Saturday, August 15, 2015

Superhero Movies -- Data for Discussion, courtesy of the Washington Post


Doug: I read the following article from a link on Twitter last night and I thought I'd bring it over here for discussion over the weekend. All words and graphics are copyright the Washington Post and the authors and creators named within, and no infringement of those rights is intended. Hey, around here we just need a good topic to discuss!

The biggest superhero movie flops and successes of all time

The movie had a disappointing opening weekend, grossing only about $26 million at the box office.

But the real embarrassment was the critical reaction. The movie has a 9 percent rating on review site Rotten Tomatoes, the lowest score earned by the dozens of films that have been based on Marvel comics.

Film studios have released a barrage of superhero movies in the past few decades, ranging from flops like the “Fantastic Four” to successes like 2012’s “The Avengers." And as the charts below show, the competition between the two main superhero franchises, Marvel and DC comics, shows no signs of slowing.

Marvel has Spider-Man, Wolverine and the rest of the X-Men, Captain America and the Avengers, and the Fantastic Four. DC, on the other hand, gave the world Superman, Batman, Catwoman, the Joker, and Wonder Woman. The two franchises have been battling for eyeballs since the 1930s, but have seen their rivalry strengthen with the growing popularity of the big budget Hollywood superhero movie.

As the graphic below shows, movies based on DC Comics characters outpaced those of Marvel before 2000, including "Superman" in 1978, "Batman" in 1989, and "Batman and Robin" in 1997.
But in the last 16 years, the Marvel franchise caught up fast. According to data from Box Office Mojo, 36 superhero films have been released based on Marvel comics since 2000, including "X-Men" in 2000, "Spider-Man" in 2002, and "Iron Man" in 2008.


In terms of how individual movies have performed at the box office, however, Marvel and DC are more neck-and-neck.

The charts below show how the top five grossing movies based on Marvel and DC comics, with box office revenues adjusted for inflation. Marvel's top five grossing movies (in red) only earned about $139 million more than DC's films (in blue) have.

One interesting thing is how much of a mark DC's classic movies made -- "The Dark Knight" (2008) is its top earner, but the original "Batman" (1989) ranks second, and "Superman" (1978) and "Batman Forever" (1995) also make the list.


The next chart shows the five least successful movies from Marvel and DC in terms of box office revenues. Here, earnings from movies based on Marvel comics outstrip those based on DC comics by about $72 million.


The record among critics, shown in the chart below, is a little more mixed. For whatever reason, Marvel films seem to do better on Rotten Tomatoes, while DC films fare well on Metacritic. Here are the Marvel and DC superhero movies with the best and worst reviews of all time:


Part of the reason for Marvel's success may be the strategy. By creating so movies around individual characters, and then tying their story lines together in a big ensemble movie like "The Avengers," the franchise has connected audiences with unfamiliar characters.

Competitors have taken notice. In March, Warner Brothers is due to release a new superhero movie in which DC's favorite sons, Superman and Batman, face off against one another, "putting mankind in greater danger than it's ever known before." Given that kind of rivalry, expect more superhero battles to come.


12 comments:

William said...

The one thing that all of the "Lowest Grossing" superhero movies have in common, is that they were all terrible. So we, the movie going public, aren't as stupid as the Hollywood studios seem to think. We know the difference between a good movie and bad one.

Dear Hollywood, just because you slap a Marvel logo on it, doesn't mean people are going to pay to see it if it's not a well crafted story. So, please quit insulting our intelligence with pieces of garbage like the new FF movie.

Garett said...

Some movies I'd like to see from DC:
Kamandi
Warlord
Teen Titans
Shazam
Manhunter (Goodwin/Simonson style)
JLA
JSA
Huntress
Swamp Thing (with better effects and story than the '80s version)
OMAC
New Gods
Deadman

Lots of potential there outside of just Superman and Batman. Also I see DC has made more movies in the last 15 years from their Vertigo line. Mostly successful, as you can see at the bottom here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_films_based_on_DC_Comics

Road to Perdition, Constantine, etc.

Anonymous said...

@Garett: Some interesting ideas there. I'd love to see a Titans movie...Legion would be good too. I'm assuming they probably will get to a JLA movie eventually. They might bring the JSA into the DC television universe (we know Jay Garrick is appearing, so hopefully the rest of the JSA will show up too).

I think Deadman or Warlord might work better as a TV show...the stories kind of fit the episodic format. If Oliver grows a goatee, Warlord could even cross over with Arrow!

Mike Wilson

Garett said...

Hey Mike, yes I think you're right about Deadman and Warlord. Either would have plenty of possible stories to tell in a tv series, with an overall quest involved. Haha, yes beard meets beard!

Colin Bray said...

I'm not at all a movie guy but it appears the Marvel/DC movie rivalry is patterning itself on the original comic version.

In both cases DC get there first and write the original rulebook with Superman and Batman. Then Marvel come along with fresh style and continuity, whip away the prize and leave DC scrambling to catch up.

Colin Bray said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kenn Dunn said...

Looking strictly at the stats, if I were investing, I would stay away from any movie with a female central figure.

Humanbelly said...

Ah Kenn-- but that's the kind of thinking that keeps anything new and good from ever being attempted. How many folks EVER anticipated the huge success of the GotG film? Seemed like a huge risk, I'm sure, to many stat-focused studio accountants, y'know? Have any superhero films w/ a female central figure been good films as well? Ones that were simply underapreciated? Catwoman? Supergirl? Electra? (I haven't seen any of them, so my judgment is still suspect).

I would love to see a She-Hulk film-- but no one's ever going to take that leap. Plus, who do you cast? Julie Newmar's waaaaay too old, and would still have needed to beef up a bit. . .

HB

Anonymous said...

A film like Catwoman bombs not because it has a central female figure but because it was a horrible film in the first place. Mark my words, some studio (either DC or Marvel) one of these days is gonna put together the magic combination of a great script, great actress and great reviews. So far, we the viewing public have been waiting in vain for such a film. I for one hope that either a Captain Marvel or a standalone Wonder Woman movie will finally deliver!


- Mike 'women's lib' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Edo Bosnar said...

Yeah, I'm with Mike from T&T: a blockbuster with a female lead is possible, it's just a matter of putting the right effort into it. And I think Marvel Studios can pull this off, based on their output so far. I'm really looking forward to the Captain Marvel movie (and still miffed that there has not been, nor even plans for, a Black Widow film).

Humanbelly said...

I wonder if the lack of a BW feature film might have more to do with Marvel Studios recognizing that the espionage/spy flick market is already pretty darned saturated with long-established franchises? That's really the genre her film would likely fall into, and it's awfully hard to to bring much new (other than a female protagonist) to that table.

Say, I've never seen it-- how was AEON FLUX? That would fall under the heading of female superhero, wouldn't it?

HB

Kenn Dunn said...

That's why I used the disclaimer that the conclusion I reached was by looking strictly at the stats. A female-centric movie done well is something I'd love to see, but I can also why investors would be leery of such a venture.
Edo: I believe the highest grossing flick for the last couple of weeks was/is Mission Impossible, which would be Natasha's genre. So the saturation level has not yet been reached, apparently.
Mike: I DO think the Ms. Marvel movie could break tradition simply because Marvel has made it so that even if the viewer isn't in love with the character, the individual films tie into the whole in such a way that you feel that you've missed something if you've skipped one. (Not sure how that will work with the new JL films by DC.)

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