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 Harry Potter and Twilight Saga cut the final books in its series into two separate films, studios learned that there is no reason to be in a hurry to wrap up a franchise, not when you can score two blockbuster paydays instead of one. That certainly was the case with Lionsgate’s decision to turn the final Suzanne Collins novel, Mockingjay, into two installments. Let’s see how that decision played out.
THE BOX SCORE: Here are the costs and revenues as our experts see them:
THE BOTTOM LINE: The hunger to see Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss Everdeen lead a revolt was evident when it became the top opening weekend of 2014 with $121.9 million of domestic gross in its first frame last November. The domestic box office reached $337M domestic and $420M foreign. The worldwide box office of $757M fell below the $865M gross of Catching Fire, the second film in the series. Maybe some of that reflected the decision to take a breakneck pace final book and milk it for two films — did Katniss empty her quiver of arrows in that first film? And Lionsgate’s structure means it pre-sells foreign which lessens risk but often ends with a studio leaving cash on the table, which is what happened here. But on the bright side, the budget was a tidy $140M, and outside of Lawrence, there was no crazy outlay of gross or cash break paydays. That leaves a $211.6M net haul for Lionsgate, or a high Cash on Cash Return of 1.74. Plus, one more final movie opening November 20.