Indiewire’s Tom Bruggeman highlighted a disturbing trend in the 2023 box office, that almost all big-budget films are struggling to turn a profit. Only one of the 13 theatrical releases in 2023 with a production cost of over $200M was profitable after its theatrical run.
The “winner” was Marvel’s GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 3, which cost an estimated $250M to produce and grossed $845M at the worldwide box office. The convention in Hollywood accounting is that a movie is profitable once its worldwide box office hits 2.5 times its production cost.
Bruggeman also estimates that two of this year’s big budget titles, TRANSFORMERS: RISE OF THE BEASTS and ELEMENTAL, earned enough to break even. All ten other movies with $200M+ budgets were financial losers, including infamous bombs such as THE FLASH, THE MARVELS, ANT-MAN AND THE WASP: QUANTUMANIA and INDIANA JONES AND THE DIAL OF DESTINY.
This is a stark contrast with the year’s most successful films which include BARBIE and OPPENHEIMER, which each cost less than $150M to produce. Studio heads have taken notice and will likely pull back on spending to create new titles since it is clear that a big budget does not necessarily translate to a big box office.