While studios tout records, market share and No. 1 status based on box office grosses, we thought it’d be a good idea to look at some of this year’s summer films (tentpoles and not) to see how their budgets stacked up against their worldwide grosses to date. These budget numbers do not include domestic/international marketing and distribution costs, nor do they take into account the splits with exhibitors, but they do give an idea of outlay and income. Bear in mind, that while some of the biggest offshore grosses come from China, the studios are only getting a 25% cut from that territory. Also, some of these pictures will end up doing well in home entertainment and may make a profit over time — as in, a few years.
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Here are some of the films we were able to compile from smallest to highest budgets with worldwide grosses (and percentage breakdowns) to date:
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Boyhood (IFC Films), released July 11
Worldwide gross: $28.9M
Int’l: $10M+ (35%)
Dom: $18.9M (65%)
Director Richard Linklater’s coming-of-age film follows a fictitious family literally over a 12-year span. The film was shot from May 2002 to October 2013 and according to Linklater, it cost $200,000 per year, bankrolled by AMC Networks. The IFC Films pic, which stars Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, newcomer Ellar Coltrane and the director’s daughter Lorelei, first debuted at the Berlin festival which gave it added appeal in Germany, and started its career overseas before being released Stateside in a platform rollout. The UK has also performed well, giving Linklater his second-biggest film there behind School Of Rock. In 10 overseas markets where Universal is releasing, it’s earned $10M+ to date. Profit maker.
The Purge: Anarchy (Universal), July 18
Worldwide gross: $105.1M
Int’l: $34M (32%)
Dom: $71.1M (68%)
This dystopian horror flick from producer Jason Blum — probably the most profitable filmmaker around — had a budget three times that of the first installment released in 2013. Those involved with the film told us it was around $9M. This one was was filmed outdoors and churned out quickly to capitalize on last year’s profitable hit which grossed $89.3M on a micro-budget of around $3M. This installment handily crossed $100M worldwide, quickly outperforming the first in many markets. It’s at $34M internationally to date.
Earth To Echo (Relativity), July 2
Worldwide gross: $44.7M
Int’l: $6.4M (14%)
Dom: $38.3M (86%)
This little picture which looked like a low-quality ripoff of ET: The Extra-Terresterial wasn’t expected to do much at the box office. Relativity actually acquired the film from Disney in 2013 after it was turned out and its producer Andrew Panay brought it on over. The distributor released it into the marketplace for the family audiences during a time there were only a few titles to choose from. After getting an A- CinemaScore, it quietly but steadily amassed its money and stands to make a small profit.
The Fault In Our Stars (Fox), June 6
Budget: $14M est. ($16M prior to tax incentive)
Worldwide gross: $287.5M
Int’l: $162.9M (57%)
Dom: $124.6M (43%)
Based on a best-selling book by John Green and fueled by his and his brother’s social media YouTube presence along with Divergent stars Shailene Woodley and teen hearthrob Ansel Elgort, this dramatic love story about two kids battling cancer beat the odds at the box office and surprised everyone with its opening-weekend gross of $48M. It didn’t hurt that the studio kept the budget tight, cut an early trailer (which was excellent) and let it ride. It did fantastic business in Brazil as counterprogramming to the World Cup, and recently opened strong in South Korea amid a field of testosterone-fueled local pics. The international total is now $162.9M. Highly profitable film for Fox.
Tammy (Warner Bros), July 2
Budget: $22M-$24M (net negative; WB claimed $20M)
Worldwide gross: $96.7M
Int’l: $13M (13%)
Dom: $83.7M (%)
The Melissa McCarthy comedy was helmed by her husband Ben Falcone from a script that they both wrote. McCarthy’s deal included a paycheck once the movie broke even. The film was ravaged by the critics and received only a C+ CinemaScore from its core audience. It was no surprise that this one played heavily to females. In fact, 24% of the audience was over 50, and 50% of the audience was over 35. If there is an older female demo, those films tend to play a bit longer which this one did. Germany/Austria were among the better plays for it overseas with about $8M combined. It has yet to rollout in Australia where Fox’s The Other Woman found some green. Yes, this pic of questionable quality could make a tiny bit of money and should have some life in home entertainment.
Think Like A Man Too (Sony), June 20
Budget: $26M+ (Sony claimed $24M)
Worldwide gross: $69.2M
Int’l: $4.2M (6%)
Dom: $65.1M (94%)
Critics didn’t like this picture much, but domestic audiences came to see it anyway, driven by the Ride Along street cred of Kevin Hart, director Tim Story and producer Will Packer. The first installment, released in 2012, was made for less than half of this one and ended up grossing more domestically — $26M more to be exact. This picture, like the last one, made roughly 95% of its gross Stateside as it was in a limited rollout overseas. Yep, this one made money.
The Giver (TWC), August 27
Worldwide gross: $35.1M
Int’l: $3.65M (10%)
Dom: $31.5M (90%)
No big international territories have yet opened so this one is at the beginning of its overseas run. The Giver is one of a handful of movies based on a young adult novel but didn’t have the star power of The Fault In Our Stars; this movie just opened but badly with Brenton Thwaites. Who? Yeah, exactly. Directed by Phillip Noyce and co-starring Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep with a bit of Taylor Swift, this is one book that probably should have stayed closed but let’s see how it does abroad.
Jersey Boys (Warner Bros), June 20
Worldwide gross: $62M
Int’l: $15.3M (24%)
Dom: $46.7M (76%)
Clint Eastwood — the king of the under-budget/on-time production. The old pro. Although its core audience seemed to like it, this Eastwood-directed biopic based on the wildly successful juke box musical of the same name about Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons never really hit the high note as everyone hoped it would. It opened to only $13.3M and its ultimate gross was as insipid as its key art, unfortuantely. I bet they’re kicking themselves for the expense associated with outlay of money for music rights. Eastwood’s best domestic gross as a director remains Gran Torino which opened in December 2008 and went onto gross $148M, but that could change when his highly anticipated actioner American Sniper starring Bradley Cooper debuts in December. Jersey Boys was positioned as a World Cup alternative overseas, but failed to reach beyond a tight core group. Not a money maker.
Lucy (Universal), July 25
Budget: $40M (per Universal)
Worldwide gross: $275.4M
Int’l: $156.8M (57%)
Dom: $118.6M (43%)
Writer-director Luc Besson’s last movie he entrusted to a big studio before he took full ownership of his titles catapulted its star Scarlett Johansson to female action hero status. Buoyed by her international imprint from all the Marvel movies she has co-starred in (Iron Man, The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier), Johansson took on the role with a vengeance. Universal wisely moved Lucy up by two weeks to take it away from the same weekend when Paramount’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles bowed. This one has performed equally well here and abroad (where it just passed the $150M mark). It’s doing especially well in places like France (natch), the UK and Germany with some territories still to come. Remarkably, it opened in Taiwan to a massive $70,454 per screen average. Besson had just been on a publicity tour there. Um, yeah. Tidy profit.
Sex Tape (Sony), July 18
Worldwide gross: $81M
Int’l: $42.9M (53%)
Dom: $38.1M (47%)
Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel, the same comedic pairing (and director) behind the successful Bad Teacher, failed to make it with domestic audiences, but it overperformed internationally with a current overseas cume of $42.9M. The studio shouldered about $70M+ in marketing and distribution costs with the bulk of it used to try to open the picture in North America. Diaz had a strong summer internationally, also showing legs via The Other Woman, especially Down Under. Sex Tape bows in September in key markets like the UK, France, Germany and Italy. It’s expected to get down and dirty in at least three of those. Hope for more when its leaked to home entertainment.
Planes: Fire & Rescue (Disney), August 24
Budget: $50M (says Disney)
Worldwide gross: $126.9M
Int’l: $69.3M (54%)
Dom: $57.6M (46%)
This seemed like a picture made for the home entertainment market. It opened to only $17.5M and grossed $57.6M domestically in its summer frame so the home entertainment business is where it should actually help make money for Disney. This animated film was a sequel to last year’s Planes, which grossed $90.2M domestically and $219M worldwide. This one took a nose-dive shortly after it opened, but will it make money? Important to remember that these films have a sizeable dubbing cost overseas. Home entertainment may be its savior.
A Million Ways To Die In The West (Universal), May 30
Budget: $57M-$59M (Uni claimed $40M)
Worldwide gross: $86.2M
Int’l: $43.5M (50%)
Dom: $42.7M (50%)
This one died early, thanks to Seth McFarlane’s ego. Yes, he put himself out there as a leading man and critics and audiences both turned up their noses. You couldn’t put enough lipstick on this pig to be called anything else but what it was — a scatological mess. Oddly enough, this picture did find an audience somewhere — over the pond and far away — in Germany where it surprisingly grossed about $8.4M in a roughly 60-day run, outgrossing pics like Divergent, Need For Speed and The Monuments Men which was shot in the country and had a big push at the Berlin Film Festival. There is no accounting for German taste. It won’t lose a lot and Media Rights Capital has a stake. A summer turd.
Sin City: A Dame To Kill For (TWC), August 22
Worldwide gross: $17.7M
Int’l: $6.9M (39%)
Dom: $10.8M (61%)
With only Russia and the UK opening, it’s just at the start of its international play. So … Russia, anyone? U.S. audiences hated this Frank Miller graphic novel adaptation for the sequel to 2005’s Sin City. And it had hard-nosed director Robert Rodriguez at the helm — he didn’t want to go to Louisiana so the production could get the tax breaks — while at the same time both he and Miller had significant profit participation. The Aldamisa production (which pre-sold the heck out of this lessening the impact of the big-bomb write-off) got the price down because of a unique arrangement with the visual effects company, Prime Focus World (it put in $12.5M). Audiences saw nothing new here and voted with their pocketbooks — it opened to only $6.3M. Perhaps it was just too long between the first and the sequel or the lack of quality, but this visual stunner was one of the biggest financial disasters of the summer … and the year. It’s best opening on rollout weekend was in Russia where Fox released on behalf of A Company; it’s now earned just under $6M there despite a homefield advantage with several Russians investing in the pic, including billionaire Oleg Boyko.
22 Jump Street (Sony), June 13
Budget: $65M+ (Sony claimed $50M)
Worldwide gross: $314.6M
Int’l: $124M (39%)
Dom: $190.6M (61%)
The biggest-grossing comedy of the summer — both domestic and internationally. After receiving a $16M-$17M production incentive from filming in Louisiana and Puerto Rico, its budget ended up, according to our calculations, around $65M+. The initial budget was north of $80M before the tax breaks. Add that same roughly $65M for marketing and distribution costs here and abroad and then you figure in participations between stars Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum as well as the filmmakers and you have an idea of the overall financial picture. This baby did what a sequel was supposed to do — make more money than the first installment. It was the big silver lining for the studio both here and abroad. It had big openings in the UK, Russia, and Germany where after five frames, it had grossed upwards of $14M. Its rollout started before the World Cup in the UK but saved major football markets for after the tourney — still to come are Brazil and Mexico. This R-rated sequel is highly profitable for Sony.
The Expendables 3 (Lionsgate), August 15
Worldwide gross: $91.6M
Int’l: $57.5M (63%)
Dom: $34.1M (37%)
How much did the 5 million-plus illegal downloads prior to the film’s release hurt this picture? How much was due to a tired franchise? How much was due to the quality (the lack thereof) of the film? Probably a combination of everything that brought this one to its action-hero knees with a mere $15.8M opening weekend. Hopefully, we won’t have to suffer through The Expendables 4: The Next Generation. No, Avi, no, it’s not a good idea. This Millennium Entertainment three-quel fell flat with U.S. audiences and the international crowd didn’t take to it as well as expected either. It opened at No. 2 in Russia which was the previous film’s second-best overseas market; it lost the race to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It still has China to come — the last pic’s best non-U.S. territory, but the piracy issue will be felt there – and franchise fatigue also seems to have set in despite a big grab for international attention at the Cannes Film Festival in May. Simply put: Big Budget Bomb.
Hercules (Paramount), July 25
Worldwide gross: $174.3M
Int’l: $103.3M (60%)
Dom: $71M (40%)
This grossed about $70M in the U.S., off which the studio gets roughly 50%, so the studio is hoping for a better overseas run (yes, it’s still playing there – and just passed $100M). Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson heavily promoted this picture around the world and worked his social media presence to drum up business. He has roughly 40M Facebook fans and 7.5M Twitter followers and that kind of footprint and engagement with his fans is a huge plus for studio marketers. But with audiences remembering the last lackluster Hercules title that starred Kellan Lutz, this one was a harder sell. The only thing that really sold this was … literally … The Rock, who was the biggest-grossing star internationally of 2013. Hercules was muscular in Russia with upwards of $20M and has yet to bow in China. Not yet enough to go into the black. Yet.
How To Train Your Dragon 2 (Fox), June 13
Budget: $165M (Fox claims $145M)
Worldwide gross: $594.6M
Int’l: $420.6M (71%)
Dom: $174M (29%)
Enter the Dragon — 2014’s highest grossing animated film to date. There were only a handful of animated films released this summer and this one from DreamWorks Animation (released by Fox) was the best of the bunch — both in terms of quality and box office receipts. It performed less well Stateside than the first Dragon did in 2010 ($217.5M vs. $174M). It was off 20%, but its overseas performance has been stellar, significantly up from $277M on the first to $420.6M on the second, a 51.6% jump. So much so that it bumped the stock price back up for Jeffrey Katzenberg after it bowed to terrific numbers in China. And that rarely happens since U.S. investors don’t necessarily rely on the long tail prospects of films overseas. The UK was also big for the Dragon with over $40M after eight weeks. The international cume, including non-Fox markets, was $420.6M as of Sunday. It will do well in home entertainment so we expect this to make some money.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Paramount) August 8
Budget: $150M+ net negative (Par claims $125M)
Worldwide gr59oss: $278.6M
Int’l: $112.3M (41%)
Dom: $166.3M (%)
Paramount released this sentimental favorite into the dog days of August, only a week after Disney/Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy bowed to a spectacular $94.3M. Along with the Turtles’ $65.5M opening, together these two pictures helped raise up the entire summer. The Turtles appealed across a wide berth of demos — not only to a new generation of kids but also to the older college and 35-year-olds who grew up on these endearing reptiles via TV. The earlier films were bigger domestically than overseas as is the case here, but the numbers are likely to get closer with some key European markets and Japan still to come. With a total domestic cume to date of $166.3M and an international score of $112.3M through Labor Day, this one – which should also do well in home entertainment – will serve up a profit for the studio on a half shell.
Guardians Of The Galaxy (Disney), August 1
Budget: $170M (per Disney)
Worldwide gross: $555.9M
Int’l: $274.7M (49%)
Dom: $281.2M (51%)
This Disney/Marvel title became the highest domestic grosser of the year after the four-day Labor Day holiday with $281.2M as well as the top-grossing picture of the summer Stateside. We bet IMAX is happy, having decided to book this one long and strong. Not only did this launch a brand spanking new franchise but it busted a seven-year industry record to become the best August opener of all time, surpassing Bourne Ultimatum by a long shot ($69.2M) with its $94.3M opening. Along with a strong overseas showing, especially in the UK ($41.2M) and Russia ($35.8M), the Star Lord rocketed past $500M and is still going strong. Despite the unfamiliarity of the GOTG characters to overseas auds, the Marvel brand trades heavily. And, China is still to come. As is home entertainment. Nicely done.
Edge Of Tomorrow (Warner Bros), June 6
Worldwide gross: $369M
Int’l: $268M (73%)
Dom: $101M (27%)
Tom Cruise’s sci-fi actioner — the tentpole from Warner Bros. that wasn’t — had an opening weekend gross of only $28.7M, even with 349 IMAX screens. At the end of its day, U.S. audiences got it just over $100M. The film also starred Emily Blunt and was written by Christopher McQuarrie who worked with Cruise before on Jack Reacher and Valkyrie. The question that arose after its lackluster bow is whether U.S. audiences are growing weary of the same kind of action shoot-em-up, explosions that they have seen year after year … and with the success of such fresh ideas as Guardians of the Galaxy and a successful re-boot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, one would think they are. However, this film also had strong reviews, and word of mouth helped it beyond just Cruise’s name which still has strength overseas where the film took 72% of its gross. Did great in China but bowed in its first 28 markets soft with only $20M. In Korea, it’s the No. 6 movie of the year – and the No. 3 Hollywood title with about $38M, which is good news. This one is not a money maker, unfortunately.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (FOX), July 11. Budget: $176M
Worldwide gross: $613.6M
Int’l: $408.1M (67%)
Dom: $205.5M (33%)
This one sprung into action immediately on its late night numbers in the states with a $4.1M haul at 10 PM on its way to a $72.6M opening weekend. The sequel climbed over $200M in August to bring its Stateside cume to $205.5M+. Domestic audiences loved this pic as it did 16.4% more business than its predecessor Rise of the Planet of the Apes — as well it should have given that it was a better film (Dawn‘s budget was 53% higher). It even played well Stateside during the World Cup finals. Of its worldwide total, it made 67% of its gross from overseas which, in large part, waited until after the football tournament closer on July 13. Its UK haul is impressive at nearly $55M and China just opened to $47M for an offshore cume of $408.1M. Besides the arresting key art for Apes, Fox fed over 100 international trailer version across YouTube with language subtitles driving views in all regions. So will this monkey make money? Yes, it should.
Maleficent (DIS), May 30. Budget: $180M
Worldwide gross: $753.2M
Int’l: $514.5M (68%)
Dom: $238.7M (32%)
Maleficent came out near the beginning of the summer to tap into the flux of kids into the marketplace that began their school vacations (at the time, 43% of kids across the nation were out of school). All fears on whether the marketing was too dark for most kids quickly subsided as the 3-D fantasy film ended its opening weekend with an A CinemaScore and a $69.4M haul. With a dearth of family friendly titles and Angelina Jolie as a very watchable character in the lead, this one played throughout the summer and ended up one of the few pictures to make over $200M domestically. Internationally, this one cast a strong spell to pull in over $500M, thanks again, to Jolie whose overseas imprint got a boost when Maleficent became the star’s highest grossing live-action film of all time internationally. It was also the title that toppled Frozen from its umpteen week perch at No. 1 in Japan. This one, despite Disney being banished from selling on Amazon.com, is a big home entertainment title. Profitable? We would think so, yes.
Godzilla (WB), May 16. Budget $195M (net negative cost) (those with a vested interest claim $160M)
Worldwide gross: $525.4M
Int’l: $324.8M (62%)
Dom: $200.6M (38%)
A terrific teaser and a giant lizard whose tail has been caught in a legal dispute for some time between production company Legendary Pictures and producers Roy Lee, Dan Lin and Doug Davison. If the plaintiffs win, it would cost the movie millions as, according to the lawyer for the plaintiffs, they were promised $1.3M, first-dollar gross and credit. Not so, said Legendary who is fighting back in a tit for tat that is as action-packed as the movie they’re fighting over. So how did this do at the box office? Depending on who you believe, and I’m sure the information will spill out at trial, this version of Godzilla had a net negative cost of about $195M. Then pile on that the marketing and distribution budget and you get an idea of how much financial weight the lizard is carrying around. The film, which had Breaking Bad‘s Bryan Cranston in one of the lead roles, opened to a big $93.1M but Warner Bros. ended up having to drag it across the $200M mark domestically. It fell hard in its second weekend (a substantial 67%) so all eyes turned to overseas markets. Yes, it did good in China, with the UK, Japan, Mexico and Russia among the other biggest markets. In Japan, it did about $28M where it was released by Toho. Oh, and yes, it spawned a sequel which no one at Legendary wanted us to report.
Transformers: Age of Extinction (PAR), June 27. Budget: $180M
Worldwide gross: $1.073B
Int’l: $828.8M (77%)
Dom: $244.4M (23%)
Accounting for about $29M+ in production benefits from shooting in Michigan, the Transformers’ budget ended up around $180M (net cost) with another $143M+ added in for marketing worldwide. In addition, director Michael Bay received 10% of first-dollar gross and others with the film — Mark Wahlberg, Steve Spielberg and producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura — all got some participations as well. Also Hasbro, the toy manufacturer that produces the product on which the movie is based, is also said to be getting 5%. Producer Don Murphy, who I was having dinner with one night many years ago when he bounced the idea of a Transformers movie off of me saying he was going to try to get the rights from Hasbro, got a producing fee and credit. That’s Hollywood, right? Shameful. So did this monster make money? It opened to $97.4M domestically. After grossing over $1B, uh … yeah. It ended its domestic summer run at $244.4M and made the rest up internationally (about 77% of its business) where it took off immediately in late June across 37 markets; mostly those less enthused by the World Cup came out to see it. It broke records in China with which it had many partnerships – and despite threats of pesky lawsuits – it ultimately overtook Avatar to become the highest-grossing movie of all time in the Middle Kingdom with $301M. It has remained the No. 1 film of 2014 in many markets but not in some key places like France and Korea where local films are seeing a boom time.
X-Men: Days of Future Past (Fox), May 23. Budget: $225M.
Worldwide gross: $747.4M
Int’l: $514M (69%)
Dom: $233.4M (31%)
One of the highest-budgeted films of the summer. It also had a large talent participation pool, but no first-dollar gross deals as we understand it (just similar talent deals to most large budget pics) so Fox did pay out a chunk of change. This one grabbed $90.8M in its opening Memorial Day weekend and $110.5M for the four-day to become one of the Top Five openers ever for the holiday. It ended up grossing about $233.4M after Labor Day. It exploded overseas where it logged $302M in only four day of release in 118 markets, taking the No. 1 spot in every market. In another example of savvy marketing from the folks at Fox, this one went big, well before the World Cup took hold and left only some Latin American markets for post-football. X-Men can boast the No. 2 Hollywood movie of the year in China with $115.4M. Other top markets include the UK ($45.7M), Korea ($33.7M) and France ($32.5M) K. The international cume is $514M. This one will also have a great life in home entertainment. Profitable? Hopeful.
Amazing Spider-Man 2 (SONY), May 2. Budget: $255M
Worldwide gross: $707.8M
Int’l: $505M (71%)
Dom: $202.8M (29%)
Not only was this a whopper of a production budget, but the marketing dollars that were spent were around $190M. About 65% of the first installment’s gross came from international markets. This time around 71% did as the domestic audience for this franchise is shrinking by the picture — it was the first picture of the summer but played out more quickly than the studio hoped. The last four Spider-Man movies all grossed more than this one did domestically, and all have worldwide grosses of over $750M. The first had an estimated $230M negative and went onto gross 65% of its worldwide cume from international markets. This one ended up with an international haul of $505M. China was predictably the best market for Spidey 2 with $94M – and it helped that star Andrew Garfield made the rounds in Beijing on a promotional push. The deals on this picture was structured in a way that it grossed just enough worldwide to save the current regime at Sony. Between the grosses of 22 Jump Street, Spidey, Heaven is for Real (the best-selling book adaptation from filmmaker Randall Wallace which had a budget of around $12M net after rebate and grossed over $100M) — along with other cuts the studio made in staffing– well, it all helped movie division post a profit of about $76M which was up 109.3% from 2013. Whew!
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