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.

Warner Bros


Suicide Squad is the second DC Entertainment film that Warner Bros has placed in Deadline’s top 20 most profitable films of 2016. That it bested Batman V Superman and its iconic characters with a far better net profit performance has to be very encouraging to the studio and the DC architects who are working on the sequel and spinoff films focusing on the misfit team of villains challenged to take a heroic path. The original was written and directed by David Ayer, the Training Day scribe who directed the WWII drama Fury. It starred Will Smith, Margot Robbie and Viola Davis. Let’s see how it did.


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


I liked Suicide Squad, a lot, and thought its introduction of each character was fun. But much like Batman V Superman, Suicide Squad became a punching bag for many fanboys and critics. That brings about a similar conclusion to Batman V Superman, and Warner Bros and DC’s reliance on auteur directors: Once these guys figure it out and start generating crowd-pleasing movies, one of these is bound to crack the billion-dollar barrier that they’ve previously crossed twice with the Christopher Nolan-directed The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. Backed by a disruptive and effective marketing campaign, Suicide Squad came flying out of the gate with a $133 million domestic opening weekend. But it came out not long after Deadpool, another super anti-hero film whose goofy tone and outlandish grosses set a high bar. The lack of strong word of mouth hurt; that opening gross accounted for 41% of its total domestic ticket sales. The film nonetheless grossed $325 million domestic and $420 million foreign for a perfectly respectable $745 million total on a $175 million production cost. Our experts peg the Participations, Residuals and Off-The-Tops at nearly $60 million, understandable given the marquee names and filmmaker. Still, Warner Bros came away with $158 million net profit and a Cash on Cash Return of 1.34. That is fine for a franchise launch, and the film did better than Marvel’s launch of Doctor Strange. As the architects of Warner Bros and DC’s superhero machine continue to hone the formula, there is encouraging evidence of a ravenous audience just waiting to be wowed.