Every year when the NCAA tips off its men’s basketball tournament, Deadline launches its own tourney to ascertain which film from the previous calendar year made the most money. The ticked for entry into Deadline’s Most Valuable Blockbuster tournament is domestic gross. The tournament started with the same seeding as the NCAA, but unlike this year’s bracket busting upsets, the early rounds were too easy to forecast. The ranking has further evolved. We started with the top 20 grossing films, but now we’ve changed that too.
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 uses data culled by seasoned and trusted sources.
This year, we’re changing it up, counting down from No. 10 all the way to crowning a champion. (See last year’s tournament here.). We’re also adding a report on the top five bombs, and we’ll continue to spotlight five cash cows — profitable titles that far exceeded their cash outlays.
The difficulty in determining exactly what talent gets after cash break keeps this from being a perfect science, but the aim is to demystify the process and make it clear that bragging about a weekend No. 1 finish, when it’s a small portion of budget and other costs, is often a hollow victory.
Let’s start this year’s countdown with No. 10.
Former Key and Peele star and creator Jordan Peele originally set out to write a mind-bending horror movie. But along the way he changed gears, delivering a socially conscious title (think Stepford Wives crossed with the Black Lives Matter undercurrent) that addressed the pervasiveness of racism in America despite the fact that President Barack Obama was in the White House for the previous eight years. Get Out tells the story about a young black man who goes to meet his white girlfriend’s racist family at their country house. A nightmare ensues. Released during the final weekend of February right after Donald Trump was sworn in, Get Out took on greater resonance with audiences with the divisiveness that followed.
Made for $4.5 million, Universal and Blumhouse launched Get Out at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival as the event’s surprise premiere, triggering huge word of mouth and a 100% Rotten Tomatoes score before opening to a great $33.3M at the domestic B.O. Most horror movies are front-loaded — both on their Friday nights and during their opening weekends — with at least a 60% drop in their second weekends. Not this film: Get Out posted a 17% rise between its first Friday and Saturday and a phenomenal 15% dip in its second weekend, ultimately generating a 5.2x domestic multiple of $176M and a $255M global worldwide haul, an anomaly for a horror movie. Get Out‘s heat wave continued well beyond its U.S./Canada run, garnering four Oscar nominations including Best Picture and an Original Screenplay win for Peele, who became the first African American ever to win in that category. His next movie won’t carry the low profit payout that Get Out did: you can bet that Peele is getting much more guaranteed upfront income and better terms. After all, he was a big name in comedy making his feature directing debut on a genre film.
THE BOX SCORE
Here are the costs and revenues as our experts see them:
THE BOTTOM LINE
Get Out generated an enormous profit of $124.8M, a figure that’s bigger than the profitable returns of other recent low-budget horror movies like The Conjuring 2 ($98.3M) and Purge: Election Year ($44.6M) in previous touranments. Much of this has to do with the pic maintaining a low bottom line. Universal didn’t cheap out on selling the movie with $77M in global P&A, which includes an awards push over the last five months. Most of the titles in this tournament will clear well over $100M in home entertainment revenues, but genre titles such as Get Out earn significantly less on digital and physical DVD. The pic’s $34.3M gross home revenue stream is in between Purge: Election Year’s $23M and Conjuring 2‘s $51M. The pic’s cash-on-cash return is a great 2.01, meaning Get Out’s revenue of $248.9M was double its overall theatrical and ancillary costs of $124.1M.