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The Box-Office's Top 20 Films of the Summer Prove That Cheaper Is Often Better

By Dustin Rowles | Box Office Round-Ups | August 29, 2013 | Comments ()


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Below are the top 20 films at the box office this summer, ranked according to the domestic box-office haul. What does it tell us? Well, that technically, none of the top 20 made less than their budget (after worldwide grosses are accounted for), but as we all know, that’s not the whole story. There’s marketing costs, and exhibitors take a big cut of the profits, too, so a movie like The Lone Ranger, which made $230 million on a $215 million budget still has to take something like a $190 million write down. It also tells us that, once again, quality does not necessarily equal profit, Marvel made a sh*t-ton of money, and that you don’t necessarily have to spend $150 million on a movie to turn a huge profit. In fact, seven of the summer’s top 20 films were made for less than $100 million, and a movie like The Conjuring can make 10x its production cost if it’s marketed well, which is something that no other film on this list can boast.

As for sleeper hits? The Conjuring would definitely qualify, as would We’re the Millers and Now You See Me, which very quietly made $293 million worldwide, suggesting that though adult audiences are not that vocal, they should be respected.

What bombed this summer? A bunch of films with huge budgets, naturally: Lone Ranger, Turbo, Elysium, and White House Down. I’d like to include After Earth on that list, but even though the film made only $60 million in the United States, it pulled down $243 million worldwide (on a $130 million budget). It’s not exactly poised for a sequel, but it won’t put M. Night Shyamalan out of a job, either.

Keep in mind, too, that some of these movies are still in theaters and could climb a little (although, We’re the Millers is the only one still putting up substantive grosses), and that The Getaway has still yet to be released, a movie that is clearly headed to the top of this list with Selena Gomez and a 0 percent on Rotten Tomatoes behind the movie’s momentum going into Labor Day, the weakest box-office weekend of the year.


20. Turbo: $78 million ($148 million) on a $135 million budget.

19. The Lone Ranger: $87 million ($230 million) on a $215 million budget.

18. We’re the Miller: $94 million ($117 million) on a $37 million budget.

17. This is the End: $96 million ($114 million) on a $32 million budget.

16. Pacific Rim: $99 million ($397 million) on a $190 million budget.

15. Epic: $107 million ($253 million) on a $100 million budget.

14. The Hangover III: $112 million ($351 million) on a $101 million budget.

13. Now You See Me: $116 million ($293 million) on a $75 million budget.

12. The Wolverine: $125 million ($351 million) on a $120 million budget.

11. Grown Ups 2: $129 million ($186 million) on an $80 million budget.

10. The Conjuring: $132 million ($220 million) on a $20 million budget.

9. The Great Gatsby: $144 million ($331 million) on a $105 million budget.

8. The Heat: $156 million ($209 million) on a $43 million budget.

7. World War Z: $198 million ($526 million) on a $190 million budget

6. Star Trek: Into Darkness: $227 million ($458 million) on a $190 million budget

5. Fast & Furious 6: $238 million ($786 million) on a $160 million budget.

4. Monsters Univeristy: $261 million ($686 million) on a $200 million budget.

3. Man of Steel $290 million ($649 million) on a $225 million budget.

2. Despicable Me: $351 million ($806 million) on a $76 million budget.

1. Iron Man 3: $408 million ($1.2 billion) on a $200 million budget.


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