Warner Bros’ latest visit to Middle Earth should generate $1.26B in revenues from all major sources — 3.59 times its expected costs — putting it on track to become the most profitable movie released in December, SNL Kagan says today. The research company builds a financial model for films by using early box office results to estimate likely revenues from theaters, home video, and free and pay TV deals against probable costs. To account for many variables it can’t ascertain (including distribution fees, interest, profit participation, and residuals), Kagan figures a movie will be profitable if expected revenues are 1.75 times higher than estimated costs. Those with a lower ratio but that are still higher than 1.40 times are in a gray area. Films below that are deemed likely money losers. By that standard three other December films will end up in the black: Universal’s Les Miserables ($396.7M in expected revenues/2.37 times costs), Weinstein Company’s Django Unchained ($473.2M/2.18X) and Columbia Picture’s Zero Dark Thirty ($230.7M/2.10X). Those falling short include: Paramount’s Jack Reacher ($253.8M/1.38X), Universal’s This Is 40 ($159.5M/1.14X), Fox’s Parental Guidance ($163.3M/1.12X), Disney’s Monsters, Inc 3D ($75.0M/0.77X), Paramount’s The Guilt Trip ($89.1M/0.57X), and FilmDistrict’s Playing For Keeps ($37.7M/0.28X). READ MORE »
Only four of last month’s 12 major movie releases are clearly destined to be profitable according to the latest monthly tally from SNL Kagan. The research firm says that DreamWorks Animation’s Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted should lead the pack with projected total revenues (at $783.3M) coming in 2.31 times higher than total costs (of $339.4M). Kagan forecasts each film’s revenues from all sources, except for merchandise and second-cycle TV sales. It compares that to all the expenses it can identify, except for things like distribution fees, interest, profit participations and residuals. Since Kagan can’t account for everything, it figures a film is clearly profitable if estimated revenues are at least 1.75 times estimated costs. Films with an expected revenues-to-costs ratio of at least 1.40 are considered to be in a gray areas while those below 1.40 are deemed likely unprofitable. By that standard, Warner Bros’ Magic Mike came in second at 2.23 ($252.6M revenues to $113.5M costs), followed by Universal’s Ted at 2.20 ($439.4M to $199.4M), and Disney/Pixar’s Brave at 2.11 ($788.9M to $374.1M). Those on the bubble are Lionsgate’s Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection at 1.57 ($91.2M to $58.3M), Fox’s Prometheus at 1.54 ($450.7M to $292.0M), and Universal’s Snow White And The Huntsman at 1.52 ($531.4M to $349.7M).
It was a close contest but sci-fi/fantasy films came in second in the research firm’s analysis of different films’ financial performance in the decade from 2002 through 2011. Since analysts can’t tell how much studios spend for things like negatives, marketing, and DVD reproduction, SNL Kagan figures a film is clearly profitable if the revenues it can estimate from all sources are at least 75% higher than the costs it can calculate. Those with margins of at least 40% are considered to be on the bubble (profitability usually depends on specific deals the studios have with theaters) while movies below 40% probably lost money. By that measure, the decade’s 1,444 films were on the bubble with average worldwide revenues per film of $216.6M and costs of $133.3M, resulting in a 63% margin. The best investments overall were animated films that had a budget of between $90M and $100M: The five films in that category had a 292% margin. The worst performers were two westerns with a budget of $50M or less; costs ran 80% ahead of revenues.