“The Purge” gets a 1047% Return on Investment

[Update: The data in the graph has been updated to fix an error.  The Purge earned “just” a 946% return on investment in week one.  Of course, that number has certainly grown well past 1000% since]

Alternate Title: Sometimes I Wish I Was an English Teacher

The talk in Hollywood this Monday is that this weekend The Purge took in $31.4M, winning the box office.  The Purge had a budget of only $3M and really only started marketing a short couple weeks prior, relying heavily on social media to create an intense buzz around the low-budget horror/thriller.  An original premise to the level rarely seen in Hollywood these days certainly helped:

There’s so much to talk about here!  Since this is a math blog, let’s start there.  The Purge had a 1047% return on investment in its first week in the box office alone.  That’s ridiculous.  It was filmed in 20 days.  There’s no investment on Earth that can rival it.  Here’s a table of the top 10 films in the box office this week that compares the films first week’s box office gross and their budgets.


10 top grossing films of the weekend of 6/7/13

Last year when we hit on stats in Algebra II, I went to box office numbers as interesting data sets.  This takes it to a whole other level.  How can we best visualize how unbelievably historic The Purge‘s opening weekend was?  Was it the best opening weekend ever, by our ROI metric?  Iron Man 3 earned $174M in its opening weekend; how does that compare to The Purge?

If you were in charge of Universal Studios, would you prefer to have invested $3M in The Purge or $200M in Iron Man?  Would knowing the latter is approaching $400M in gross box office revenue change your thoughts?

Of course, from a literary perspective, this data is also immensely interesting. The premise of The Purge is original and harkens back to the days of The Lottery.  Is it a sign that originality and a new idea still can win out over flash, CGI and star power?  As Dave Karger of Fandango says:

“Every once in a while a movie comes around that has a premise that just captures people. The Purge is one of these movies. The concept is so different. It makes people want to see the movie.”

Most reviews have lauded the concept before lamenting the execution, which is unfortunate.  I’ll probably wait for this one to hit the library shelves, but I certainly am more interested in it than I am Iron Man or Star Trek.