How Disney & Universal Dominated Most Valuable Movie Blockbusters Of 2015 – The Data Behind The Dollars

Star Wars Movie Profit 2015
Photo illustration by Michael Willer

The big story from Deadline’s 2015 Most Valuable Blockbuster Tournament is that Star Wars: The Force Awakens won the crown with $923M in net profits (not including merchandising), with kudos to JJ Abrams and Disney. Minions came in second place, a strong finish for Universal and Chris Meledandri’s Illumination Entertainment, which won the 2014 tournament for Despicable Me 2.

What is worth noting here is how much profit came from the slates of Disney and Universal. Four films from each studio comprised the Top 8 finishers in the tournament. And wow, did they pour off profit. Last year’s winning film was Transformers: The Age Of Extinction, which generated $250M in net profits to Paramount. In the record box office year that was 2015, each of the top seven pictures in the rankings bested that number; Star Wars did well over three times more profit. This is extra cause for high-fiving today by the picture pickers at Disney and its divisions — Bob Iger, Alan Horn, John Lasseter, Kathleen Kennedy, Kevin Feige and Sean Bailey; and Universal’s Jeff Shell, Donna Langley and Peter Cramer and their production executives. The net profits realized by their top films is considerable. And, of course, 2015 will be a hard year for either of them to top.

What follows is the research we did that allowed us to name a champion among the 20 top-grossing films of the year at the domestic box office. While weekend standings have become an international obsession, the results really just scratch the surface about how a movie really did, based on costs and revenues.  Hopefully, Deadline readers got a lot of benefit seeing the numbers involved in the giant risks that studios take each weekend, and the vast sums that go into marketing them. It is still a wonderful business, and one of the few that can pour off cash in such high amounts, in such a short time. For the record, check out our full Top 20, with links to the breakdown for each movie, followed by the definitive chart of all the films for side-by-side comparison:

Deadline’s Top 20 of 2015

1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens — $923.86M
2. Minions — $502.34M
3. Jurassic World — $474.63
4. Avengers: Age Of Ultron — $382.32M
5. Furious 7 — $354.03M
6. Inside Out — $279.51M
7. Fifty Shades Of Grey — $255.46M
8. Cinderella — $164.77M
9. Hotel Transylvania 2 — $159.48M
10. The Martian — $150.32M
11. Pitch Perfect 2 — $139.64M
12. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 — $134.39M
13. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation — $109.80M
14. Ant-Man – $103.90M
15. The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water — $99.80M
16. Spectre — $98.40M
17. Straight Outta Compton — $91.12M
18. San Andreas — $88.07M
19. The Revenant — $61.6M
20. Home — $29.12M

Honorable Mention: Insidious Chapter 3, $44.79M; The Visit, $43.20M; Unfriended, $17.13M, Paper Towns, $14.38M; The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, $10.85M

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