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. We’re counting down from No. 20 and will present the data en masse Monday.
THE FILM: The oversized reptile was brought roaring back into the studio blockbuster game by Thomas Tull’s Legendary Pictures. By the time the film came out, it turned out to be the final deal under a Legendary pact that paid a distribution fee around 8% to Warner Bros. The film came out with a roar, grossing $93.2 million its opening weekend last May. It was the first big film featuring Bryan Cranston, as he was hauling in just about every award for his run on Breaking Bad. Of course, when you hire a TV stalwart to anchor a $160M-budget film, that means you are not paying big bucks in actor participation, because the concept is the real star. How did that factor into Legendary’s revenue haul?
THE BOX SCORE: Here are the costs and revenues as our experts see them:
THE BOTTOM LINE: Another film that had billion-dollar aspirations because of the global brand awareness of Toho’s title character, but fell short. It certainly did better than the 1998 Roland Emmerich-directed reptile revival film for Sony, which was considered a disappointment. That Godzilla opened on a Wednesday making $62.6M in five days and grossed $379M worldwide and $136.3M stateside, on a $130 million budget. Legendary’s Godzilla did better for its $160 million production budget, grossing $528.7M worldwide, including China. Participation costs were minimal, but where Legendary got dinged was in the distribution fee it paid to former partner Warner Bros. According to our tally here, the film turned in a net profit just north of $92.3M. Subtract Warner Bros’ distribution fee of $39.8M, and that left a $52.477M net. Warner Bros co-financed 25% of the film, so it gets one-quarter of that fee, too, proving it’s always better to be the studio (Warner Bros makes $52.9M). Legendary ends up with $39.35 million in net profits. The cash-on-cash return is 1.12 — and Legendary likes these numbers enough to go ahead with a second installment, which, moves to its new partner, Universal. Not factored here is the ongoing legal dispute between Legendary and producers Roy Lee and Dan Lin, who were dropped from the producing roster and sued.