#1 ‘Iron Man 3′ Vs. #16 ‘The Conjuring’
#2 ‘Frozen’ Vs. #15 ‘The Great Gatsby’
#4 ‘Hobbit: Desolation Of Smaug’ Vs. #13 ‘Oz The Great And Powerful’
#5 ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ Vs. #12 ‘World War Z’
#7 ‘Monsters University’ Vs. #10 ‘Thor: The Dark World’
#8 ‘Gravity’ Vs. #9 ‘Man Of Steel’
How They Got Here: Fast & Furious 6 is the last one directed by Justin Lin, who took this off franchise life support. His finale was the ninth-highest domestic grosser of the year and eighth-biggest worldwide grosser with a $789M global tally. It continued the momentum of Universal’s most valuable live-action franchise, and of course all this happened before the tragic death of stalwart Paul Walker, which has dramatically impacted the next film that will resume production at month’s end. Up against it is #11 grosser The Croods, another powerhouse animated film from DreamWorks Animation that got an Oscar nom for Best Animated Picture.
The Bottom Line: Both films are burdened by high production costs, with Fast & Furious carrying more in talent participations, and The Croods paying an 8% distribution fee to Fox. Our experts peg the Fast & Furious budget at $260 million, a huge number that is much higher than what the studio admitted to. The Croods tab was $175 million in production costs.
The Winner: Per our experts, this one turns out to be a close call. Our experts say that Fast & Furious 6 made $135.1 million profit for Universal, while The Croods turned in $106.5 million in profit to DreamWorks Animation. Given the durability of the race car franchise, I’m going to give this round to Fast & Furious 6.
How They Got Here: What can you say about a sequel that costs $76 million, and grosses nearly double what its predecessor generated? You’d call that the dream of any major studio. That’s what Despicable Me 2 did as Chris Meledandri’s Illumination Entertainment continues to be perhaps the most important addition Universal Pictures made to its studio since Lew Wasserman was calling the shots through oversized eyeglasses. It’s up against Star Trek Into Darkness, the last Trek film that J.J. Abrams directed before moving off to resurrect another space franchise in Star Wars. The Trek sequel didn’t do as well domestically — the original grossed $258 million, the sequel $229 million — but it did significantly better overseas, which is important in franchise building.
The Bottom Line: Star Trek’s sequel cost $190 million, per our experts. How can that film live long and prosper when that happens, stacked against a film that grossed twice as much, at less than half the cost?
The Winner: Another first-round rout. The good news for Star Trek is, even without Abrams, Paramount and Skydance are formulating another sequel and continuing one of Hollywood’s most enduring franchises. In this matchup though, it’s no contest. Despicable Me 2 is pouring off $394.5 million in profit, by our estimates. By comparison, Star Trek generated $29.9 million. At warp speed, Despicable Me 2 moves on.
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