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 did an R-rated raunchy comedy about a couple battling with the frat house next door nearly crack the Top 10 films of 2014 with only a $268.2 million worldwide gross? Forget about keeping the music down, keep the budget low and limit the back end participants, and the profits matriculate. 

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

THE BOTTOM LINE: Our production cost estimate is $18M. Even factoring in a gross payout for Seth Rogen (who wrote and produced), Neighbors crushed it for Universal and Good Universe. Total revenues were $306M, while the total expenses were $169.99M. That left a studio net of $136.05M, and a whopping Cash on Cash Return of 1.80. The fact this movie made so much money on such a small budget is why Sony Pictures let Rogen and partner Evan Goldberg hold sway with their follow up film The Interview, and gave them the clout to insist that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un be depicted so closely. We all know what happened there, but outside of that, Rogen and Goldberg are pretty good guys to bet on. Their films are made so cheaply and there is always the crossover potential of a movie like Neighbors.

No. 12 – Gone Girl