On Movie Blockbusters and RoI

A typical “blockbuster” movie – that is considered extremely successful – only makes around ten times its budget.

Or: a 1,000% RoI. (One thousand per cent Return On Investment.)

Now that sounds okay, right? Making ten times your money means you made a 900% profit, right?

Actually, Wrong.

Movies (on average… ) usually need to make about 373% to break even.

Also – many so-called “blockbusters” are not `blockbusters’ at all – but instead are massive flops and lose money.

7 in 10 films lose money…. (Ouch!)

Avatar (2009)

Some blue alien guys hiding in `Avatar’ (2009) ROI = 1175%

Let’s briefly look at the Most Profitable Movies, Based on Absolute Profit on Worldwide Gross:

Most Successful Blockbusters

Most Successful Blockbusters

Why are 2 of these films in green text? (i.e. Star Wars (1977) and ET (1982)?)

Answer – because they are also on this list:

The Top 20 RoI Films - StoryAlity Theory (Velikovsky 2013)

The Top 20 RoI Films – StoryAlity Theory (Velikovsky 2013)

And: this list – is possibly the list of films most worth studying if you are a filmmaker. (Or, are planning to become one).

It is the list of: the films that went most viral in the international culture…

These are: the most virulent film story memes. (i.e. That’s a good thing. As a storyteller, you want your messages to spread in culture.)

And furthermore: their story (in each case) is the key reason they all went viral.

And further still: they are actually, in about 30 ways, all the same story.

Also – this list is some of the data set, of my doctoral research study. (This list above is the top-20 RoI movies of the past 70 years. The other parts of the data set, is: the Bottom-20 RoI films… see the list below.)

Bottom 20 ROI Film List

Bottom 20 RoI Film List

When we do a comparative study of the Top 20 and Bottom 20 RoI films, some historic and surprising patterns result. (Keep watching this space…Or – by all means go to the weblog Index)

e.g. See, say:

StoryAlity Theory:

  1. StoryAlity #50 – The StoryAlity Screenplay Syntagm
  2. StoryAlity #51 – The Universal Story Structure – and Story Memes – of the Top 20 RoI Films
  3. StoryAlity #52 – The Golden Ratio / The Golden Spiral / The Fibonacci Sequence
  4. StoryAlity #53 – The StoryAlity High-RoI Film Story & Screenplay Checklist
  5. StoryAlity #54 – StoryAlity Screenwriting Guidelines – for any aspiring Writer of High-RoI Films
  6. StoryAlity #55 – Patterns In The Top 20 RoI (Return On Investment) Films: On Frequency
  7. StoryAlity #56 – Patterns in the Top 20 RoI Films: # of Scenes vs Film Duration/Screenplay Length – and: Elliot Waves

On Memetics and Cultural Evolution:

  1. StoryAlity #130Why Some Things Are Popular (Velikovsky 2014)
  2. StoryAlity #131 – Why Things (like, some Movies) Are Popular – and – The Anna Karenina principle
  3. StoryAlity #132The holon/parton structure of the Meme, the unit of culture (and narreme, or unit of story)

…Thoughts, Comments, Feedback always welcome.


JT Velikovsky

High-RoI Story/Screenplay/Movie and Transmedia Researcher

The above is (mostly) an adapted excerpt, from my doctoral thesis: “Communication, Creativity and Consilience in Cinema”. It is presented here for the benefit of fellow screenwriting, filmmaking and creativity researchers. For more, see https://aftrs.academia.edu/JTVelikovsky

JT Velikovsky is also a produced feature film screenwriter and million-selling transmedia writer-director-producer. He has been a professional story analyst for major film studios, film funding organizations, and for the national writer’s guild. For more see: http://on-writering.blogspot.com/



4 thoughts on “StoryAlity #17: On Movie Blockbusters and RoI

  1. Pingback: StoryAlity #31 – Which Screenplay `Guru’ Books To Read? | StoryAlity

  2. Pingback: StoryAlity #39 – The StoryAlity Movie-Story Study Methodology | StoryAlity

  3. Pingback: StoryAlity #76 – The `new’ Film RoI numbers at The-Numbers.com | StoryAlity

  4. Pingback: StoryAlity #27 – Narratology since Plato – a Brief Lit Review | StoryAlity

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.