Producing films is one of the riskiest of businesses. A ‘mega-project’ movie (e.g. Superman Returns) can cost up to $270 million and take years to produce. To justify this investment, the mega-project movie has to make its way to the top 5 of the box office for the year, and generate approximately $300 - $400 million total gross revenue.
In order to give some insight into which movies justify their investment in time and capital, we look at whether a movie breakeven simply from box office sales. If a movie makes more total gross than was spent on budget, it has broken even. This is a prime indicator for industry analysts in determining whether a movie is valuable to the studio, since in addition to box office sales, there are significant profits to be made from DVD sales and licensing; if box office sales breakeven, the total profit is significant.