It was a close contest but sci-fi/fantasy films came in second in the research firm’s analysis of different films’ financial performance in the decade from 2002 through 2011. Since analysts can’t tell how much studios spend for things like negatives, marketing, and DVD reproduction, SNL Kagan figures a film is clearly profitable if the revenues it can estimate from all sources are at least 75% higher than the costs it can calculate. Those with margins of at least 40% are considered to be on the bubble (profitability usually depends on specific deals the studios have with theaters) while movies below 40% probably lost money. By that measure, the decade’s 1,444 films were on the bubble with average worldwide revenues per film of $216.6M and costs of $133.3M, resulting in a 63% margin. The best investments overall were animated films that had a budget of between $90M and $100M: The five films in that category had a 292% margin. The worst performers were two westerns with a budget of $50M or less; costs ran 80% ahead of revenues.
Judged just by genre, average revenues for the decade’s 101 animated films ran 108.4% ahead of costs. DreamWorks Animation’s Shrek 2 led the category with a 462% margin. The 71 sci-fi/fantasy films had a margin of 108.1%. Fox’s Avatar is the winner here with revenues 554% ahead of costs. The decades’s 84 family films also were in the black with a 99% margin. Warner Bros’ Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 showed its magic with a 444% margin. Action, romance, drama, and comedy films were on the bubble. But horror, thriller, and western films on average probably lost money with revenues beating costs by just 33% or less.