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Year in Review: Movies You Should Have Invested In

Some alarmists might consider the seemingly mandatory media coverage of weekend box office to be the true death of vital film culture, more money meaning nothing other than, well, more money. (See: Cosmopolis). Even for the sites that do it well, the figures are only good for so much. Generally speaking the most gargantuan hits of any year cost a lot to make so even when they're as big as everyone involves hopes they'll be (like Bond or the superhero epics they generally only return $4 bucks or so for every $1 they cost -- at least in their original window of money-making opportunity. Merchandising and sequels are obviously a reason for the gamble and will make you much much more later on). So I read through all the charts on Thompson in Hollywood's blockbuster box office wrap specifically with profit in mind. So here's what I've gleaned as the most profitable pictures of the year based on total global gross versus their budgets... Just for kicks I substracted $25 million of profits for promotional costs though as the article states that is on the low end of the typical scale. 

the biggest hit of the year everywhere but THE AVENGERS was also super expensive to make / market which cuts into your profit margins

But this approximate interpreted list by me still gives us a smudgy window view into which films really returned on investment for those who backed them. 

Ten Most Profitable?
01 The Devil Inside grossed 76 times its budget
02 Paranormal 4 grossed 23 times its budget
03 Magic Mike grossed 20 times its budget
04 The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel grossed 11 times its budget
05 Ted grossed 9 times its budget 
06 Ice Age Continental Drift grossed 9 times its budget
07 Hunger Games grossed 8 times its budget
08 Taken 2 grossed 8 times its budget
09 Chronicle grossed 8 times its budget
10 Sinister grossed 8 times its budget 

Channing Tatum's 2012 filmography grossed $587 million around the world

Best Lesson Learned: keep your costs low and your stars well cast (Magic Mike & Ted & Marigold Hotel & Taken 2)

No-Duh Lesson: low budget genre movies are, historically, a strong financial bet (Devil, Paranormal, Chronicle) which is why so many actors and directs get their start in them

Soul-Crushing Lesson We Learned Again: Keep delivering what people already like (Ice Age, Taken 2, Paranormal 4, Devil Inside... not part of an official franchise but there are a bajillion possession movies and people always pay money to see them)

the #1 global top grosser that was in no way a franchise (unless you view Pixar as one continuous franchise10 Biggest Global Hits of 2012
01 The Avengers ($1.51 billion)
02 The Dark Knight Rises ($1.08 billion)
03 Skyfall ($1.02 billion)
04 The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey ($.8 billion) -- this is why we will get a lot more padding so movies can be divvied up for even more profit. Soon 2 hours of story will make 4 or 5 films (pt 1)
05 Ice Age Continental Drift ($.8 billion)
06 Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 ($.8 billion)  -- this is why we will get a lot more padding so movies can be divvied up  for even more profit. Soon 2 hours of story will make 4 or 5 films (pt 2) 
07 Spider-Man ($.7 billion) --  this is why we will get a lot more instant reboots of big hits. *sigh*
08 Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted ($.7 billion)
09 Hunger Games ($.6 billion)
10 Men in Black 3 ($.6 billion)

runner upBrave ($.535 billion)

* I think it's worth noting that Prometheus, which earned $402 million globally, and is therefore not too far outside this list is a much bigger hit than people have assumed based on media coverage of it as a "disappointment" and "flop". When something underperforms in the US, people assume it was a flop. It wasn't.

Did you support all of these economies? Which of these movies would you have invested in if someone had asked you?  Don't all say Magic Mike at once. 

Previously on 'Year in Review' 
Water-Logged - major flooding at theaters
Michael's 10 - Moonrise, Django, etc
Beau's 10 -Cabin in the Woods, Bachelorette, etc
Interviewlapalooza -from Kidman to Cumming
LGBT Characters - from "Mitch" to "Silva" 
James Bond Mania -Bond Girl Reader Rank
Snow White the apple muching fairest of all
Overrated Amy Adams, superheroes, film critics
Nathaniel's Worst Cloud Atlas, Spider-Man
Summer Crushes Pt. 1 and Pt. 2

Best of the Blog from...
January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October and November

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Reader Comments (7)

I am so happy that "Magic Mike" was a financial, critical, and commercial success. This year was without a doubt the year of "least-anticipated-movies" wowing me. I found greatness where you normally wouldn't look for it:

Magic Mike: a seeming comedy about male strippers turns out to be a soulful, awakening experience

Hope Springs: the most atrociously advertised movie of the year pulled the rug out from under me with two brilliant performances from two awesome veterans.

Beasts of the Southern Wild: a movie about a five-year-old turns out to be more mature than most of the movies that came out this year.

Middle of Nowhere: a movie with all black actors turns out to be the most impeccably acted movie of the year and the most poignant and generously directed

Ted: who would have thought MacFarlane could be so un-chauvinistic and un-coarse

January 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBVR

Off topic, but I finally saw Silver Linings Playbook. I enjoyed it a lot.

However, I don't understand Jennifer Lawrence's awards buzz. She made the most of a role she was miscast in, I suppose, but I would give Bradley Cooper the Oscar for this movie before her. He was spectacular; he was the character. Tiffany, for me, was Jennifer playing the character. It was very "act-y." She was solid, but not Oscar-worthy by any means. And Robert DeNiro should not be getting all these nominations. That's all.

January 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip

missing ice age at #4 on the worldwide list.

January 7, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterben

I think Avengers toy tie-ins (hulk hands, lego avengers, etc) out sold Magic Mike brand tear away pants though. ;)

January 7, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbbats

I think we'll see another 6 of those Paranormal flicks, such a sure thing, profit-wise. Doh!

Been digging your blog recently btw; great, consistent content. You're one of the best around. Keep it up and happy new year!

January 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKid In The Front Row

Magic Mike: Though this film is well acted and with a good script, Matthew McConaughey owns it. He is utterly funny and soooo GOOD in this movie. Im glad that Magic Mike kicked ass B.O vice and hope for more movies in 2013 surprising me like this one

Paradis: Lost: A documentary I had low expectations to ended up being of one my 2012 favs. Its a must see doc. Its tragic, funny, sweet, beautiful, serious, corky and heartbreaking

I supported The Avengers, Skyfall, The Hobbit, Spiderman, The Dark Knight Rises, Hunger Games, Prometheus

Nathaniel: Is Zero Dark Thirty a handheld camera movie? If so I have to skip it because I get all dizzy with the handheld tech

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterManuel

In answer to your question, I would have invested in "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel." I'm a total anglophile and would love to keep seeing actors like Maggie Smith, Judi Dench and Tom Wilkinson in movies for as long as possible.

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterWayne

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