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 SPONGEBOB MOVIE: SPONGE OUT OF WATER
Paramount

Rank 15THE FILM
After turning out a 2004 hit, Paramount got a second squeeze from The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, picking up the high jinks of the signature Nickelodeon franchise and its silly creatures of the deep. When you spend $74M on a film like this and watch it open with a $55M gross, your first question is, why did it take over a decade to make another when the first grossed $140M worldwide on a $30M budget and Paramount has been hungry for franchises and for ways to exploit those Nick brands?

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

THE BOTTOM LINE
A bright spot in a trying year for Paramount, SpongeBob became the second-highest-grossing animated film off an animated TV show, falling only behind The Simpsons Movie. It was the fifth-highest-grossing animated film of 2015. Our experts say that the backend on this film was mainly limited to box office bonuses for TV show regulars Tom Kenny, Clancy Brown, Rodger Bumpass, Bill Fagerbakke, Carolyn Lawrence, and Mr. Lawrence, which is one of the things that make animated films such a good business for studios. That would also have covered Antonio Banderas, who turned in a guest-starring live-action role as Burger Beard the Pirate (the mostly animated show always mixed in the occasional live-footage segment). Paramount wound up with a studio net profit line of $99.9 million, and a Cash on Cash Return of 1.42.