CLOSE
Original image
YouTube

The 20 Most Profitable Movies of All Time (Based on Return on Investment)

Original image
YouTube

When it comes to box office dollars, the recipe for a successful movie is pretty simple: small budget + massive ticket sales = huge profit. If done correctly, this means an enormous return on investment (ROI) for the clever minds behind the film. According to data from The Numbers, the 20 films below have mastered that moneymaking recipe to become the most profitable films of all time, based on ROI.

1. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY (2007)

Budget: $450,000
Profit: $89,318,792

Written and directed by Oren Peli, this classic found footage horror film tops the list, spending only $450,000 on production and ending up with an ROI of 19,749 percent. Scary.

2. THE DEVIL INSIDE (2012)

YouTube

Budget: $1,000,000
Profit: $37,316,634

Hoping to replicate the success (and format) of Paranormal Activity, this similarly documentary-style film, directed and co-written by William Brent Bell, managed to achieve an ROI of 3632 percent. Though it was not nearly as supernatural of an outcome as Peli managed, it's enough to earn the movie a spot right below his film in terms of profit. 

3. PETER PAN (1953)

Budget: $4,000,000
Profit: $139,757,67

This Walt Disney classic, with its widespread appeal to children and adults alike, had a total ROI of 3394 percent. Never growing up appears to be a profitable endeavor.

4. GREASE (1978)

YouTube

Budget: $6,000,000
Profit: $184,126,016

An American classic that is still finding new audiences, Grease sang and danced its way to the near top of the list with an ROI of 2969 percent.

5. GOD’S NOT DEAD (2014)

Budget: $1,150,000
Profit: $31,357,058

A huge hit with Christian moviegoers, this Kevin Sorbo starrer scored an ROI of 2627 percent and managed to stick around in theaters for a whopping 20 weeks.

6. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 (2010)

YouTube

Budget: $3,000,000
Profit: $77,144,539

The third horror movie on this list (and the second with "Paranormal Activity" in its title), Paranormal Activity 2 ended up with an ROI of 2471 percent, even though its budget dwarfed the original's.

7. INSIDIOUS (2011)

Budget: $1,500,000
Profit: $34,401,198

Another horror film that managed to scare up a huge audience, Insidious possesses an ROI of 2139 percent.

8. YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (1974)

YouTube

Budget: $2,800,000
Profit: $57,510,448

This comedic reimagining of Frankenstein was a major hit for Mel Brooks and ended up with a total ROI of 1954 percent.

9. IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946)

Budget: $3,180,000
Profit: $60,536,880

Frank Capra's uplifting holiday classic is the oldest movie on this list, the source of the idea that every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings, and a major hit, with an ROI of 1804 percent.

10. RESERVOIR DOGS (1992)

YouTube

Budget: $1,200,000
Profit: $22,452,279

Earning a well-deserved ROI of 1771 percent, Quentin Tarantino's directorial debut gunned its way to becoming the tenth most profitable movie.

11. JAWS (1975)

Budget: $12,000,000
Profit: $222,629,082

This classic film, with its abundance of blood, screaming, and somewhat-obvious shark props, racked up an ROI of 1755 percent and kept beachgoers out of the water for years.

12. ANNABELLE (2014)

YouTube

Budget: $6,500,000
Profit: $98,033,662

Yes, another horror film! John R. Leonetti's Annabelle managed to creep its way up to more than $250 million in ticket sales worldwide, yielding an ROI of 1408 percent.

13. BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (1991)

Budget: $20,000,000
Profit: $287,924,831

The second Disney movie appearing on this list, this classic love story earned the biggest profit and started out with the biggest budget. What does that mean? Well, in this case, an ROI of 1340 percent.

14. THE KING’S SPEECH (2010)

YouTube

Budget: $15,000,000
Profit: $196,296,922

Earning an ROI of 1209 percent, this historical drama was a major hit, starring Colin Firth as King George VI and Geoffrey Rush as Lionel Logue, his speech therapist.

15. MAGIC MIKE (2012)

Budget: $7,000,000
Profit: $89,660,661

Channing Tatum and Matthew McConaughey didn't have to bare it all to drum up more than $170 million in ticket sales, leaving director Steven Soderbergh with an ROI of 1181 percent.

16. THE FAULT IN OUR STARS (2014)

YouTube

Budget: $12,000,000
Profit: $146,328,566

Based on the incredibly popular book by John Green, the big screen adaptation of The Fault in Our Stars took our tears and turned them into a profit of nearly $150 million. That’s an ROI of 1119 percent for those keeping count.

17. THE PURGE (2013)

Budget: $3,000,000
Profit: $35,920,740

Writer/director James DeMonaco's innovative take on anarchy ended up scoring an ROI of 1097 percent (not to mention a 2014 sequel and a third film on the way next year).

18. SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE (2008)

YouTube

Budget: $14,000,000
Profit: $163,354,988

Danny Boyle's Oscar-winning romantic drama earned nearly $385 million worldwide for an ROI of 1067 percent.

19. BLACK SWAN (2010)

Budget: $13,000,000
Profit: $148,130,645

Full of hallucinations, ballet, and (of course) swans, Darren Aronofsky's psychological thriller performed brilliantly, achieving an ROI of 1039 percent.

20. UNFRIENDED (2015)

YouTube

Budget: $1,000,000
Profit: $11,191,847

The most recent addition to the list, Unfriended rounds out the top 20 just as it began: with a found footage horror film. Shot on a $1 million budget, the film—directed by relative newcomer Levan Gabriadze—took in more than $60 million worldwide, leaving it with an ROI of 1011 percent.

Original image
iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
arrow
technology
Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
Original image
iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

Original image
iStock
arrow
technology
Why Your iPhone Doesn't Always Show You the 'Decline Call' Button
Original image
iStock

When you get an incoming call to your iPhone, the options that light up your screen aren't always the same. Sometimes you have the option to decline a call, and sometimes you only see a slider that allows you to answer, without an option to send the caller straight to voicemail. Why the difference?

A while back, Business Insider tracked down the answer to this conundrum of modern communication, and the answer turns out to be fairly simple.

If you get a call while your phone is locked, you’ll see the "slide to answer" button. In order to decline the call, you have to double-tap the power button on the top of the phone.

If your phone is unlocked, however, the screen that appears during an incoming call is different. You’ll see the two buttons, "accept" or "decline."

Either way, you get the options to set a reminder to call that person back or to immediately send them a text message. ("Dad, stop calling me at work, it’s 9 a.m.!")

[h/t Business Insider]

SECTIONS
BIG QUESTIONS
arrow
BIG QUESTIONS
WEATHER WATCH
BE THE CHANGE
JOB SECRETS
QUIZZES
WORLD WAR 1
SMART SHOPPING
STONES, BONES, & WRECKS
#TBT
THE PRESIDENTS
WORDS
RETROBITUARIES