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 counted down the Top 20 and will present the data en masse Monday.


THE FILM: Did you think that this franchise had run out of steam? Not hardly. It was the only film that cracked the billion-dollar worldwide gross mark in 2014, helped by over $300 million in China revenue that made it the top-grossing film in China history. How did it fare on the bottom line?

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

THE BOTTOM LINE: Transformers: Age Of Extinction turned in a $245M domestic gross, did $545M foreign and another $301M China (Paramount kept $75 million of that), for a total of $1.09 billion. That is just short of the last installment, Transformers: Dark Of The Moon, which grossed $1.12B to become the first Transformers to crack the billion dollar gross mark. Paramount rebooted this franchise with new core characters led by the ever-reliable Mark Wahlberg. The first dollar gross positions of that actor and Bay meant big backend positions. But who’s to complain when the movie dropped $250.2M in net profit to Paramount, and a Cash on Cash Return of 1.42? When you see the returns on this and The LEGO Movie, it answers every cynic who asks why Hollywood studios are so obsessed with turning branded products into tentpole films.

No. 2 – American Sniper