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: After establishing themselves with youth franchises Twilight Saga and The Hunger Games, Summit Entertainment and Lionsgate were determined to tap the same mine with the dystopian Veronica Roth novel series Divergent. How can a movie with a worldwide gross of $288.7 million possibly finish in front of comparative behemoths The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Godzilla and Interstellar? Let’s take a closer look.
THE BOX SCORE: Here are the costs and revenues as our experts see them:
THE BOTTOM LINE: Our experts say that the studio sold international for $65M, which left them almost no exposure on its $85M budget. They aren’t set up to self distribute overseas, and while they cover their risk, they also limit their upside, something that happened to the old New Line, which left a large amount of profit from The Lord Of The Rings on the table. Since the movie scored, that keeps it from being an even more outsized success, and they did make strong deals subject to the overseas gross on the film. Stars like Shailene Woodley were just getting started (her deal was made before The Fault In Our Stars), and so the cast and director Neil Burger were limited to bonuses on the backend. The studio nets out at $71.87M, which is a very healthy 1.40 Cash On Cash Return. Studios will take that kind of low-risk high-reward opportunity and we will find out very soon if Divergent: Insurgent grows the franchise as Lionsgate hopes. The sequel opens March 20.