That 70’s Success

03/19/2011 at 2:47 am | Posted in Flik/Spec, iamnoahjames.com, Net/Spec | 6 Comments
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In 1998, FOX launched That 70’s Show – a sitcom starring mostly unknown talent (Danny Masterson had established himself in the film industry prior to being cast) – and it became a hit, turning the main cast into household names practically overnight.  The show lasted for 201 episodes (8 seasons), but not everyone stayed for the entire run.  Both Topher Grace & Ashton Kutcher (both were the highest paid of the group) wanted to leave early to pursue a movie career.  Grace left after the 7th season finale, only showing up briefly in the series finale; Kutcher appeared in five episodes of the show’s final season.

With the surprising underperformance of Topher Grace’s latest vehicle Take Me Home Tonight (it debuted outside of the Top 10), I thought it would be the perfect time to see which That 70’s Show alum has had the most film success so far.  We’ll see if the old saying “Hindsight is 20/20” is proven in this study, or if leaving the show early was the right thing to do for the two men.

A few disclaimers:  Producing credits aren’t going to be counted; same goes for writing.  Only acting credits count in this tabulation.  Also, included in the calculations are movies released during the course of the sitcom’s run.  The three actors with the greatest amount of film activity (by a large margin) are Topher Grace, Ashton Kutcher, & Mila Kunis – so Danny Masterson, Laura Prepon, & Wilmer Valderrama were not included in this study. 

The final thing to note is Topher Grace will have two calculations.  The reason for this is that (due to Spider-Man 3) there will be those that argue such a huge franchise already had the built-in audience, so it might contaminate the water.  I personally believe it’s justified staying in, but felt it was worth it to cover both bases.

The numbers will be based on seven films for Kunis, 14 for Kutcher, and eight films for Grace (seven without Spider-Man 3).  Six movies were excluded in the Kunis count due to not enough information on either the budget or the box office – the movie Milo was left off because she was uncredited.  Six movies were kept out for Kutcher – five due to insufficient budget information, and Cheaper by the Dozen was left off since he was uncredited.  Topher Grace has two left off with lack of budget information.  All budget and box office figures were gathered from imdb.com and boxofficemojo.com. 

So let’s crunch the numbers:

The first thing we’re going to look at is the gross in the domestic Box Office.  The order from highest to lowest in total dollars – $756.5 million for Topher Grace (with SM3), $690.3 million for Ashton Kutcher, $426 million for Mila Kunis, & $420 million for sans-SM3 Grace. 

Lest you be fooled by these numbers, remember how many more films Kutcher has in these calculations.  What would be more telling (and comparing apples-to-apples) is showing the average B.O. gross for their films- $94.6 million for Grace (w/SM3), $60.8 million for Kunis, $60 million for Grace without SM3, and $49.3 million for Kutcher.

Let’s dig a little deeper with the domestic numbers.  See, different films have different expectations.  In the film industry, those expectations translate into the budget for the movie.  Therefore, to get an even clearer picture of the actors’ results, we should expose the overall profit (gross minus budget) ranking – $231.5 million for Grace w/SM3, $183 million for Kunis, $153 million for Grace without SM3, & $145.3 million for Kutcher. 

This movie hurts Kutcher's domestic numbers

Going farther into the average movie profit – $29 million for SM3 Grace, $26.1 million for Kunis, $21.8 million for no-SM3 Grace, and $10.4 million with Kutcher.

So far we have Mila & Topher neck-and-neck, the winner depending entirely on whether you include Spider-Man 3 or not.  For the domestic tiebreaker, let’s view the average percentages on how each actor’s movies have over-performed from their budget – Kunis jumps to the lead with 75% – then no-SM3 Grace with 57%, Grace with SM3 at 44%, and finally Kutcher with 27%.

If it’s confusing how Grace without Spider-Man 3 is higher than with the movie, it would be helpful to note that (with costing around $300 million), the film only passed its budget by 30%.  Conversely, Black Swan flew (no pun intended) well above its budget by 716%.

According to my calculations, the domestic winner is:  Mila Kunis

 
 
 

WINNER!!

 

What about global Box Office numbers?  If we look at worldwide figures, would the results show a different victor?  Let’s find out using the same path as we did with domestic numbers.

From the highest to the lowest gross, the global Box Office rankings would be – $1.67 BILLION for Grace w/SM3, $1.33 billion for Kutcher, $802.4 million for Kunis, & $775.2 million for no-SM3 Grace.

One thing to note is that both Take Me Home Tonight (for Grace) and Texas Rangers (for Kutcher) are not included, since they don’t appear to have been released globally.

Once again, remember that Kutcher has 5 more films that qualify for this study.  The order of the average gross would be $238 million for SM3 Grace, $129.2 million for no-SM3 Grace, Kunis at $114.6 million, and finally $102.6 million for Kutcher.  With or without the franchise, Grace has the higher average.

Next layer into the study is overall profit – SM3 Grace is $1.14 billion, $788.7 million for Kutcher, Kunis has $559.4 million, and finally $508.2 million for Grace w/out SM3 – the same order as the gross ranking.  But is the average profit the same?  Yup – $163 million for SM3 Grace, $84.7 million for Grace non-SM3, Kunis has $80 million, and finally Kutcher with $60.7 million.

Moment of truth:  Looks like Topher is still coming out ahead.  How does that average worldwide profit percentage play out?  Grace with SM3 overacheived the budget by 233%, Mila’s films at 230%, Grace without SM3 at 220%, and Kutcher trails at 163%.

By my count, it looks like the global champion is: Topher Grace if you count Spider-Man 3

 
 
 

King of the World (Thanks to Spidey)

 

If you are one of those that want the franchise excluded, then Mila Kunis is the most successful movie star to come out of That 70’s Show.

So was it the right thing to do for Ashton and Topher to leave the show before it concluded?  Have their movie careers not panned out as they would’ve hoped?  I think it depends on their ultimate goals.  Kutcher has been a successful producer, along with his multiple endorsement deals; Grace has also gotten into the writing/producing world too.

One thing is for sure: Mila Kunis has done just as well – if not better – than her two fellow co-stars.  And her future just keeps getting brighter.

The good old days

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6 Comments »

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  1. Were I to rate these actors by their eye in the public light, I would still put Kunis at top of the list. Followed by Kutcher, Grace, Prepon, and so on and so forth.

    But, and maybe I just missed this, but what about Debra Jo Rupp and Kurtwood Smith? I assume we are only counting film success. We’re we to throw in tv success, I know that aside from Kunis’s role of Family Guy (which seems to be minor anyways)Kurtwood Smith has had great TV success. (and a long film career before T70S) Rupp has recently landed a spot on the series “Better With You”, which from my understanding is doing quite well in it’s time spot. Kutcher obv. had his hit with Punk’d.

    I dunno. Guess I am just rambling here. It helps a lot that Mila Kunis is hot.

    • I stuck with the 6 core members of the group – and film success at that. Kutcher’s producing activity has been pretty busy, and Kunis has Family Guy and Robot Chicken.

      I left Smith & Rupp off because they were around and known before That 70’s Show. Smith has had a great career (remember him in Robocop??), and has been in multiple TV shows since the sitcom concluded.

      Rupp had some notable episodes of Friends, along with other shows. Sadly, Better With You isn’t doing as well as ABC would hope. Right now, it’s on the renewal bubble – and unless it trends up, it doesn’t look like it will be back for another season.

  2. Well sir, if you are just going to debate everything I type, then perhaps I will discontinue discussing on your blog.
    Good day, sir!

    I SAID GOOD DAY!

    • You crack me up, Adam.

      Were you a fan of the show?

  3. I SAID GOOD DAY!

    But seriously, yeah. I enjoyed the show, and have considered buying the seasons on DVD.

    I think I liked Danny Masterson the best. Hyde was just a character I could relate to.

    Lots of fun, and I will still watch it on reruns.

    • Hyde was great.

      I would recommend buying the seasons. But be warned, after the first few seasons, the special features become sparse.

      Even re-watching my copy on DVD, I found it hard to get through the final season. I felt the writing took a HUGE drop in quality – some of the characters even changed from what was established for 7 YEARS.


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