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.
If Chris Meledandri keeps this up, Deadline’s Most Valuable Blockbuster exercise might have to be coined the Meledandri Tournament. This is the second time one of his Universal-based Illumination Entertainment films has won this thing. The first time was in 2013 for Despicable Me 2, and he came in second the following year with Minions. This one was the fresh IP launch The Secret Life Of Pets. The film, about the misadventures of a group of house pets who get together when their owners are at work, brought Meledandri back with Chris Renaud, the director who helmed the first two installments of Despicable Me, and Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio, who wrote those films and co-wrote this one with Brian Lynch. Also back was Meledandri’s Despicable Me producing partner, Janet Healy. These were all relationships Meledandri forged while running Fox Animation. Man, how did that studio ever let him get away? The film featured a voice cast that included Kevin Hart, Dana Carvey, Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet, Steve Coogan, Albert Brooks, Jenny Slate, Hannibal Buress and Ellie Kemper. Here’s how the financials look.
THE BOX SCORE
Here are the costs and revenues as our experts see them:
THE BOTTOM LINE
The film opened July 8 and won the weekend with a $104 million domestic gross, and beat out Ghostbusters the weekend following. The Secret Life Of Pets generated $363 million in domestic box office, and grossed $446 million foreign and $58 million in China, for an $875 million total. How does that put it higher in profit than the handful of films that crossed the billion-dollar gross mark? According to our experts, Illumination’s secret sauce is its ability to generate quality family fare at a reasonable price point. Its total revenues were $691 million, but its costs were $316 million. That included a reasonable $40 million in Participations and Residuals and Off-the-Tops. That leaves a net profit for Universal that is $374 million, for a Cash on Cash Return of 2.18. That made The Secret Life Of Pets the only film to cross beyond the 2 threshold in that all important figure that tells Revenue against Cost. So according to our experts, that puts an Illumination once again atop the pile for most profitable film of 2016. This was a year in which Illumination stretched its output to two films, and the company wasn’t overmatched as both this film and Sing made the most profitable films list. Pets is also grooming a sequel. Tomorrow, the tournament will end with a look at all 20 of the year’s biggest winners.