Calculating the Return on Investment of This Year’s Oscar Nominees

Determining a movie’s ultimate return on investment is an imperfect science. To calculate ROI for this chart, Variety measured only a film’s production cost and its worldwide gross.

Other expenses that eventually must be considered include worldwide marketing and distribution costs, and theater owners’ cut — approximately half of all ticket sales. Additionally, returns from television and other platforms must be taken into account when determining whether or not a film will wind up being profitable. At this juncture, “The Martian,” in terms of pure gross ($608.3 million) and with respect to its financial return (four times its production budget), is the big winner. Moreover, “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “The Revenant” boast box office totals that dwarf those of “Spotlight” or “Brooklyn,” but those two low-budget dramas enjoy bigger profit margins.

FILM BUDGET/WORLD B.O. ROI
$109m / $609m 458%
The Martian
OSCAR EFFECT: Bragging rights. Already Ridley Scott’s highest-grossing film, the sci-fi adventure was largely out of theaters when Oscar noms were announced. It made 99% of its earnings before getting a best picture slot.
$28m / $113m 302%
The Big Short
OSCAR EFFECT: The financial-crisis comedy got a second wind following best picture recognition. It’s earned more than 30% of its Stateside gross post-nominations, and is still new enough to keep selling tickets as Oscar chatter intensifies.
$15m / $49m 224%
Spotlight
OSCAR EFFECT: The newspaper drama keeps chugging along. It’s been in theaters since October, but has continued to do about $1 million in receipts per weekend through January and February. It all adds up.
$11m / $33m 211%
Brooklyn
OSCAR EFFECT: A tender love story without major stars, “Brooklyn” needed to be in the awards race to break out of the arthouse. Like “Spotlight,” it’s the little movie that could, piecing together a healthy gross over many months.
$55m / $164m 198%
Bridge of Spies
OSCAR EFFECT: The Cold War thriller was a solid performer when it debuted inOctober, but wasn’t in many theaters by the time the Oscar race heated up. It recently debuted on DVD, and could get a boost on-demand if it scores prizes.
$150m / $377m 151%
Mad Max: Fury Road
OSCAR EFFECT: Vindication. Critics flipped for George Miller’s apocalyptic vision, but few expected it to win over Academy voters. The rare popcorn movie to score awards attention, it’s already hit home entertainment platforms.
$135m / $332m 146%
The Revenant
OSCAR EFFECT: In a case of perfect timing, the revenge saga went into wide release as it scored a leading 12 Oscar nominations. Now, a brutal action film that could have collapsed at plexes has a fighting chance of making a big profit.
$6m / $11m 87%
Room
OSCAR EFFECT: One of the lowest-grossing best picture nominees ever, “Room” has racked up more than half its haul since being nommed. The drama’s dark subject may limit its earning power even if Brie Larson wins best actress.

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