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.
Movie stars for quite some time haven’t been the catalysts for big box office results. However, auteur commercial directors have increasingly shown that they can pull in fans, and indeed the masses were waiting in the wings for Jordan Peele’s follow-up film to his surprise Oscar-winning 2017 horror hit Get Out. Similar to Peele’s predecessor, Us, was also a socially-conscious genre commentary, this time focusing on a black family who squares off with their sinister doppelgängers. Universal and Peele kept as much as they could under wraps in marketing, selling the movie in teaser posters on its imagery of gloved hands, gold scissors, and Rorschach tests.
On Christmas 2018, Universal dropped the first trailer for Us, which is uncommon for a horror film to debut its trailer on the holiday. The results were massive, pulling in 106M global views. The studio launched Us out of last year’s SXSW as its opening night movie. Universal has a track record for making event movies for diverse audiences, and indeed this was one with Hispanics and African Americans making up more than half of those who bought tickets. Originally projected to open around $45M, Us squashed that forecast with an amazing $71.1M opening over March 22-24, the best domestic opening ever for an original horror movie and an original R-rated movie (not based on established IP). Audiences graded Us with a B Cinemascore to Get Out‘s A-, however, that was because they were debating the ending as they left the theater. Still such division didn’t hurt Us’ grosses which came in just slightly under Get Out‘s ($175M to $176M domestic, and $255.1M to $255.4M WW).
THE BOX SCORE
Here are the costs and revenues as our experts see them:
THE BOTTOM LINE
Peele had the opportunity under his new first look deal at Universal to make a bigger movie, hence the net production cost for Us was $20M as opposed to Get Out‘s thrifty $4.5M. Universal spared no expense promoting the movie at $75M global, a similar cost to Get Out‘s. We hear star Lupita Nyong’o received $1M upfront, but there was also a substantial back-end for talent and Peele here with participations estimated at $30M, more than Get Out‘s $20M. Us, with theatrical rentals (which are factored at close to 50% of WW box office), global home entertainment and TV monies saw $276M in revenue. Against total costs of $157M, the latest film which Peele directed, wrote and produced cleared $119M in net profit to Get Out‘s $124.8M.