When Deadline runs its Most Valuable Blockbuster film profitability countdown each year, readers often ask about certain wildly profitable films that didn’t crack our top list. So we’ve once again had five overachievers broken down by the experts; pics with production budgets under $40M.

 

ANNABELLE: CREATION
NEW LINE/WARNER BROS.

New Line

THE FILM

Horror sequels typically run out of gas at the box office. New Line’s The Conjuring is the exception.  Annabelle: Creation, the second installment of The Conjuring spinoff, earned $306.5M worldwide, +19% over its 2014 first spinoff. The low production budget of $15M before P&A made for a high profit/low risk success. The film launches its talent into bigger projects at Warner Bros. Walter Hamada (who oversaw this with New Line’s co-chief Carolyn Blackwood, as well as production exec Dave Neustadter) got moved to Warner Bros to oversee DC Films, and Annabelle: Creation director David F. Sandberg moves up to DC/New Line’s Shazam! while scribe Gary Dauberman moved from Creation to It (parts one and two), and he then wrote the next Conjuring spinoff, The Nun, which opens Sept. 7. Helping Annabelle: Creation work here is Warner Bros. marketing chief Blair Rich, who sold this sequel as a period title with the campaign slogan “You Don’t Know the Real Story”.

THE BOX SCORE

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

 

Universal

SPLIT
UNIVERSAL/BLUMHOUSE

THE FILM

Though 2017’s biggest genre success Get Out overshadowed it, the M. Night Shyamalan-directed film Split was also a tremendous success for Blumhouse and Universal. Shyamalan’s second film for the microbudget label grossed $278.4M globally on a $9M budget. That gross was 183% higher than 2015’s The Visit, which generated $98.4M in WW ticket sales. The film was anchored by James McAvoy’s portrayal as a villain with 23 frightening personalities, but the biggest surprise dropped by Shyamalan was connecting the film to Unbreakable, the Bruce Willis-Samuel L. Jackson 2000 thriller that was the filmmaker’s followup to The Sixth Sense. Naturally, the next installment of that film, Glass, is due out January 18, with Willis and Jackson reprising their roles. The most frightening number on this balance sheet is the $93M in participations and residuals, but that is in keeping with the Blumhouse formula that pays in success to established talent like Shyamalan and McAvoy.

THE BOX SCORE

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

 

Universal Pictures

GIRLS TRIP
UNIVERSAL

THE FILM

In a moment where raunchy R-rated comedies haven’t worked well lately, making one geared toward women and African American audiences was a gamble — witness the Sony flop Rough Night — but Girls Trip proved a raging success. Director Malcolm D. Lee delivered a grounded New Orleans road trip story with a starmaking performance by Tiffany Haddish alongside Regina Hall, Queen Latifah and Jada Pinkett Smith. The film became the first time an African American female screenwriter, co-writer Tracy Oliver, saw her film gross in excess of $100M at the box office. We can’t understate the influence of Haddish, shot out of a cannon the way Melissa McCarthy was in Bridesmaids. New York Times Manohla Dargis praised her as “the crazy snake in the can, the whoopee in the cushion and the movie’s biggest, rowdiest laugh generator.”

THE BOX SCORE

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

Wonder
Lionsgate

WONDER
LIONSGATE/PARTICIPANT MEDIA

THE FILM

Mandeville’s Todd Lieberman and David Hoberman sought to make the quintessential adaptation of R.J. Palacio’s emotional, best-selling novel about a boy with a facial deformity who braves his enrollment in the 5th grade at a mainstream school. The duo tapped their Beauty and the Beast screenwriter Stephen Chbosky to direct and co-write, as well as Owen Wilson and Julia Roberts, the latter who Hoberman worked with on Pretty Woman when he was the president of the Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group. Some credit here goes to Lionsgate film distribution head David Spitz who has a knack for selecting great release dates and in the case of Wonder he fearlessly went the counter programming route against Warner Bros./DC’s Justice League the weekend before Thanksgiving, and the sleeper film feasted over a long holiday run. Wonder opened to $27.5M, finished at $132.4M stateside and nearly $300M WW. Profit? An enormous $55.2M.

THE BOX SCORE

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

BABY DRIVER
SONY/MEDIA RIGHTS CAPITAL/WORKING TITLE

Sony

THE FILM

Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver proved that an audaciously stylized original caper film could steer through the summer marketplace and around all those blockbusters and find success. This was a full auteur turn for Wright, who stepped away from Ant-Man and returned to the passion project he parked with Working Title 11 years ago. The film fused the car heist genre with a great soundtrack of pop and standards, as well as a starmaking performances by Ansel Elgort and Lily James, surrounded by a terrific star ensemble. Long a niche performer at the box office with cult action comedies like Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, Wright delivered the highest grossing film of his career in Baby Driver with $226.9M WW. Media Rights Capital helped to mitigate risk on this $34M film by co-financing the TriStar release. It fit Sony motion picture chief Tom Rothman’s mantra for fiscally responsible, creatively reckless fare. This film reaped a $51.5M profit.

THE BOX SCORE

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