The Box Office Breakdown
A look at comic book movies and their performance at the box office over time. Which movies are bombs? Which have been successful?
It's no secret that The Dark Knight and the Spider-Man films have been hugely successful at the box office. The Dark Knight took in an astounding $533 million dollars at the domestic box office as well as breaking (and stil holding) 23 records for box office performance. The Spider-Man franchise has taken in over $1.1 billion dollars total. And of course, we can not forget the Iron Man and X-Men franchises that have brought in $630 million and $784 million, respectively. These franchises are among the most profitable in film history, and with the exception of a few of them, they are all critically acclaimed a nd adored by fans, making them extremely successful in all aspects.
I've decided to take a look at the comic book movies over the past 30 years or so and examine their Box Office takes. I have found some pretty interesting things, one of them has me surprised that studios and Hollywood even continue to look at comics and graphic novels for inspiration any more.
I'd like to clarify the definition of what a "Box Office Bomb/Flop" actually is first of all. When looking at whether or not a film is a success, you have to compare the budget of the film compared to the DomesticBox Office take. For the sake of this article and in the United States in general, the domestic take is consists of the Box Office numbers from both the United States and Canada. The World Wide Gross would be everything outside of the US and Canada. In order for a film to be considered a "Bomb/Flop," the domestic gross has to be less than the production costs. The information I have provided does not account for marketing costs for the movies, so there can add in several million dollars on top of the production costs.
I have already discussed the most profitable comic book films in my opening word above, so lets take a gander at the movies that have performed less than stellar. The most recent bomb would be Edgar Wright's Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.The movie had a budget of about $60 million and took in a mere $32 million domestically. What is surprising about this movie is that is loved by fans and, for the most part, liked by critics. It is a young and hip movie, targeted towards one of the most desired demographics out there: young, teen boys. But for what ever reason, it failed to produce the numbers that were expected of it.
Another notable failure would be the ever-popular Catwoman, starring HalleBerry. This movie was given a budget of $100 million, which is a pretty good sized budget for a comic book movie. This little gem took in just over $40 domestically and $82 million world wide. I think we all know why this film didn't work. A terrible storyline and a bad choice in a lead actress are at the top of a very long list.
There are several films that can technically be called bombs that really surprised me; most of which are right on the cusp of being successful. Some surprised me because of how bad the movies actually is and how much said movies brought in. Others, I thought they actually performed better than they did:
Hellboy $66 million budget $60 million domestic take
Hellboy II $85 million budget $76 million domestic take
Watchmen $130 million budget $108 million domestic take
Superman Returns $270 million budget $200 million domestic take
The Incredible Hulk $150 million budget $135 million domestic take
Now, you would think that a film that rakes in over $200 million would be a box office hit, but when you dump $270 million into said film, things don't quite balance out. However, if you look at Hellboy, it is right on the threshold of being a successful movie, enough so that a sequel (and hopefully a third...del Tor? Are you listening?) was put into production. Hellboy II: The Golden Army performed in pretty much the same fashion as it's predecessor did, coming just shy of breaking even.
So what is the biggest comic book movie box office bomb? It all depends on how you look at it. If you look at just the domestic gross and ignore the film budget, then that would be The Punisher: War Zone, which brought in a staggering (<---- Sarcasm) $8 million domestically. but if you take the film's budget into account, then the biggest bomb would be the Josh Brolin starred Jonah Hex. With a budget of about $47 million and an domestic gross of about $10.5 million, it only made 21% of it's money back.
How about the most successful comic book movie? I think it goes without saying that the highest grossing movie would be The Dark Knight. But, if you look at the amount of money grossed compared to it's budget, the winner would yet again involve the Bat. However, you'd have to go back to 1989. Tim Burton's Batmanhad a budget of $35 million and took in about $251 million. They gained back an unbelievabele 717% on their "investment," so to speak.
One of the most surprising thing that I discovered was that out of the 54 comic book movies I looked at, 22 of those can officially be called flops. That is nearly half of all CBM's that have failed to make their money back. If i were to account for the marketing costs, that number would grow from 22 to 27, making it exactly half of them. This actually makes me wonder why Hollywood continues to look at comic books and graphic novels as a source for films. Obviously, a film like Iron Manhas proven that a second tier character (as far as the general public is concerned) can be successful. But I am surprised to see that they continue to adapt lesser known characters and stories such as The Losersand The Surrogates.
What it comes down to I guess is that, as with any film, it is just a gamble as to what movie-goers will like and dislike. As long as Hollywood and it's studios are willing to put money into characters that many of us never thought would ever see on screen (and do them justice), then I'm OK with this. Hopefully, the "suits' will take a step back and take a look at what has been successful and take some notes. Not only should they be look at which CBM's have been successful, but more importantly, WHAT made them successful. We have seen time and time again that just because you have an A-list actor in your movie, it does not mean box office gold.
Tell me what you think. I have all the box office numbers, budgets and the like, so if you want more info on certain movies, let me know, I can get it posted. On a side note, I do not confess to beeing a math genius, so if the above numbers don't calculate, blame my local education system for my inadequacies.
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