When it comes to evaluating the financial performance of top movies, it isn’t about what a film grosses at the box office. The true tale is told when production budgets, P&A, talent participations and other costs collide with box office grosses, and ancillary revenues from VOD to DVD and TV. To get close to that mysterious end of the equation, Deadline is repeating our Most Valuable Blockbuster tournament, using data culled by seasoned and trusted sources. We’re counting down from No. 20 and will present the data en masse Monday.


THE FILM: How could the adaptation of the Gillian Flynn novel have placed so high on the list when its worldwide box office of $368.1 million was around one-third of some of the films that finished behind it? It’s not what you gross, it’s what you keep.

THE BOX SCORE: Here are the costs and revenues as our experts see them:

THE BOTTOM LINE: Fox and New Regency rank No. 12 because they managed to generate a hot-button date-night adult movie with a built-in core book reader audience, on a disciplined $61 million budget. According to our experts, Ben Affleck had a first dollar gross position, as did director David Fincher. No gross for the lead role: every actress chased this role, and it was a star-making opportunity for the winner, Rosamund Pike. The author (who wrote the script) benefited from a cash break deal. That leaves the studio with $129.99M in net profit, and an enviable Cash on Cash Return of 1.49. The only better outcome here is if the film spawned a franchise; as a one-off, this is a smashing success and good enough for 12th on the 2014 most profitable films list.

No. 13 – How To Train Your Dragon 2
No. 11 – Neighbors