No. 16 ‘Spectre’ – 2015 Most Valuable Movie Blockbuster Tournament

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.

Sony Pictures

The fourth Bond film for Daniel Craig and the second with Sam Mendes, Spectre had the unenviable mission of following in the footsteps of Skyfall, which set the high-water mark for a 007 film by being the only one to exceed $1B in worldwide gross. The resources were there — $245M was also the most ever spent on a James Bond film.

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

The picture had some hardships, including Craig, interviewed right after the film wrapped, saying definitively he would not be back for another (he has a picture left on his deal), and the film opening abroad as the Paris terrorist attacks occurred in France. Stateside, Bond turned in a $70M opening weekend, and it finished with a $200M domestic gross, and $680M foreign. By comparison, Skyfall had an opening weekend of $88M domestic, en route to $304M domestic and $804M foreign gross. The picture before that, Quantum Of Solace, turned in a $67M opening weekend domestic, and grossed $168M domestic and $417M foreign. For full comparison, Casino Royale posted a $40M opening weekend, and did $167M domestic and $431M foreign. All of this seems fine, but the Sony hack bared deal points that showed the studio wasn’t exactly raking in the bucks, and this has colored discussion over where future Bond installments might land (Warner Bros is franchise hungry and eager to supplant Sony, though a re-up hasn’t yet been settled).

Sony and MGM split the production-cost funding 50/50 and then MGM takes 75% of the profit and Sony 25%, with the latter not getting a distribution fee on top of that, which is an amazing deal for MGM. The franchise producers at Danjaq, and the estate of author Ian Fleming, each has first-dollar gross positions. Danjaq ends up making about $50M and Fleming about $10M. Craig’s deal is not very rich – $7M upfront plus about $4M on the back end. At the end of the day, the net profit for MGM and Sony is $98M, with a Cash on Cash Return of 1.17. In the re-up talks, Sony has the advantage of incumbency, but also at the helm is Tom Rothman, an exec comfortable with hardball negotiations and an eye toward profits. By these numbers, anyone taking on the 007 property will be looking at working very hard for comparably small profits, when all the splits and payouts are factored in. It’s great to be able to say you have a big global franchise, but it’s all about the bottom line.

Sony argues that Spectre suffered from the fact that the value of the dollar was much higher than during the release of Skyfall, which the studio said puts their performance in the comparable category. Per our experts, the exchange rate does make it “harder” for Spectre to achieve as good or better than Skyfall in the international markets but it doesn’t make it $120M harder, which was the difference between the two films. Also, the domestic was $200M rather than $300M and that’s not due to exchange rates. The picture certainly had highlights: second grossing 007 ever, and it set UK records for biggest opening of all time and the biggest seven days in box office history in the U.K. Also, it turned in the biggest opening weekend ever for a 2D film in China.

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