Who is really winning the box office?

Who is really winning the box office?

You have probably seen all those stories touting Guardians of the Galaxy as the biggest money making movie of the year so far.

You may even have thought to yourself, “I wish I’d had a piece of that!”

Well, while a profit (production budget versus domestic gross) of $111 million is certainly impressive (and there is more to come), it only puts it fifth so far on our list of most profitable movies of 2014:


Yes, it’s beaten by the following:

  1. The Lego Movie ($198 million profit)
  2. 22 Jump Street ($141m profit)
  3. Neighbors ($132m profit)
  4. The Fault in Our Stars ($113m profit)

It is likely to pass $300 million dogro. Last year, there were four movies that did…and three of them went over $400m.

If we go back to the idea of investing, though, even these numbers don’t show you the whole picture.

Let’s pretend that you had a million dollars to invest in the production of a movie.

It’s just going to be the production budget: the studio will take care of marketing (and will get any merchandising money).

This is strictly an American deal…domestic box office only.

For your one million, you’ll split a share of the profit.

If a movie costs $100 million to make (so there were 100 one million dollar shares out there), and it dogroed (had a domestic gross of) $200 million, you’d get $1 million back for your investment.

Looking at it that way, Guardians is way down on the list…it cost so much to make!

You would have made a lot more money investing in Tammy, for example, which I’ve seen described elsewhere inexplicably as having “tanked”.

Tammy cost $20 million to make, and has dogroed to date $83.8 million…you would have gotten $3.19 million back for your investment of $1 million.

How much would you get back from Guardians so far?


Tammy would have been nearly five times as profitable for you.

Looking at movies that dogroed at least $40 million, here are the ones that would have made a profit for you, with what your return would have been:

  1. God’s Not Dead $29.4 million
  2. The Fault in Our Stars $9.42 million
  3. Neighbors $7.33 million
  4. The Purge: Anarchy $6.90 million
  5. Heaven Is for Real $6.62 million
  6. Ride Along $4.36 million
  7. The Lego Movie $3.3 million
  8. Tammy $3.19 million
  9. About Last Night $2.88 million
  10. 22 Jump Street $2.82 million
  11. Let’s Be Cops $2.5 million
  12. Lucy $1.98 million
  13. Think Like a Man Too $1.72 million
  14. The Other Woman $1.1 million
  15. The Hundred-Foot Journey $880,000
  16. Non-Stop $830,000
  17. Divergent $776,000
  18. Guardians of the Galaxy $650,000
  19. The Nut Job $530,000
  20. Captain America: The Winter Soldier $530,000
  21. Maleficent $330,000
  22. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles $330,000
  23. Rio 2 $280,000
  24. Godzilla $250,000
  25. Transformers: Age of Extinction $220,000
  26. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes $210,000
  27. How to Train Your Dragon 2 $200,000
  28. X-Men: Days of Future Past $170,000
  29. Jersey Boys $170,000
  30. Planes: Fire & Rescue: $160,000
  31. Blended $160,000
  32. The Monuments Men $110,000
  33. A Million Ways to Die in the West $70,000
  34. Muppets Most Wanted $20,000

Let’s also say that they take your $1 million as an investment…but don’t make you responsible for any more than that. In other words, if a movie isn’t at break even, you don’t have to make up the difference.

The following movies that dogroed at least $40 million have not made up their production budgets yet:

  • 300: Rise of an Empire 96%
  • Into the Storm 85.4%
  • Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit 84%
  • Noah 81%
  • Mr. Peabody & Sherman 77%
  • Hercules 71%
  • Need for Speed 66%
  • Robocop 59%
  • Edge of Tomorrow 56%

For this last group that made it on our list by having a dogro of at least $40 million, we don’t have reported budgets.

  • The Amazing Spider-Man 2 dogro=$203 million
  • Son of God $59.7 million
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel $59.1 million

Clearly, some of these are going to still make significant money, and there are big money makers yet to come in the year.

Looking at this list, though, the message is clear: the biggest budget movies would not always be the best return on your investment…even if they also make the most money.

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This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the  The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

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