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.
OK, so this wasn’t much of a surprise, given how Star Wars: The Force Awakens was a Death Star to every other film in the holiday corridor that ended the year. It broke just about every record in the book. Here’s how the numbers break out:
THE BOX SCORE
Here are the costs and revenues as our experts see them:
THE BOTTOM LINE
How about a $247M opening domestic weekend to kick things off? The Force Awakens became the top-grossing film in the Star Wars series; it became Disney’s highest-grossing film; and it got to $1B faster than any film, in 12 days. By Day 53, it became only the third film in history to crack $2B. It holds many other records, but let’s look at the bottom-line numbers. The film cost a reasonable $259M to make. Its participations reached $100M, which is less than Jurassic World, and with residuals and off-the tops, the number was $143.5M. The net profit to Disney was an astounding $780.11M, and the Cash on Cash Return was twice that of any other film in the tournament, at 2.00. Now, JJ Abrams is the one cutting the net for this tournament. He stepped into big shoes, replacing George Lucas, and helmed a crowd-pleasing film that celebrated the mythology of the original three films and got people largely to forget Lucas’ three prequels. But Disney chief Robert Iger deserves to take a bow here. He bought Lucasfilm for $4B, which was the same price that Disney paid for Marvel. That deal proved to be a bargain, and though on the surface there is less IP, Lucasfilm might well turn out to be the better deal. Disney and Kathleen Kennedy have engineered a long series of sequels and spinoff films, and the deal also brought with it the Indiana Jones franchise, which is gearing back up with Steven Spielberg likely directing. There’s the expectation that Harrison Ford will be back as he was here and that Chris Pratt will be involved. These deals have set Disney up for smooth sailing for years.
Tomorrow, Deadline will release in one posting the financials on all 20 top films of 2015. Special thanks to Anthony D’Alessandro and Patrick Hipes for their help in preparing the tournament.