This will end the top 10 Most Profitable, but the tournament is far from over. Also coming tomorrow will be a list of the five most profitable films that didn’t fit the criteria for inclusion in the tournament, but still made a disproportionately high amount of profit. Then comes our experts’ list of the five biggest losers of the year, the films that ended up precipitously in the red. Tomorrow we officially crown the winner, and present all of the cost vs revenues charts to wrap things up.
Disney landed its fourth film in the top 10, hitting the top spot with the Rian Johnson-directed sequel to the J.J. Abrams Star Wars relaunch in 2015. Even though it would be hard to imagine eclipsing the relaunch’s gross — highest domestic grossing movie of all-time with $936M and third highest worldwide with $2.07 billion — The Last Jedi continued Disney’s year end dominance, to the point where the studio is sucking all the oxygen out of the holiday corridor. Its $220M opening was the second biggest ever (trailing only the $247.9M opening of The Force Awakens). Johnson, who previously directed the edgy indies Looper and Brick, didn’t serve up a by-the-numbers retread here. He killed off a beloved original character and left more questions than answers about the connection between Daisy Ridley’s Jedi Rey and Adam Driver’s villainous Kylo Ren. Some felt the edge might have shortened Last Jedi‘s legs, but that’s like criticizing an Aaron Judge home run because it hit a light post and didn’t clear Yankee Stadium. The Last Jedi was an enormous performer for Disney, with a $1.3 billion global gross. While LucasFilm removed top-tier young directors like Colin Trevorrow and Phil Lord & Chris Miller from the helm of other Star Wars films, Johnson was subsequently set in a deal to create a freestanding Star Wars branded trilogy, taking place in another galaxy with new characters. Clearly, Lucasfilm believes The Force is strong in this one.
THE BOX SCORE
Here are the costs and revenues as our experts see them:
THE BOTTOM LINE
When Bob Iger agreed to pay $4 billion for Lucasfilm, even he probably didn’t imagine that profit from the first three films — Force Awakens, Last Jedi and spinoff Rogue One — would earn back close to 40% of that purchase price, with collective profits just over $1.5 billion. The $417.5M profit on Last Jedi is -46% from Force Awakens $780.1M. Participations and residuals total $98.7M, down from Force Awakens’ $143.5M, which were lofty in part from Harrison Ford’s big payday. Disney is right back at it with Memorial Day weekend’s Solo: A Star Wars Story and Star Wars: Episode IX due out on Dec. 20, 2019, with Abrams back in the driver’s seat. The cash on cash return ratio is a healthy 1.72. We can only imagine what the Top 10 will look like if Disney inhales Fox and adds its X-Men and other franchises to the Disney arsenal. Landing four films in the Top 10 is illustrative of Disney’s position as far and away the most dominant major movie studio we have seen in decades.