Super Hero Movie Math – Marvel Studios edition!
IMHO
by Chris Morris

1-marvel-studios

*With apologies to GGA’s resident math-man KP Hart… ☺

A week or so ago, I wrote an article about Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice The Final Verdict that talked about whether or not this blockbuster film actually made money or not. And prior to this, to research, I scoured the internet and found out that a lot of people didn’t know what the word “Profit” meant; especially when it came to movies and box office receipts. I don’t even know all the numbers and I’ve studied this subject for years. I mean, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy apparently lost money, people! Those poor hobbits!

For instance, people think that you take A) the movie’s budget and subtract that number from B) the movie’s box office totals and BOOM! there’s your answer as to whether or not the movie made money. That is incorrect. There is A LOT more to it than that. For one example, the “Domestic” Box Office number is always less than what is reported. Depending on the studio/distribution company/movie theatre chain, the box office totals can be divided evenly, or on a percentage, the studios getting all of opening weekend and theaters getting more and more as the movies stay in theaters, and other such headache-inducing math stuff. Also, the budget never includes things like Marketing, which, as a current standard, is usually at least $100 million, some up to $125 or $150 million for the major blockbusters.

But I wanted answers, and even rudimentary ones would suffice! So at first, I studied the box office totals of the Marvel Studios films, since the beginning with Iron Man. In other articles I will direct the modern DC films as well as the Fox/Sony Marvel films.

So how does this whole math-thingy work? As I said before, Marketing, on an average, costs around $100 million, so we’ll assume that for all the films mentioned, even though some could have spent more or less. Foreign Box office numbers out of China are a mystery to most Hollywood insiders, so we’ll keep those numbers the same. But Domestic, on average, usually ends up divided in half between studios and theatres. So Budget + Marketing = Total Expenses. Then Domestic + Foreign Box office = Total Box office. But Domestic is divided by two. So Domestic in half plus Foreign = Total Box Office. Then Total Box Office minus Total Expenses and we have our overly-simplistic-most-basic-possible-for-a-non-math-guy-like-me “Total”. And using this rudimentary method, we get an idea of which movies were the most profitable….and we get an idea why, for instance, no one seems to be in a hurry to make a 3rd HULK movie…even if Mark Ruffalo would knock that sh*t out of the park!

Marvel Studios
In chronological order:

M Payoff 1sht

 

Iron Man
Budget $140 million
Marketing $100 million
Total Expenses = $240 million

Box office:
$318 million domestic
$267 million foreign
= $585 million
– 1/2 domestic ($159 million)
Total Box Office = $426 million

Total $ Made
= $186 million

3-the-incredible-hulk

The Incredible Hulk
Budget $150 million
Marketing $100 million
Total Expenses = $250 million

Box office:
$135 million domestic
$127 million foreign
= $263 million
– 1/2 domestic ($67 million)
Total Box Office = $196 million

Total $ Made:
= – $54 million

4-Iron_Man_2

Iron Man 2
Budget $200 million
Marketing $100 million
Total Expenses = $300 million

Box office:
$312 million domestic
$311 million foreign
= $623 million
– 1/2 domestic ($156 million)
Total Box Office = $467 million

Total $ Made:
= $167 million

5-CaptainAmericaTheFirstAvenger

Captain America: The First Avenger
Budget $140 million
Marketing $100 million
Total Expenses = $240 million

Box office
$176 million domestic
$193 million foreign
= $370 million
– 1/2 domestic ($88 million)
Total Box Office = $282 million

Total $ Made:
= $42 million

*note: ironically, Captain AMERICA is the first Marvel movie where the Foreign Box Office is bigger than Domestic (and that’s before we cut Domestic in half…)

6-thormovie

Thor
Budget $150 million
Marketing $100 million
Total Expenses = $250 million

Box office
$181 million domestic
$268 million foreign
= $449 million
– 1/2 domestic ($91 million)
Total Box Office = $358 million

Total $ Made:
= $108 million

avengers

 

The Avengers
Budget $220 million
Marketing $100 million
Total Expenses = $320 million

Box office:
$623 million domestic
$896 million foreign
= $1.519 billion
– 1/2 domestic ($312 million)
Total Box Office = $1.207 billion

Total $ Made:
= $887 million

Iron_Man_3

Iron Man 3
Budget $200 million
Marketing $100 million
Total Expenses = $300 million

Box office:
$409 million domestic
$806 million foreign
= $1.215 billion
– 1/2 domestic ($205 million)
Total Box Office = $1.010 billion

Total $ Made:
= $710 million

*note: 1st Marvel Studios film where Foreign Box Office is (practically) double the Domestic Box Office (and again, that’s before we cut Domestic in half)

9-Thor-_The_Dark_World

Thor: The Dark World
Budget $170 million
Marketing $100 million
Total Expenses = $270 million

Box office
$206 million domestic
$438 million foreign
= $644 million
– 1/2 domestic ($103 million)
Total Box Office = $541 million

Total $ Made:
= $272 million

10-Captain-America-The-Winter-Soldier-image-captain-america-the-winter-soldier

Captain America: The Winter Solider
Budget $170 million
Marketing $100 million
Total Expenses = $270 million

Box office
$259 million domestic
$454 million foreign
= $713 million
– 1/2 domestic ($129 million)
Total Box Office = $584 million

Total $ Made:
= $314 million

guardians of the galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy
Budget $195.9 million
Marketing $100 million
Total Expenses = $295.9 million

Box office
$333 million domestic
$440 million foreign
= $773 million
– 1/2 domestic ($167 million)
Total Box Office = $606 million

Total $ Made:
= $310 million

12-ageofultron

Avengers: Age of Ultron
Budget $250 million
Marketing $100 million
Total Expenses = $350 million

Box office
$459 million domestic
$946 million foreign
= $1.405 billion
– 1/2 domestic ($230 million)
Total Box Office = 1.175 billion

Total $ Made:
= $825 million

antman

 

Ant-Man
Budget $130 million
Marketing $100 million
Total Expenses = $230 million

Box office:
$180 million domestic
$339 million foreign
= $519 million
– 1/2 domestic ($90 million)
Total Box Office = $429 million

Total $ Made:
= $199 million

14-Civil_War

Captain America: Civil War
Budget $250 million
Marketing $100 million
Total Expenses = $350 million

Box office
$391 million domestic
$742 million foreign
= $1.133 billion
– 1/2 domestic ($196 million)
Total Box Office = $937 million

Total $ Made:
= $587 million

———————————–

So after all those numbers and math and stuff, here’s what we come up with. No real surprise at the top of the list, The Avengers, Age of Ultron, Iron Man 3 and Civil War all made over a billion dollars, so of course they made money. And aren’t Hollywood execs praying to their money-Gods that the Foreign Box Office is so profitable? Once you get past the 1st Captain America movie, Guardians of the Galaxy is the only film where Foreign BO and Domestic BO are even close, and that’s before the final number cuts Domestic in half. Needless to say, without the Foreign markets, the super hero movie landscape and the entire movie-making landscape would be different. But that’s the top of the list…what about the bottom of the list?

In profit-making order:

The Avengers
Total $ Made:
= $887 million

Avengers: Age of Ultron
Total $ Made:
= $825 million

Iron Man 3
Total $ Made:
= $710 million

Captain America: Civil War
Total $ Made:
= $587 million (and growing)

Captain America: The Winter Solider
Total $ Made:
= $314 million

Guardians of the Galaxy
Total $ Made:
= $310 million

Thor: The Dark World
Total $ Made:
= $272 million

Ant-Man
Total $ Made:
= $199 million

Iron Man
Total $ Made
= $186 million

Iron Man 2
Total $ Made:
= $167 million

Thor
Total $ Made:
= $108 million

Captain America: The First Avenger
Total $ Made:
= $42 million

The Incredible Hulk
Total $ Made:
= – $54 million

Now remember, even with my rudimentary knowledge of the way Hollywood works (can someone seriously explain to me “The Nut” and I don’t mean dirty stuff) and remember my rudimentary knowledge of math, if these numbers are even close, then no wonder Marvel doesn’t want another Hulk movie in the world. Ed Norton’s Hulk movie is NEGATIVE $54 million. And shockingly, the 1st Captain America movie only made $42 million, which is hilarious seeing as he’s now seemingly the face of the Marvel Universe going forward (with RDJ’s Iron Man seemingly happy with just guest starring in films from now on). Considering these numbers, looking back was Iron Man 2 a (relative) flop? And remember how big the 1st Iron Man was? Well, Ant-Man made more of a profit overall. In fact, it made profit than a movie starring Superman, and who ever would have guessed THAT, but that’s another article….

So that’s it for Marvel Studios/Disney. How do you think Dr. Strange is going to measure up?

Next time: DC/WB films from the recent past…

Follow Chris Morris on twitter, here!

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Chris Morris is a filmmaker, world-traveller and comic book writer. He’s currently working on “The Supers: the 3rd Best Super-Team in the World”