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.

MINIONS
Universal Pictures

Rank 2THE FILM
After helping two Despicable Me installments reach stratospheric profits for Universal and Chris Meledandri’s Illumination Entertainment, the lovable yellow Minions got their own spinoff film. Last time, Meledandri won our revenue tournament with Despicable Me 2, and at the time, Comcast’s Steve Burke called it the most profitable film in Universal history. More recently, he called Minions the most profitable film in the studio’s history. Let’s look at the bottom line:

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

THE BOTTOM LINE
Despicable Me was the first family film creation from Illumination, and it is the gift that keeps giving. Minions is the latest example of that. The key is the reasonable cost for animating these films from Illumination’s Paris headquarters. The production cost was only $75M, not that much more than the $69M that Despicable Me cost. That colors everything here, and our experts did not factor in all the revenues from merchandising or that theme park attraction at Universal. The participations are a very reasonable $40M, and residuals and off-the-tops were around $30M for a movie that brought in voice talent that included Sandra Bullock, Michael Keaton and Jon Hamm. Because all this was so low, and because the picture grossed $1.1B (the first in the franchise to reach that level), the studio net profit is an outsized $502M, for a Cash on Cash Return of 2.25. All that profit, and Minions didn’t finish first? What other movie could possibly have generated more profit and forced Minions to No. 2? We’ll reveal the winner in an hour, though if it takes you that long to figure it out, you’re not paying attention.