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.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2
DISNEY

THE FILM

As a deeper Marvel Universe property, the first Guardians of the Galaxy looked like a box office gamble with its eccentric ensemble of alien-animal characters. But Disney knew from early on — before that film became a $773.3 million box office hit — that there was promise of a sequel. Not only did Disney CEO Bob Iger tell shareholders months before Guardians opened in 2014 that the pic had franchise potential based on test screenings, Chris Pratt and director James Gunn announced a sequel via satellite at Comic-Con 2014, six days before the first film opened. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 centered around Peter Quill/Star Lord’s long-lost father Ego, played by Kurt Russell. Audiences clearly wanted more Guardians: Vol. 2 enjoyed a domestic opening of $146.5M, which was 55% higher than the first film, and trouncing every other film that opened last summer. The picture’s final U.S./Canada gross was $389.8M (+17%), and it did even better overseas to land at $863.7M worldwide. That was 12% better than the first film’s $773.3 million. Pic landed a solid A CinemaScore, with 41% in PostTrak exits polls saying GOTG2 exceeded their expectations. The only thing that the Guardians franchise hasn’t done is crack the billion dollar mark, the true benchmark of Marvel superhero dominance. What is Marvel mastermind Kevin Feige doing to help that cause? Well, Star Lord and cohorts are key players in the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War on April 27, and Gunn will deliver an epic conclusion with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 in 2020.

THE BOX SCORE

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

THE BOTTOM LINE

Despite making more money at the box office than the first GOTG, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 generates a slightly smaller profit at $154.7M than its first chapter’s $204.2M. What happened? Participations went up between films, rising from $45M to $60M. In addition, because it’s a sequel, global home entertainment theatrical revenues declined between titles by 43%, from $237.4M (including digital VOD) to $134.8M. Still, GOTG2 walks away with a very similar cash-on-cash return of 1.3.