Breakdown of the box office: a breakdown


Well, we made it. After two years of weekly box office blackouts, this is my last.

Instead of breaking down this week’s top five (where “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” once again led the way), this final column will be more of a retrospective. Let’s take a look at the history we witnessed, the calculations we made, and think about the column as a whole.

Box Office Breakdown began at a precarious time. The first column was written in August 2021, well in the middle of the pandemic box office. “Candyman” paved the way, and it was the week before “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” hit theaters. While many films did well during this time, it was a deflated box office. The pandemic remained a major problem for theatrical exhibition, cinemas closed, moviegoers turned to video on demand and streaming platforms. It was a difficult period.

Then a hero intervened. While many say it was “Top Gun: Maverick” that saved theatrical exposure, it was really “Spider-Man: No Way Home” that brought big crowds back to theaters. It did well enough to become the third highest-grossing film of all time domestically, even amid the pandemic environment. Released in mid-December, it did well at the 2022 box office, helping it get off to a good start. Movies like “Uncharted,” “The Batman,” and “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” all did well at the start of the year. This continued with “Top Gun: Maverick”, “Jurassic World: Dominion”, “Minions: The Rise of Gru” and “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”. Then, of course, 2022 ended with a legendary series of “Avatar: The Way of Water”, which became the third highest-grossing film of all time. And what do we end this column with? An incredible run of “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” that’s all but guaranteed to top $1 billion in the coming weeks.

Suffice to say that over the course of this column, the box office has come back from the dead.

Often when writing Box Office Breakdown, I would estimate the break-even point of movies. This is a difficult task because public budget information is limited, but with a production budget estimate and an educated estimate from marketing, you can determine the break-even point for almost any movie.

It was one of the most popular items on the column, helping to get him cited on the Wikipedia “Encanto” page and also sparking a heated discussion on an MMA messaging forum.

What was the formula?[Text Wrapping Break]

Let’s take the production budget first — let’s say it was $100 million. For most $100 million movies, your marketing budget is probably $70-80 million, so let’s say $75 million. That makes your total estimated expenditure at $175 million.

Now with the revenue, for each movie you divide the revenue into three – domestic, international, and China revenue. Nationally, films bring in around 50% of box office revenue, with the remaining 50% going to theater owners. Internationally it’s 40% but in China it’s 25% unless a film is a Chinese co-production.

But in the calculation of break-even points, you don’t know anything other than these ratios and the estimate of expenses.

Below is the shell equation you work with each time.

You don’t have your ending income figures, but that’s okay. You can use the income ratio to determine how much he should earn.

Let’s say our sample movie isn’t released in China, which makes this part of the equation null. Let’s also say that this film has a domestic to international revenue ratio of 60:40. This means that your national income is equal to 1.5 times your international income. Using the substitution, you can enter that into the equation above and find that the international revenue must be $152.17 million. Then, with our previously calculated domestic to international ratio, we can calculate the required domestic revenue which is $228.26 million, adding an estimated total equilibrium revenue of $380.43 million.

Is this a perfect method? No, but it captures a large portion of the film’s spending and factors in theatrical revenue share, making it a relatively accurate representation of the earnings structure of the box office model. With this, you can get a pretty accurate estimate of a film’s break-even point, especially if you use domestic and international opening weekend ratios.

But why is it interesting? In the end, other than the C-suite executives, who cares whether certain movies are grossing enough to profit from? Shouldn’t the purpose of entertainment be just to entertain?

It’s true – the film industry often gets caught up in these numbers as the end of everything, being everything. Not all films need to profit from the box office, some deserve to be made for purely artistic or entertainment purposes.

What I hoped this column showed is that it’s not just numbers. Behind each number hides a story. Opening weekend gross, second weekend drop, needed multiplier, all-time chart placement; all these numbers say something. Combine the numbers with the story behind each film’s production and macroeconomic conditions, every weekend there’s something new to explore at the box office.

The ticket sales themselves are just incredibly fascinating data points. Teller information is one of the few public consumer statistics. People don’t just buy tickets on a whim; it takes effort – you have to do everything possible to find them. Every dollar earned on a movie means someone wanted to go see it. Numbers tell people’s stories – what they want to see, what they want to experience, how they want to spend two hours of their lives.

Although this is my last box office breakdown – it’s not the end of the box office.

We’ll keep rolling through the summer, with movies like ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’, ‘Fast X’, ‘The Little Mermaid’ and ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ picking up steam. storm the charts.

Which films will succeed? Which films will fail?

I certainly don’t know. Each week will bring something new, something fascinating to discover.

I want to thank all of The Daily Campus’ digital editors, designers and producers who have worked on this column over the years, correcting my mistakes and making it amazing in print and online. I would also like to thank my former editors Hollie Lao and Gino Giansanti for accepting and directing this column; it wouldn’t exist without your help and support.

Finally, I want to thank everyone who has read Box Office Breakdown. Finished minutes of your day, you took the time to read this column and for that I will never thank you enough.

Is this the end of Box Office Breakdown?

I don’t know.

Maybe it’s the end, maybe it’s a new beginning.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from two years of box office breakdowns, it’s that you just have to wait and see.

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