Forget Marvel And Star Wars—Jurassic Park Is Easily The Box Office’s Biggest Franchise

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Chris Pratt attending a photocall for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, held at the Strada, London. ... [+] PA IMAGES VIA GETTY IMAGES

As theaters slowly start to come back to life, moviegoers from around the world await the next step for several of Hollywood’s biggest franchises. Daniel Craig’s final stint as 007 will come with No Time to Die; the Harry Potter universe will continue to grow with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 3; the DCEU will add a Wonder Woman sequel to its growing lineup; and, of course, the biggest franchise on the planet, Marvel, will add two more films to its growing cinematic universe.

But as undeniably lucrative as all those franchises are, it’s doubtful that any of those new movies will be as profitable as Jurassic World: Dominion.

In fact, Jurassic Park is the most profitable franchise on the planet—and it’s not even close.

It’s truly miraculous how seamlessly the franchise transitioned from its monster original film Jurassic Park in 1993 to the multi-billion-dollar franchise that dominates the box office today. The Jurassic Park films have continually extracted the most value from their budgets, resulting in a rate-of-return that’s far and above every other franchise on the market.

Don’t believe me? Here’s a breakdown of the top ten live action franchises on the market. The franchises are ranked by their rate-of-return—which is every franchise film’s combined worldwide box office divided by the combined budget.

Note: I’ve decided to exclude animated franchises—although only one (the Despicable Me films) actually tops the Jurassic Park series.

  1. Jurassic Park - 8.13x rate-of-return

  2. Twilight - 7.92x rate-of-return

  3. Star Wars - 6.16x rate-of-return

  4. Harry Potter - 5.99s rate-of-return

  5. Hunger Games - 5.98s rate-of-return

  6. Lord of the Rings - 5.88x rate-of-return

  7. Marvel Cinematic Universe - 4.99x rate-of-return

  8. Fast & Furious - 4.88x rate-of-return

  9. Transformers - 4.47x rate-of-return

  10. Mission Impossible - 4.35x rate-of-return

The gargantuan difference between Hollywood’s most profitable franchise, Jurassic Park, and its tenth-most-profitable franchise, Mission Impossible, is pretty telling. Jurassic Park nearly doubles the Tom Cruise series’ rate-of-return.

And if we don’t include the Twilight films on this list—which maybe we shouldn’t, considering there are only five movies and the franchise likely won’t grow moving forward—then Star Wars is the only other franchise that comes even close to match Jurassic Park’s profitability. And even then, Jurassic Park eclipses Star Wars’ profitability by a striking 32%.

Perhaps the most significant gap, however, is the difference between Jurassic Park’s and the MCU’s profitability. While the Marvel films have generated an insane $22.577 billion since Iron Man hit theaters in 2008, they’ve also required a combined budget of $4.529 billion. Meanwhile, the five Jurassic Park films’ combined budget rests at a mere $616 million.

To break that down, the average Marvel movie requires a budget of $196.9 million and produces an average of $981.6 million in worldwide revenue. But the average Jurassic Park movie only requires a budget of $123.2 million and produces an average of $1.002 billion in box office receipts.

Now, there’s an obvious reason for that gap in budgets: three of the Jurassic Park movies came out during the 1990s and early 2000s. Those three movies’ combined budget was just $231 million, which would blow up exponentially in today’s dollars. For instance, the original Jurassic Park’s budget of $63 million would be a little over $102 million today.

But if we were to inflate the budget, then we’d have to inflate each movie’s box office total as well. That means that Jurassic Park’s domestic total of $402.5 million would inflate to a staggering $853.3 million in 2020—which is just $5 million away from what Avengers: Endgame made last year when it become the second-highest-grossing film in U.S. box office history.

Honestly, though, that comparison isn’t fair to the original Jurassic Park, considering the film’s owns a nearly unmatchable 16.6x rate-of-return, which far outpaces Endgame’s 6.99x rate-of-return—as well as Star Wars: The Force Awaken’s 6.76x rate-of-return.

It’s also telling that the Jurassic Park’s only true “flop,” Jurassic Park III, saw a 3.93x rate-of-return—a figure that tops the overall average for several franchises, including James Bond, the DCEU, Pirates of the Caribbean, X-Men and Star Trek.

The Jurassic Park franchise has carried that momentum into today. While the series may seemingly not be as viral as either Marvel or Star Wars, the latest two Jurassic World films have produced a combined $2.979 billion at the global box office on a combined budget of $385 million—that represents a 7.74x rate-of-return. Once again, better than the most profitable films in both the Marvel and Star Wars franchises.

Simply put: no other modern franchise can match those kinds of numbers.