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 2019, using data culled by seasoned and trusted sources.
Even before she made a stirring directorial debut on 2017’s Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig had her sights set on remaking Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. First, she pitched herself and got the job adapting her favorite childhood novel. Later, armed with a fresh angle and Lady Bird‘s five Oscar nominations, she convinced Sony and producer Amy Pascal she was the one for the directing job. While the book has been adapted numerous times including a 1994 Sony version, Gerwig injected a Time’s Up sensibility about female ambition in a period of repression, anchored by Saoirse Ronan’s turn as a woman unwilling to drop her dream of being an author, even for the man she loved. The cast included Timothée Chalamet and Florence Pugh as well as Emma Watson, the latter of whom opened the door to her collective 118 million followers across Instagram, Twitter and Facebook platforms.
Sony smartly counter-programmed Little Women in the year-end holiday space dominated by Disney’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Pic targeted female moviegoers ages 7-80, and audiences embraced the film with an A- CinemaScore and critics with a 95% certified fresh Rotten Tomatoes rating. Little Women came out of the gate strong, and the pic grossed $108.1 million domestic and $206M worldwide. It got six Oscar noms including Best Picture, and won for Costume Design.
THE BOX SCORE
Here are the costs and revenues as our experts see them:
THE BOTTOM LINE
Sony made Little Women at an economical price of $40M, and the studio spent a total of $70M in global P&A; a third of the production cost was covered by Sony co-financing partner New Regency. The movie’s $208M in total revenues exceeded the movie’s global box office, and after $152M in global costs, generated a net profit of $56M.