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.



After about 30 years of attempts to turn Marvel Comics’ cosmic sorcerer Doctor Strange into a live-action feature film, Disney-based Marvel finally got it done. And pulled it off admirably, launching yet another superhero franchise that is more cerebral than most of the Marvel superhero efforts. The Scott Derrickson-directed film, with a script by Jon Spaihts, smartly started out with an origin story. Benedict Cumberbatch fit seamlessly into the role of Stephen Strange, a brilliant but arrogant neurosurgeon whose career is destroyed when his hands are mangled in a rare accident. That leads to a new path of sorcery and magic and world-bending dynamics that make neurosurgery seem like a lark. Marvel often pollinates its franchise launches with established characters, and they sent Thor to help. Let’s see how the fiscal magic unfolded here.


Here are the costs and revenues as our experts see them:


Kevin Feige’s Marvel just doesn’t miss when it launches franchises, even the ones that focus on secondary characters. This was a big swing at a $165 million budget, which was $30 million more than Ant-Man. It crushed the competition early last November with an $85 million domestic opening weekend that was fueled by strong reviews. Doctor Strange grossed $232 million domestic and $335 million foreign, with another $109 from China for a total of $677 million. Factor in about $38 million in Participations and Off-the-Tops, and that leaves Marvel’s parent company Disney with a net profit line of $122 million, and a Cash on Cash Return of 1.3. A nice welcome to the Marvel family for Doctor Strange, with a sequel and appearances in the upcoming sequels to The Avengers already in the offing.