Small Movies, Big Profits: 2019 Most Valuable Blockbuster Tournament

Warner Bros./Neon/Universal/Sony

When Deadline runs its Most Valuable Blockbuster film profitability countdown each year, readers often ask about certain films that make big bucks but don’t make the list because they don’t hit the minimum on domestic grosses. Here are five pics that deserve honorable mentions for 2019. (The takeaway for all the overachievers: screw Disney.)

THE FILM

Escape Room
Sony
Total profit: $46.6M

(L-R) Jay Ellis, Taylor Russell, Logan Miller and Tyler Labine in “Escape Room” Sony

Timing is everything. Releasing a thrifty-priced horror movie during the first weekend of the year is apparently a good way to pull in the under-25 set that’s had enough of year-end blockbusters. Even with a B CinemaScore and middling reviews of 51% on Rotten Tomatoes, Sony made Escape Room on the cheap, spending its P&A on Xmas Day NBA games. It worked with the under-35 set. A near $34 million in China helped. A grand $155.7M box office yielded $135M in overall revenues. Subtracting an estimated $88.4M in global costs with $8M of backend outlay, the film sent $46.6M back to Sony. Not surprisingly, the studio tasked director Adam Robitel with an ask for Escape Room 2, set for release on December 30 this year.

THE BOX SCORE

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

THE FILM

Parasite 
Neon/CJ
Total Profit: $46.2M

Parasite Oscar Best Picture Winner Box Office
NEON

This class-war film was a world changer in terms of its Oscar victories in both Best Picture and International  Feature. Bong Joon Ho’s riveting, unconventional, socially conscious thriller about a poor South Korean family who turns the tables on the upper-class family they work for made a ton of money in the process. Its charmed run began when it won the Palme d’Or at Cannes in May, a first for South Korea. CJ, which handled global distribution outside the U.S., made Parasite Bong’s highest-grossing movie in his native country last summer with close to $73.4 million. Parasite arrived in the U.S. and Canada in early October and Neon’s Tom Quinn hit it out of the park. It opened limited with a $131,000 per-screen average (the best theater-average start for 2019) in the face of such Q4 art house competition like Jojo Rabbit, Uncut Gems and Bombshell. Neon took its time, avoiding a wide release until the pic racked up six Oscar nominations including Best Director and Best Picture. After noms were announced January 13, Parasite saw a 39% bump its total box office by Oscar night, making a solid $10M over that period. Its Best Picture win helped the film cross over with a 50% surge in its domestic cume post-Oscars to $53.3M, becoming the fourth highest-grossing foreign-language/international film at the domestic box office of all time behind Ang Lee’s four-time Oscar-winning 2000 martial arts epic Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon ($128.1M), Life Is Beautiful ($57.5M) and China’s Hero ($53.7M).

THE BOX SCORE

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

THE FILM

The Curse of La Llorona 
New Line/Atomic Monster
Total profit: $45.6M

New Line

Easter weekend is usually a good place to launch a tentpole. But last it year it fell on the weekend of April 19-22 — right before April 26, when Disney/Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame dropped. Sensing an opportunity, Warner Bros’ New Line launched this genre counterprogramming pic over the holiday with a responsibly priced $9 million effort produced by Conjuring maestro James Wan. No, the movie wasn’t a spinoff of that hit horror franchise, but Warners sure sold it like one, with one-sheets selling “From the producers of the Conjuring Universe.” They even had Annabelle priest Father Perez (Tony Amendola) genuflect in a cameo. A play toward Hispanic audiences, who made up half of the audience, delivered a great $26.3M domestic start before finaling at $68.4M abroad and $123.1M worldwide.

THE BOX SCORE

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

THE FILM

Yesterday
Universal/Working Title
Total profit: $45M

Yesterday
Himesh Patel as Jack Malik in “Yesterday,” directed by Danny Boyle Universal Pictures

In the first romantic comedy in the marketplace since Crazy Rich Asians, Danny Boyle offered up the fantasy of a struggling young musician with a golden voice, who after an accident wakes up in a world where the Beatles never existed. Universal targeted women over 25 in a superhero-laden summer as Sony’s Spider-Man: Far From Home was about to spin its web. Making up for Cats, Universal and Working Title kept the budget cheap with fresh-faced star Himesh Patel and burgeoning Downton Abbey and Baby Driver actress Lily James at $26 million, before a $65M global P&A spend. The numbers wound up working out in the studios’ favor with a $153.7M global result and $45M profit.

THE BOX SCORE

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

THE FILM

Good Boys
Universal/Point Grey
Total profit: $39M

Who’d bet against a raunchy comedy with a cast too young to see it? Universal continually proves it knows what audiences want with funny movies, and opens them to solid results, i.e, Blockers ($20.55 million), Night School ($27.2M) and Girls Trip ($31.2M). This R-rated movie from producers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg played straight to the sweet spot of 18- to 34-year-olds (67% of the audience) who hadn’t had a raunchy R-rated movie in a quite some time, and spent $21.4M on the opening of this one.

THE BOX SCORE

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

This article was printed from https://deadline.com/2020/04/biggest-movie-profits-small-films-2019-list-parasite-good-boy-escape-room-1202919181/