_type;


I wanted to focus on distributors first and get a sense of which TV and film distributors had released the highest number of projects. First, I calculated the number of distributors listed in the database.

select distinct count( as num_distributors
	from title t
		inner join movie_companies mc on = mc.movie_id
		inner join company_name cn on
		inner join company_type ct on
	where ct.kind=distributors;

There are 1,662,519 distributors! I’m sure a lot of these distributors are tiny flash-in-the-pan single-release companies, so I wanted to reduce this to the subset of distributors that have made a huge impact on filmed content. I decided to pull the top 20 distributors of all time, and I’m thinking I’ll know who these companies are.

select distinct as distributors, count( as num
from title t
inner join movie_companies mc on = mc.movie_id
inner join company_name cn on
inner join company_type ct on
where ct.kind="distributors"
group by
order by num DESC
limit 20;

Top 20 distributors of all time:

For the most part, this list looks right to me. CBS leads the pack by far- about 10k more pieces of content than the second leader, NBC. These two companies are the oldest existing television broadcasting companies, and TV puts out more content, obviously, than film companies do, so this makes sense to me.

ABC, then, a slightly older TV broadcaster comes in third, followed by the usual suspects of legacy film distributors like Warner Bros., Sony Pictures, Paramount, Universal Pictures, 20th Century Fox, and MGM.

But one thing surprised me. Who the heck is General Film Company, and how can it be that they’ve released more content (13,841) than Warner Bros.(12,158)?

Google and Wikipedia provided some much needed answers:The_Chalk_Line

“The General Film Company was a motion picture distribution company in the United States. Between 1909 and 1920, the company distributed almost 12,000 silent era motion pictures.”

Oh right…. The silent film era. That makes much more sense. It’s not only more expensive to release films nowadays, but companies release far fewer films now than they did during those early days of film.

I should update the Wikipedia page on General Film Company, though, to reflect “almost 14,000” as opposed to the “almost 12,000” motion pictures it referenced.


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