How Much Green Did ‘The Grinch’ Steal? No. 9 In Deadline’s 2018 Most Valuable Blockbuster Tournament

The Grinch Profit
Universal Pictures

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 for 2018, using data culled by seasoned and trusted sources.



While Illumination chief Chris Meledandri has made original creations a priority, the exceptions have been his Dr. Seuss feature adaptations, and the Grinch repped his third after Horton Hears a Who and The Lorax (both made at Fox). Unlike Ron Howard’s 2000 live-action take for Universal (that year’s highest-grossing pic at the domestic box office with $260 million), which focused on the commercialization of Christmas, Meledandri returned to the essence of the original Grinch story, a collision course between the Grinch’s cynicism and Cindy Lou’s innocence. With Benedict Cumberbatch as the voice of the green guy with the undersized heart, the tone was closer to the 1966 animated Christmas special classic than Jim Carrey’s manic live-action turn. The Grinch is an evergreen franchise for Universal, and the Illumination stamp sold audiences on a Minions-like humorous take on the character.

The Grinch launched November 9, ahead of other giant November Thanksgiving holiday offerings like Warner Bros’ Fantastic Beasts 2 and Disney’s Ralph Breaks the Internet. The Grinch opened to $78.2M domestic on the long Veterans Day holiday weekend, making it the biggest Christmas-themed pic opening of all time. It rolled out internationally shortly thereafter, grossing $240.6M overseas to go with its $270.6M in the U.S. and Canada. That bested holiday animated rivals Ralph Breaks the Internet ($200.9M domestic) and Sony’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse ($189.8M domestic). The Grinch’s $511.3M global gross far exceeded the 2000 movie’s $345.1M global take.


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


Unlike other animated and family fare, The Grinch is one of only two such films to crack the Top 10 of this year’s profit tournament. The Grinch‘s black ink at $184.6M turned in lower profit numbers than other Illumination hits such as Sing ($194.2M), Despicable Me 3 ($366.2M), The Secret Life of Pets ($374.6M) and even the Despicable Me spinoff Minions ($502.3M). The profits listed here do not include merchandising revenues. The lower profits on The Grinch were largely having to do with the fact that Dr. Seuss is not well-known outside the English-speaking foreign markets and Germany, hence the film’s overseas B.O. ($240.6M) trails that of other Illumination hits Minions ($823.3M), DM3 ($770M), Secret Life of Pets ($507M) and Sing ($363.7M). That said, Illumination built, and Uni sold, Grinch for a combined production and P&A cost of $196M, which is 12% less than the combined average production and global P&A costs of those four Illumination films. While the studio spent $121M worldwide in P&A on Grinch, it also received an additional $80M from 60 worldwide promotional partners. Marketing partners on the 2000 Grinch movie contributed $50M.

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