Star Wars may be one of the highest grossing franchises of all time, but it’s not the most lucrative one. For those of you who slept through Intro to Macro in college, profit equals revenue minus cost, and your average Star Wars film, being the technological marvel that it is, costs an obscene amount of money to put together.
Although this revelation is nothing new, it was brought back to our attention through a recent study conducted by Forbes. Initially set on comparing the profitability of the Fast and Furious franchise to that of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the publication ultimately decided to go the extra mile and just compile all of cinema’s biggest treasure chests into a single, concise list.
On that list, Star Wars ranked fifth. Despite it being a cultural phenomenon of galactic proportions, the series was topped by other, equally titanic titles, including DreamWorks’ Shrek, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones, and Universal’s freshly revitalized Jurassic Park saga.
None of these, however, laid claim to the number one spot. And, with a return rate of 12.63 – which, for reference, is a solid four points higher than Jurassic Park, which is in second – the prize for most profitable film franchise of all time goes to…Despicable Me. That’s right. Apparently, Steve Carell’s animated adventure reached the top of the mountain when its third iteration raked in over a billion dollars at the box office nearly three years ago, and none of us even realized it.
In hindsight, though, the achievement should not come as much of a surprise. Illumination, the animation studio which produced every film in the franchise so far, including its 2013 spinoff Minions, is widely known for its ruthless prioritization of financial gain over creative integrity. Indeed, CEO Chris Meledandri wasn’t able to defeat an established competition because he only settled for nothing but the absolute best, but because he operated on unfathomably low budgets when compared to industry standards.
But while Star Wars may not have our wallets in the end, it sure has our hearts, and can Despicable Me say the same thing?