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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Films With Biggest Returns On Investment

Deadline’s Most Valuable Blockbuster tournament is back. While studios during Covid wildly embraced the theatrical day-and-date model when cinemas were closed, they soon realized there’s nothing more profitable than a theatrical release and the downstreams that come with it. If anything, theatrical is the advertisement for a movie’s longevity in subsequent home entertainment windows. Entering the conversation in 2023 were the streamers, such as Apple, who have also realized the necessity of theatrical to eventize their movies. The financial data pulled together here for Deadline’s Most Valuable Blockbuster Tournament is culled by seasoned and trusted sources.

THE FILM

Anyone But You
Sony/Columbia Pictures
Net Profit: $103M

Sony development executive Maia Eyre brought this Will Gluck-Ilana Wolpert project into the studio. Mix in the genius, sizzling-hot pairing of Euphoria star Sydney Sweeney and Top Gun: Maverick‘s Glen Powell and you get a long holiday honeymoon for Sony in this romantic comedy revival. Although streaming has vacuumed up the genre, Sony believed that date movies still exist. Anyone But You opened under the radar over the four-day Christmas weekend to $8 million and yielded over a 10x multiple at the domestic box office with $88M-plus, and $219M worldwide. Sony pulled a page out of its Spider-Man: No Way Home playbook and had Sweeney and Powell do their interviews and social media stunts together, highlighting their chemistry and bantering. Sweeney’s social reach at the time of the pic’s opening was near 17M. Marketing costs were low on this at $65M global given the big push on digital and social, particularly TikTok, where the following pieces took off: the duo’s lip sync of Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten” (a near 28M views) and “The Dirtiest Pick-Up Lines” bit (near 25M). Pic’s pay-one is through Sony’s rich Netflix deal.

THE BOX SCORE

THE FILM

Insidious: The Red Door
Sony/Blumhouse/Stage 6 Films
Net Profit:
$92M

Despite bumps in the road during the production of this horror fifthquel, Sony Motion Picture Group chairman and CEO Tom Rothman remained adamant that Insidious: The Red Door stick to its post-July 4 weekend release date, sandwiched between Disney/Lucasfilm’s Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny and Paramount’s Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One. Red Door surprised, upsetting Indiana Jones‘ second weekend for the No. 1 spot with $33M stateside, that latter film deflated from bad word of mouth out of its Cannes premiere. Red Door also scored the second-best start for the franchise after Insidious: Chapter 2 ($40.2M). While Film District and Focus Features handled previous Insidious releases at the box office, Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group always had North American rights since buying the first title out of TIFF Midnight Madness in 2010 for less than $1M. James Wan, who directed the first two Insidious movies, pitched the idea for Red Door to Blumhouse back in 2018 to keep the franchise alive with a further string involving the Lamberts’ son Dalton, who starred in Insidious 1, 2 and 4. The idea was to bring the entire original cast back together including Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Ty Simpkins, Insidious architect Leigh Whannell and Lin Shaye. Wilson was able to pull off that feat and assemble the cast, with the Aquaman actor making his directorial debut here. Sony co-president Josh Greenstein built a campaign that included the gimmick “What’s Behind the Red Door?,” an outdoor stunt in various cities that went viral thanks to social media influencers.

THE BOX SCORE

THE FILM

The Nun II
New Line/Atomic Monster
Net Profit: $85M

This is evidence of how the power of a brand works at the box office through thick and thin. While several movies shifted out of the fall and late August due to the actors strike with performers unable to promote, New Line kept the sequel to its highest-grossing Conjuring movie, The Nun ($366M), on the calendar. People went, with the sequel about a demon-deflecting nun opening to $32.6M in the post-Labor Day Warner Bros frame for hot horror pics and legging out to $86.3M stateside and $269.5M global. The pic’s director Michael Chaves, after being discovered by New Line execs Walter Hamada and Dave Neustadter and assigned to helm 2019’s The Curse of La Llorona (Small Movie, Big Profits title from that year’s Most Valuable Blockbuster Tournament), was invited to take the reins here.

THE BOX SCORE

THE FILM

Scream VI
Spyglass/Dimension/Paramount

Net Profit: $60M

After rebooting the Scream franchise in 2022 ($81.6M domestic, $137.7M global) with stars from the original franchise plus new ones, and genre filmmakers Radio Silence in the directors chair(s), a sequel was quickly ordered. What sent this one to another stratosphere was the halo effect of its star Jenna Ortega, who was coming off of Netflix’s most watched series ever, Wednesday. The stabbing action saw her and Scream 2022’s star Melissa Barrera head to NYC for the first time in the franchise. Fans loved it enough at a B+, the same high grade as the previous Scream and still a best for the franchise. Big turnout by Latino and Hispanic moviegoers at 38% delivered the biggest opening for the Dimension series at $44.4M domestic, which yielded $108.2M domestic, and $169M worldwide, the second highest-grossing Scream movie ever after the 1996 original. Spyglass is rebooting this movie again for part 7, with the exit of Ortega and the firing of Barrera due to her online Gaza War remarks. The original franchise scribe Kevin Williamson will direct, with series OGs Neve Campbell and Courteney Cox in talks.

THE BOX SCORE

THE FILM

Evil Dead Rise
New Line
Net Profit: $46M

What happens when you take exciting movies and pivot them from streaming to theaters? You make money. This New Line reboot of the Sam Raimi franchise was destined to go to HBO Max, ordered up during the Jason Kilar-WarnerMedia era when they were pumping millions into original films for the service. Warner Bros Discovery boss David Zaslav has the studio shift away from that strategy (for the most part — yes there are exceptions of the reverse, i.e., New Line’s Stephen King movie Salem’s Lot transitioning from theaters to Max), with Evil Dead Rise being one of those titles. Warner Bros distribution and marketing execs noticed how the trailer for Evil Dead Rise electrified at CineEurope and opted to give the movie a domestic release; first firing it up out of SXSW. The pic got a B CinemaScore, higher than the 2013 reboot of Evil Dead which landed a C+. Every horror movie had a marketing hook that resonates and is creepy, re: the masked guy in The Black Phone or the wicked smiling people in Smile. Here it’s the evil mom, and the trailer where she’s trapped in the elevator. Evil Dead Rise opened to a solid $24.5M stateside in the face of a marketplace that was still being dominated by Super Mario Bros in its third weekend. Final take was $67.2M domestic and $147M worldwide.

THE BOX SCORE

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