Jack Ryan: Prime Example Of Film Franchise Profitability

To understand the film industry, you must first understand that successful franchises bring in the most dough. Shadow Recruit might be the fifth movie in the Jack Ryan series, proving that Viacom can compete with Disney and Comcast's Universal Pictures.

Jan 18, 2014 at 8:30AM

Tom Clancy passed away on October 1, 2013, leaving behind a phenomenal legacy in regard to entertainment. Jack Ryan, the protagonist in many Tom Clancy novels, has a lot to do with this. Paramount Pictures, a subsidiary of Viacom (NASDAQ:VIAB), looks at its newest release, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, as a tribute to Clancy. This fact combined with Paramount Pictures' consistent success at the box office makes me believe that Shadow Recruit will be a success. However, you can't base an investment decision on an opinion. Fortunately, there's a lot of information to go on. While past results don't guarantee future success, there are some numbers you might want to consider.  

Generating buzz
CIA movies always seem to be intriguing, simply because of the shroud of mystery covering this government operation. When you add Chris Pine, Kevin Costner, and Keira Knightley, the odds of success greatly increase. If you're not familiar with Shadow Recruit and you want a quick idea of what it's all about, strongly consider watching the quick trailer below. If you're reading this article, then you're the target audience. The movie is about an imminent terrorist attack that has the potential to unravel the global economy. Therefore, if the trailer intrigues you, it's a positive sign. If not, it's a negative. Now the trailer:

Generating buzz is important, but now let's take a look at some numbers.

What to expect when you're expecting profitable returns
Shadow Recruit is the fifth Jack Ryan movie. Previous Jack Ryan movies include The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger, and The Sum of All Fears. The actors who played Jack Ryan throughout these movies: Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, and Ben Affleck.

The Hunt for Red October (1990) had a budget of $30 million. It has a 7.6 (of 10) score on IMDb, a 95% approval rating on RottenTomatoes, and a 58% approval rating on Metacritic. It grossed $122 million domestically and $201 million worldwide. A huge success.

Patriot Games (1992) has a 6.9 score on IMDb, a 74% approval rating on RottenTomatoes, and a 69% approval rating on Metacritic. Budget: $45 million. It grossed $83 million domestically and $178 million worldwide. Not quite as impressive as The Hunt for Red October, but still a success.

Clear and Present Danger (1994) has an IMDb score of 6.9, an approval rating of 82% on RottenTomatoes, and a 74% approval rating on Metacritic. Budget: $62 million. It grossed $122 million domestically and $216 million worldwide. Another solid success.

The Sum of All Fears (2002) has an IMDb rating of 6.4, an approval rating of 59% on RottenTomatoes, and a 45% approval rating on Metacritic. These are the lowest review scores of the previous four movies, but does that mean the movie failed at the box office? Budget: $68 million. It grossed $119 million domestically and $194 million worldwide. Although the movie was a financial win, it can be assumed that Paramount Pictures hoped it would perform better at the box office, especially considering this was the final installment. Ben Affleck's career also wasn't exactly flying at the time, and he might have been miscast.

Adding it all up
The total budget for the first four installments: $205 million. Total domestic gross: $446 million. Total worldwide gross: $789 million. Unlike the previous installments, Shadow Recruit isn't based on a specific novel; it's more about the character. However, if the movie is a success, then keep in mind that there are five Jack Ryan novels that haven't been made into movies yet. Therefore, the potentials for this franchise, Paramount Pictures, and Viacom are very good.

Also consider that based on the strong global performances of previous installments, Shadow Recruit should have global appeal. However, what about the competition?

Will Shadow Recruit dominate the silver screen?
Despite being a completely different type of movie, Disney's (NYSE:DIS) Frozen still has the potential to steal share from Shadow Recruit, simply because it's for all audiences. According to Boxofficemojo, Frozen is expected to come in No. 2 at the box office for the January 10-12 weekend. The good news for Paramount Pictures is that its weekend gross is expected to have dropped 23% from the previous weekend and its theater count is expected to have declined by 79, opening the door for new movies to take control of the big screen.

The biggest threat doesn't come from Disney, but Comcast's (NASDAQ:CMCSA) Universal Pictures with Lone Survivor. Lone Survivor is expected to have ranked No. 1 at the box office over the weekend. It has an IMDb score of 7.8, an approval rating of 72% at RottenTomatoes, and a Metacritic approval rating of 60%.

The Foolish takeaway
Shadow Recruit might have a fight on its hands when it comes to winning at the box office over the next several weekends, which has a lot to do with Lone Survivor. However, Shadow Recruit might be capable of winning this fight since it should appeal to a broader audience. Regardless of how this plays out, it's likely that Paramount Pictures has revived a winning franchise. If Shadow Recruit is a success, expect more installments, which could eventually lead to a total gross north of $1 billion. For instance, if you look at the worldwide grosses for the first four installments, they averaged $197.2 million. If five Jack Ryan novels have yet to be made into movies and that averaged was maintained, it would lead to a total gross of $986.25 billion for those five installments. And this doesn't include Shadow Recruit.   

Viacom won't just gain this financial benefit, as all successful franchises help build the brand for Paramount Pictures, which has revived Jack Ryan on the big screen. This should help fuel the company's top line, which is a reason to at least have Viacom on your watchlist. 

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Dan Moskowitz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of Walt Disney. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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