Hollywood Caught Lying About Box Office Profits, But Why?

Creed 3 allegedly had a much higher production budget than MGM reports.

By Chris Snellgrove | Updated

michael b. jordan creed 3
Creed 3

Seemingly from the very beginning, Hollywood movers and shakers have engaged in creative mathematics, often in the name of claiming that a wildly successful movie or television show didn’t actually turn a profit (which is what happened with Frasier). It’s rare to catch a studio red-handed in a lie, but that seems to be what has happened now with MGM’s hit new film Creed 3. The studio has claimed that this epic boxing film had a budget of $75 million, but Puck reports that the budget for this ambitious Michael B. Jordan film is closer to $90 million instead. 

Even to film-loving cynics who are all too willing to believe that a studio would tell a bald-faced lie about its latest film, it’s quite strange for MGM to lie in this way about Creed 3. For example, if the film ended up being either a critical or commercial failure, it might make sense for the studio to downplay exactly how much money they spent. But in addition to being a critical darling, this third entry in the hit series has raked in $100.7 million worldwide, and this was easily the best opening weekend that a sports movie has ever had.

Why, then, would MGM do something that seems like damage control when it comes to Creed 3, an anime-inspired film that has already proven itself to be an unmitigated hit? The short answer is that there is basically no downside for the studio when it comes to lying about how much money they spent. If it had been a flop, the lie would help them save face, but since the movie is so successful, MGM looks like they managed to turn a film with a more modest budget into a worldwide mega-hit.

Of course, how much credit MGM should take for Creed 3’s success is a matter of some debate. While the studio has provided the resources, marketing, and name-brand recognition that helped this franchise succeed, it was Michael B. Jordan (who portrays the titular Creed) who helped this franchise become just as beloved and just as powerful as the Rocky series that came before it. And with this film, Jordan stepped behind the camera to direct as well as act, effortlessly proving himself to be one of the most gifted creatives in all of Hollywood.

Notably, Creed 3 has succeeded by appealing to a more diverse demographic than the earlier Rocky movies. In reporting on the film, Puck writer Matthew Belloni pointed out that half the audience for the movie has been between 18-34 (a demographic studios are always desperate to reach) and that three-quarters of the audience wasn’t white. Considering how Rocky Balboa’s target demographic was generally older white audiences, Jordan’s ability to appeal to more diverse audiences on such a visceral level becomes that much more impressive.

At the end of the day, we’ll probably never know why MGM felt the need to lie about this film’s budget, and it doesn’t look like they’ll be fessing up anytime soon. Then again, given how successful this film has been right out of the gate, the actual budget doesn’t really matter. Whether the overall profits are inflated by $15 million or not, Creed 3 is well on its way to becoming one of the most commercially successful and critically-acclaimed movies of the past year and might just dethrone the original Rocky as the best boxing movie ever made.