The most profitable movie franchises in the world

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Saxo gathered data to find out which movie franchise is the best return on investment based on both cumulative and average profit made at the box office to close the debate once and for all.

Here are the main findings:

  • Avatar is the best return on investment of the cinema industry with £2.2B profit

  • Disney’s Frozen among the most profitable franchises with the 3rd best average profit

  • The MCU’s 31 films have brought the franchise over £18.4B  profit at the box office

  • Star Wars is the second most profitable franchise in the world with £7.1B profit

Most profitable franchise at the box office based on average profit

With a £2.4B revenue in 2009 and a 92.86% profit margin, Avatar is simply the best performing film at the box office, £100M higher than MCU’s Avengers: End Game. The sequel having a budget of £207M would need to make £2.6B at the box office to match its predecessor bearing in mind that Avatar has a production budget of £196M.

In terms of profit (box office revenue minus production budget), Avatar sits at a comfortable £2.2B, which is £600M higher than the Avengers franchise (The Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame). Rounding off the top three with a fully animated franchise, Frozen made an average profit of £998M per film, which represents an 88.92% profit margin for the Disney franchise.

Animated films don’t just stop there as both The Lion King and Minions complete the top five. In fact, in the top 10 alone, half of the franchises feature animated films, and they all present the highest profit margins (84%+). It is also interesting to note that although Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was just released earlier this month, the franchise already ranks 9th on the list.

Most profitable movie franchise at the box office based on total profit

The MCU’s 31 films released starting with Iron Man (2008) to Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022) have brought the studio an astonishing £18.4B profit, over twice the profit made by any other franchise ever to enter the box office.

George Lucas’, now Disney’s Star Wars franchise, saw its first instalment released in 1977. Since then, the saga has made no less than £7.1B profit for LucasFilm, representing an 83.16% profit margin. And this doesn’t include Disney+ series The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett, Obi-Wan Kenobi nor the latest Andor.

The adaptation of J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter franchise took the world by storm in the early 2000s. Eleven films later, £6.5B profit was made at the box office alone, representing an 81.90% profit margin. Hogwarts inhabits many secrets, one of which is how much more the franchise has made outside of the film industry.

Other notable franchises such as James Bond (6th, £5B profit, 76.61% profit margin), Batman (9th, £4.3B profit, 76.37% margin), Lord of the Rings (10th, £4B, 83.22% profit margin), and Pirates of the Caribbean (15th, £2.6B profit, 71.83% profit margin) made the top 15.

Most profitable franchise at the box office based on average profit

#

Franchise

No. of Movies

Avg. Profit (in £)

Avg. Profit Margin (in %)

1

Avatar

1

£2,218,825,805

91.86%

2

Avengers

4

£1,341,800,617

83.37%

3

Frozen

2

£998,641,364

88.92%

4

The Lion King

3

£952,270,380

87.12%

5

Minions

2

£805,531,273

92.65%

6

Jurassic Park

6

£723,080,438

87.00%

7

Finding Nemo

2

£691,846,906

85.01%

8

The Hobbit

3

£612,711,539

75.98%

9

Black Panther

2

£621,762,857

78.93%

10

The Incredibles

2

£656,632,278

84.42%

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