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Serenity breaks even and becomes profitable on DVD

Matt Fabb

Sunday 19 February 2006, by Webmaster

There was quite a bit of discussion a while back whether the movie Serenity would make any money for Universal. Well, it seems now on DVD that the movie has moved out of the red and is now making money for Universal. It hasn’t exactly made a huge amount of money and there’s still some way to go for a sequel to happen, but at least the movie is no longer climbing out of the red.

Here’s some figures and number crunching for anyone who’s interested:

Serenity costs $39 million to make ($1 million under it’s $40 million budget) and while the advertising budget was never made public, people have estimated around $10 million. So overall the movie costs around $49 million for Universal to make. Now Serenity made a disappointing $25 million domestically and $13 million internationally for a total of $38 million at the box office. Now following the 55% rule, where studios get around 55% of the total of the box office, Universal only made $21 million from the box office.

Now there’s been no official sales figures for Serenity since it’s been released on DVD, only where it’s ranked on the sales charts. However, there have been sales announcements for other DVD’s above and bellow Serenity and people have managed to do some number crunching and worked out that Serenity sold from 1.104 to 1.605 million copies in the first week of release! Some more number crunching was done to figure out Serenity sold around 825 thousand copies for January 2006. So by now it’s definitely over 2 million (possibly high as 2.5 million). Now studios generally take around $12 dollars profit per DVD, with the remaining split between the retailer and distributer. So that’s $24 million from the DVD sales, already more than the studio made from the box office. Meanwhile VideoBusiness.com tracked Serenity in bringing in over $9 million in DVD rentals. It has since fallen off the chart, but at the rate of it’s decline it’s safe to estimate that it manage to make $10 million before dropping too far.

Now the tv rights for Serenity were sold to NBC for a 3 movie package deal for $26 million. Now Serenity was hardly the top movie in the deal, so let’s low ball it and say Serenity only gets $5 million out of that deal.

So that’s $21 million from the box office, $24 million from DVD sales, $10 million from rentals, and around $5 million from tv rights for a total of $60 million. With Serenity costing $49 million to make and advertise it’s estimated that Universal has made $11 million off of the movie. Not nearly enough for Universal to invest in another movie, but there’s still profit to be made. The DVD has yet been released internationally and if the domestic sales are any indication, the DVD will make more money than the theatre box office. Especially since Universal International has included a lot of cool extras in the various international editions, the Australian version has a second disk of extras and comes in a cool metal tin, plus one retailer is offering free posters with the movie, another retailer offering Serenity mouse-mats and all sorts of other cool stuff. Meanwhile the DVD has sold well enough for the talked about Special Edition to be made available. The extras have already been produced for the Australian edition and ready to go, the only extra thing that Joss Whedon wants to do is add full cast audio commentary.

Meanwhile those calculations didn’t include anything from licensing which has been doing really well. The comic book, movie novelization, books, official t-shirts, RPG have all sold better than expected and more of all these items are on it’s way. There’s more money to be made out of this franchise yet and a sequel or possibily even a direct-to-DVD sequel might still yet happen.

1 Message

  • Serenity breaks even and becomes profitable on DVD

    28 August 2006 08:26, by Dogma Mannikandis

    Now I think this was a pretty good overview on what happened with the Serenity movie.

    Now I’m sure that with the profits that Universal made they’ll want to move forward with the 2-3 additional Firefly movie deal with Joss Whedon.

    Now I think it is time for the author of the article to resolve to proofread his articles, and not use the word "now" so much.

    (I don’t mean to be mean...............I really appreciate the info conveyed !) Thanks.