The Surprising Reason RoboCop Might Be a Winner for Sony

Joel Kinnaman assumes the titular role in the remake of RoboCop. Credit: Sony Pictures.

Turns out I was wrong about RoboCop in at least one way. Sony (NYSE: SNE  ) and MGM spent less on the remake than I'd thought: $100 million instead of $120 million.

Why should you care? Box office math is geometric. Every dollar of production budget spent demands two dollars in box office gross. Thus, the profit threshold for RoboCop is at least $40 million less than I'd expected, and well within spitting distance of related remakes and February action releases.

What's a good list of comparables? I picked three:

Metric
RoboCop (2014)
A Good Day to Die Hard
Total Recall (2012)
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

Domestic gross

$30.01 million

$67.35 million

$58.88 million

$51.77 million

International gross

$69.90 million

$237.30 million

$139.59 million

$80.79 million

Production budget

$100 million

$92 million

$125 million

$57 million

Estimated break-even

$200 million

$184 million

$250 million

$114 million

Rotten Tomatoes ratings (critics / audiences)

48% / 65%

14% / 42%

30% / 47%

17% / 32%

Sources: Box Office Mojo, Rotten Tomatoes.

Both A Good Day to Die Hard and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance were timed for President's Day weekend releases. Len Wiseman's Total Recall remake screened in August but is similar in that it offers a new take on a treasured action classic from the late '80s and early '90s.

Now, given that, here's the good news for Sony and MGM:

  • Of the four films listed, RoboCop gets the highest ratings from both critics and audiences.

  • Both President's Day films -- A Good Day to Die Hard and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance -- were profitable despite terrible reviews.

  • Total Recall also suffered bad reviews, but strong competition may have been a bigger factor. (The Bourne Legacy would open the very next week.)

  • And finally, outside of the Kevin Costner thriller 3 Days to Kill and the historical epic Pompeii, there isn't much competition for RoboCop until Time Warner (NYSE: TWX  ) brings 300: Rise of an Empire to theaters on March 7.

All in all, the odds seem to favor Sony and MGM at least making back their production costs while DVD, Blu-ray, and on-demand rentals and sales provide a small profit.

Now it's your turn to weigh in. Have you seen the RoboCop remake? If so, would you see a sequel? Leave a comment in the box below to let us know where you stand.

RoboCop started slow, but there may be just enough callbacks to the original for the film to turn a profit. Sources: Sony Pictures, YouTube.

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Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On February 20, 2014, at 6:50 AM, chiefehrman wrote:

    The ole cliche applies here. If it isn't broken don't fix. I will take the Ole RoboCop any day. Peter will always be Murphy to me.

  • Report this Comment On February 20, 2014, at 1:19 PM, thatguy1234 wrote:

    I agree. Robocop is a cult hit and to remake it was a dumb idea, Especially when it comes off as a real shitty movie.

  • Report this Comment On February 21, 2014, at 10:40 AM, yourapuppet wrote:

    As someone that didn't grow up as a fan of Robocop, I.E. I'm not a old guy, it was a great movie. Hell considering how crappy most movies have been I almost listened to the reviews and dismissed it as terrible. However I went to see it and was pleasantly surprised. Knowing that the new version was good and being told the original was better I decided to watch the original which was awful. This remake has been misrepresented in the public due to a bias towards a long antiquated version and reviewers living in the past. Your old, and if your not going to let younger people enjoy an idea as great as Robocop kick the bucket.

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