Mike Fleming

We are down to the nitty gritty on Deadline’s search for Hunger Games Catching Fire Iron Man 3 Profit2013’s Most Valuable Blockbuster. This is the first of two showdowns today. Fueled by the numbers furnished by our insiders, we’ll find out just how profitable these movies really are.

DeadlineBracket_FinalFour

OTHER FINAL FOUR MATCHUP
#2 ‘Frozen’ Vs. #3 ‘Despicable Me 2′

The Matchup: This battle between Katniss Everdeen and Tony Stark puts the year’s highest domestic-grossing film, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, against Iron Man 3, which turned in the highest offshore gross.

The Box Score: What the numbers say.

Robert Downey Jr Iron Man 3

The Bottom Line: #1 seed Iron Man 3 got here by beating The Conjuring and Gravity, while #5 The Hunger Games 2 beat World War Z and turned in an upset by besting The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug. According to our experts, Robert Downey Jr received first-dollar gross at around $10 million against 10%, putting his payday around $73 million. The film was the year’s top worldwide grosser with $1.2 million and clocked in as the fifth-highest-grossing film of all time, trailing only Avatar, Titanic, The Avengers and the Harry Potter finale. It had the ninth-biggest foreign opening weekend of all time, and the sixth-largest worldwide opening ever. It completely righted the stumble that was Iron Man 2. On the downside, Marvel owed this movie to Paramount as part of that original financing and distribution agreement, so Paramount, which did the marketing and distribution, took in a 9% fee that amounted to $89 million. The film had a net production cost of $200 million, and the global P&A spend was $130 million worldwide.

Hunger Games Catching Fire Box OfficeThe Hunger Games: Catching Fire set records of its own. It crushed past records for a Thanksgiving holiday opener — both for weekend and the five-day holiday period. Its $71 million opening day was the seventh-best domestic opening single day total ever, and its $158 million opening weekend was the sixth-highest opening weekend in movie history. Because Lionsgate pre-sells foreign (much like New Line did for The Lord Of The Rings trilogy and Summit did with Twilight Saga), the mini-major doesn’t reap the full dividends of its international performance the way Disney did on Iron Man 3, and star Jennifer Lawrence was paid $10 million upfront against backend. Between her, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson and director Francis Lawrence, our experts place the participations at $21 million. The film had a net production cost of $130 million, and Lionsgate spent $50 million for domestic P&A.

The Winner: This is a tough one. On total gross revenues of just over $1 billion, Iron Man 3 generated $391.8 million in profit. On total gross revenues of $562 million, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire turned in $294.9 million in profit. So Tony Stark brought in the most profit, but Katniss Everdeen’s profit ratio was much higher. That is reflected in a Total Cash on Cash Return of 2.10 compared to Iron Man 3’s 1.62. There has been little talk of another Iron Man film, but this movie did more than any other Marvel movie to boost Marvel’s most important franchise, which is The Avengers. Iron Man 3 trailerDowney is expected to put the metal suit back on for those, and the over-performance of this film probably even helped other individual Marvel superhero films, which separately don’t have the same aura. Marvel is notoriously cheap and that might have to do with why Iron Man 4 isn’t being readied, but if their next movies somehow falter, they can always revive this series. On the other side of the ledger, Catching Fire set the stage for two more final chapters of The Hunger Games that will likely exceed the gross of this movie. Disney keeps all international profit, while Lionsgate presold international and gets less profit. IM3 added value beyond all this because the studio’s hand is strengthened as Disney re-ups its international television. These variables swing the decision to Iron Man 3, even though Catching Fire performed more efficiently. And honestly, would Disney’s $4B purchase of Marvel have been such a success if not for the Iron Man franchise that kicked off their partnership? This is essentially a pick ‘em, but I am picking Iron Man 3.

ELITE 8 RESULTS

#1 ‘Iron Man 3′ Vs. #8 ‘Gravity’
#2 ‘Frozen’ Vs. #7 ‘Monsters University’ Vs. #2 ‘Frozen’
#3 ‘Despicable Me 2′ Vs. ‘#6 Fast & Furious 6′
#4 ‘The Hobbit: Desolation Of Smaug’ Vs. #5 ‘Hunger Games: Catching Fire’

SWEET 16 RESULTS

#1 ‘Iron Man 3′ Vs. #16 ‘The Conjuring’
#2 ‘Frozen’ Vs. #15 ‘The Great Gatsby’
#3 ‘Despicable Me 2′ Vs. #14 Star Trek Into Darkness’
#4 ‘Hobbit: Desolation Of Smaug’ Vs. #13 ‘Oz The Great And Powerful’
#5 ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ Vs. #12 ‘World War Z’
#6 ‘Fast & Furious 6′ Vs. #11 ‘The Croods’
#7 ‘Monsters University’ Vs. #10 ‘Thor: The Dark World’
#8 ‘Gravity’ Vs. #9 ‘Man Of Steel’

For more estimates listed by title, see box office results here...