Universal has confirmed that Amblin’s Jurassic World Dominion has passed $1 billion in global theatrical grosses. That makes it the third straight Jurassic movie to ‘do the deed,’ and the fourth overall alongside Jurassic Park ($924 million in 1993, $1.109 billion counting reissues). The six-film franchise has earned a combined $6.02 billion worldwide on a combined budget of around $734 million. That’s an average rate of return of 8.2x, obviously not counting marketing expenses but also not counting post-theatrical revenue. It remains the most profitable (in terms of budget versus theatrical) big-budget franchise of all time. Even the four Avengers films ‘only’ earned $7.757 billion on a combined $1.142 billion budget.
As for why the franchise remains as big as it is, well, it’s only the big-budget theatrical franchise (all due respect to Carnisour and The VelociPastor) that features giant dinosaurs running wild and people being eaten by those dinosaurs. Also, after a decade of Hollywood trying to copy The Avengers, Jurassic is one of the few franchises that aren’t about explicitly superpowered individuals (superheroes, sentient robots, wizards, etc.) or proverbial one-man-army heroes (James Bond, Ethan Hunt, John Wick, etc.). As skewed as it sounds to consider Jurassic a blue-collar franchise, it’s one of the only franchises left featuring ordinary people (animal trainers, military vets, animal rights activists, scientists, archeologists, etc.) dealing with extraordinary circumstances.
Jurassic World Dominion has earned $375 million domestic and $158 million in China, the latter of which is the third-biggest Hollywood grosser since late 2019 behind Universal’s Hobbs & Shaw ($205 million) and Warner Bros.’ Godzilla Vs. Kong ($188 million). That it earned 40% less than Fallen Kingdom ($262 million) in China says more about China than about Jurassic (Jurassic World earned $228 million there in 2015). If Minions: The Rise of Gru (currently at around $35 million in China) played as well as Despicable Me 3 ($153 million in 2017), it too would have pushed past $1 billion global. Ditto Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness ($955 million sans China).
Colin Trevorrow and Emily Carmichael’s dino threequel remains the third film to reach the benchmark since Joker, Frozen II and Rise of Skywalker in late 2019. It sits behind only Top Gun: Maverick ($1.465 billion) and Spider-Man: No Way Home ($1.91 billion), neither of which played in China. With the obvious caveat that Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Avatar: The Way of Water should do so as well, we may be seeing a new normal whereby a film passing the milestone is at least as rare as it was before 2015. 2010 was the first year with two (Toy Story 3 and Alice in Wonderland), while 2014 had only Transformers: Age of Extinction.
Harry Potter 7.2 and Transformers: Dark of the Moon did the deed in 2011, while Iron Man 3 and Frozen did so in 2013. Until 2015, the quadruple whammy (The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, Skyfall and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey) was an exception to rule. However, starting in 2015, Disney became all-powerful thanks to four Avengers-ish (counting Civil War) movies between 2015 and 2019 and new Star Wars sequels, while their live-action remake fad hit the Katzenberg trifecta with Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King. Universal saw the Despicable Me/Minions franchise soar to infinity and beyond, while Jurassic World became a goldmine and The Fast Saga exploded with Furious 7.
Many surefire franchises coming to a natural end. Moreover, China is becoming far less of a factor for these top-tier earners. F9 earned $205 million in China, partially because they didn’t like the retcon-filled, continuity-drenched, franchise-focused narrative here any more than they did with Detective Chinatown 3. We could be on the cusp of entering a ‘new normal’ (especially after next year following… not a prediction… Little Mermaid, Indiana Jones 5, Mission: Impossible 7 and Aquaman 2) where two-to-three movies pull it off per year. As long as budgets take that into account and we don’t get pundits swearing that every big movie is going to cross $1 billion, that would not remotely be a bad thing.