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.


The Avengers, which became the third-highest-grossing movie of all time worldwide in 2012, is a hard act to follow. Joss Whedon returned to write and direct the sequel, with all of the Marvel superheroes in tow. And an ominous threat to the world in Ultron, voiced menacingly by The Blacklist‘s James Spader. Let’s see how the bottom line looked.

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

The film opened with a $191M domestic weekend gross, which accounted for 41% of all tickets sales during that weekend. That was the biggest superhero opening in the U.S. ever and second of all films, behind the final Harry Potter. Its $392M opening was seventh biggest of all time, all the more impressive considering that the Floyd Mayweather Jr-Manny Pacquiao fight was held that weekend. Basically, Age of Ultron finished just a shade behind the first Avengers film, which was the first Marvel movie to crack the billion-dollar gross mark, and this one cost about $30M more to make. In the billion-dollar stratosphere, it’s all relative. The picture finished with a $459M domestic gross, reached $706M foreign and another $240M in China. According to our experts, payouts to talent went beyond $100M, a perfectly respectable number. The picture created $382M in net profit for Disney, and a Cash on Cash Return of 1.58. Marvel is going right back to the well with two more Avengers sequels, these being helmed by Joe and Anthony Russo, who’ve helped Captain America soar.