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.

KUNG FU PANDA 3
DWA/20th Century Fox

THE FILM

One of the last animated films done under Jeffrey Katzenberg’s DreamWorks Animation regime in a co-production with Shanghai-based Oriental DreamWorks, Kung Fu Panda 3 brought back Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Lucy Liu, Seth Rogen, David Cross and Jackie Chan, and added Bryan Cranston, J.K. Simmons and Kate Hudson. The chopsocky-savvy panda battled an adversary that is defeating masters in martial arts matches, stealing their chi, and turning them into a small jade charm. Po mounts an army to stop the villain.

THE BOX SCORE

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

THE BOTTOM LINE

The film opened atop the box office last January 28, with an impressive $42 million domestic bow. Its ultimate $521 million global gross ($143 million domestic, $223 million overseas, and a strong $154 million in China) was actually the lowest grossing of the trilogy. The 2008 original grossed $631 million, the 2011 sequel surpassed that with $665 million. Still, the picture was a marginal winner for DWA and Fox, which distributed. Kung Fu Panda 3′s net production costs were $145 million, but even with the return of so much high-priced voice talent, the Participations and Off-The-Tops were a manageable $25.9 million. That left a studio net profit of $76.65 according to our experts, and a Cash on Cash Return of 1.23. Katzenberg said that a total of six Kung Fu Panda installments were envisioned, but the future of the franchise will be left to DreamWorks Animation’s new owners at NBCUniversal.