Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Move Over "Jurassic World" -- This Could Be Comcast's Next $1 Billion Movie

By Steve Symington - Dec 27, 2014 at 9:10AM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

Hint: It's not Fast and Furious 7

Of all the movies distributed by Comcast's (CMCSA 1.52%) Universal Pictures, arguably none have achieved the level of success as Jurassic Park. Though the dinosaur flick debuted way back in summer 1993, it remains Universal's only film to ever exceed $1 billion in gross box office receipts, including $402.5 million from the U.S. alone. Adjusted for inflation, that makes Jurassic Park's U.S. box office haul the third-highest for any PG-13 film, trailing only Titanic and Avatar.

So Comcast must be particularly excited for the June 12, 2015, release of Jurassic Worldwhich is no doubt why the film was allocated a whopping $150 million production budget. Jurassic World will open complete with the latest and greatest CGI, huge star power featuring Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, and the potential to spawn a new generation of fans by breathing life back into the prehistoric franchise.

If all goes well, I certainly wouldn't rule out the possibility of Jurassic World reaching $1 billion at the box office. But that milestone is hardly guaranteed, as the film needs to not only fill the enormous tracks left by the original, but also overcome the stigma associated with what many saw as halfhearted follow-ups in 1997's The Lost World: Jurassic Park, and 2001's Jurassic Park III, which gathered "just" $618.6 million and $368.8 million worldwide, respectively.

Not to mention that it follows the May 1 debut of Disney (DIS 3.30%) Marvel's The Avengers: Age of Ultron, whose $1.5 billion-grossing predecessor was still amassing eight-figure weekends at the U.S. box office a full seven weeks into its 2012 theatrical run. 

Despite all the hype surrounding Jurassic World right now, I think it's more likely Comcast's next $1 billion movie will come in a different color -- yellow, to be exact:

Minions hits theaters July 10, 2015, Credit: Comcast Universal.

That's right; Universal and Illumination Entertainment are bringing Minions to theaters on July 10, 2015 -- less than one month after Jurassic World. But how could the animated flick possibly reach $1 billion?

First, keep in mind Minions is set as a prequel to Despicable Me, so should enjoy a broader viewer base assuming it is granted the same PG rating. Minions is also being helmed once again by series director Pierre Coffin and executive producer Chris Renaud, both of whom worked on the first two films in the franchise. Each of those movies also earned enviable "A" CinemaScores from polled audiences, virtually guaranteeing sustained foot traffic in later box office weeks from strong word-of-mouth and repeat viewings.

The $1 billion question
But will audiences respond in kind this time?

First, as a proud father of three children under the age of 7, I can safely say my kids will practically drag me to the theater. And I won't be alone; since it was uploaded early last month, Minions' first official trailer already boasts 20 million views on YouTube, along with a 96% "thumbs up" rating from nearly 100,000 votes:

If that's not quantifiable enough, consider that Despicable Me achieved a solid gross of $543.1 million in 2010, or nearly eight times its modest $69 million production budget. But more pertinent to our discussion is the staggering performance of Despicable Me 2, which turned a $76 million budget into $970.8 million in box office receipts following its July 2013 launch. Most important, note the latter enjoyed significant sales growth over the former with both domestic audiences (up 46.4% to $368.1 million) and viewers abroad (up 106.7% to $602.7 million).

Comcast has plenty to gain if Minions succeeds. In fact, Despicable Me 2's outperformance was so pronounced that in Comcast's most recent quarter, management primarily blamed its absence for a 15.2% year-over-year decline in filmed entertainment revenue to $1.2 billion. Consequently, operating cash flow from the segment also decreased 20.3% to $151 million. 

Comcast has not yet released an official production budget for Minions. But in the end, if it can manage to even slightly improve upon Despicable Me 2, Minions will easily tuck its $1 billion achievement into the single front pocket of those little blue overalls.

Steve Symington 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.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

Comcast Corporation Stock Quote
Comcast Corporation
$40.00 (1.52%) $0.60
The Walt Disney Company Stock Quote
The Walt Disney Company
$121.57 (3.30%) $3.88

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
S&P 500 Returns

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 08/13/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.