Geoffrey Long
Tip of the Quill: Archives
Numbers for dark fantasies.

According to, Guillermo del Toro's critically-lauded film Pan's Labyrinth was produced on a budget of $19M and has, so far, taken in a domestic total of $19,188,000 and a foreign total of $25,941,961. This means that the film has a worldwide total so far of $45,129,961 for a profit of $26,129,961 (I think). In its opening weekend the film took in $568,641 on a total of 17 theaters; the wider release in 609 theaters brought in $4,502,243 for an average of $7,392 per theater and 23.5% of its total gross to date.

Del Toro's Hellboy, by contrast, had a budget of $66 million, a total domestic gross of $59,623,958 and a foreign gross of $39,695,029 for a worldwide total of $99,318,987 and a profit of $33,318,987.

My math may be wrong here, but I think this means that after its entire run from April 2, 2004 through July 1, 2004 Hellboy had approximately a 33% profit margin, and currently, after only 36 days (although this is only for domestic; I think it opened overseas much earlier), Pan's Labyrinth already has a 67% profit margin. Is that right? Or did I botch a formula somewhere in here?

Further interesting numbers emerge when comparing Pan's Labyrinth to Mirrormask. Also according to, Mirrormask was produced on a shoestring budget of $4M, but only made $866,999 in the theaters. This might be viewed as a catastrophic failure, but a little further exploration reveals that at its widest release, Mirrormask was only shown in 42 theaters. Pan's Labyrinth, by contrast, at its widest to date was being shown in 1,082 theaters. However, Pan's Labyrinth spanked Mirrormask in its opening weekend; Labyrinth opened on 17 theaters and took in $568,641; Mirrormask opened in 18 theaters and only took in $126,449.

There are a number of factors that throw these numbers off, of course; for instance, Mirrormask had the misfortune of opening on the same weekend as Joss Whedon's Serenity and Pan's Labyrinth had its marketing juggernaut rolling with a international release already in full swing. Also, Mirrormask was never intended for a theatrical release at all; sadly, its sales numbers in DVD aren't currently available. (I don't think – if they are, I haven't found them yet. has the VHS rental numbers, but who the hell rents movies on VHS anymore?)

What does all this mean? I'm not entirely sure, but they're interesting numbers nevertheless.
Another interesting bit of data: According to, Pan's Labyrinth is a statistical anomaly in that each of its 5 weeks in release has been better than the last. Of course, it's also been open in more theaters each successive week as well, so take that as you will.


I believe that films have to make double their budget to be at all profitable... My dad (the economist) explained it to me at some point, but I cannot recall the particulars... (and I could be remembering it completely wrong, it which case, please excuse this comment!)

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