It’s no secret that superheroes rule the box office. Studios are scrambling to tap into the genre with whatever comics characters they may have the rights to, and ever since The Avengers, the goal has now been to build interconnected superhero universes that tell stories across multiple films and characters. The 2014 slate has its fair share of superhero blockbusters, but halfway into the year we’ve already seen most of them. With Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and X-Men: Days of Future Past having already opened in theaters, that leaves us with only Marvel’s August offering Guardians of the Galaxy and Disney’s animated Big Hero 6 in November.
Seeing as how the longevity of superhero adaptations is predicated upon how well the films do at the box office, we felt now would be a good time to take a look at how Cap 2, Spider-Man 2, and X-Men fared at both the domestic and international box office this year, and how they stack up to previous installments in their respective franchises. Read on after the jump.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Domestic: $255.2 million
International: $454.1 million
Worldwide: $709.3 million
Captain America: The First Avenger worldwide total: $370.6 million
Though the summer blockbuster season traditionally begins in May, we got our first big superhero movie of 2014 back in April with the Marvel follow-up Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The character is a fan favorite, but audiences were a bit wary of the film given that it marked the big-budget debut of directors Joe and Anthony Russo, whose previous filmography included the comedy You, Me and Dupree and work on television shows like Arrested Development and Community. The apprehension turned out to be unnecessary, as the resulting product pleased die-hard fans and critics alike, with audiences sparking to the pic to the tune of over $700 million worldwide and a $95 million opening weekend.
We already knew that the box office of The Winter Soldier would build on its predecessor given that it’s not only a sequel to the first Cap film but also to The Avengers, but the worldwide pull of $709.3 million was quite impressive, dwarfing the $370.6 million take of the original. It didn’t come close to Iron Man 3’s $409 million domestic and $1.2 billion worldwide haul from last May, but The Winter Soldier did surpass Thor: The Dark World’s $206.3 million domestic and $644.7 million worldwide take.
Marvel bosses were clearly happy, signing the Russo brothers to return to helm Captain America 3 and setting that film for release in Phase Three on May 6, 2016. The pic also set an average box office range for Phase Two films not called “Iron Man 3”, so it will be interesting to see if Guardians of the Galaxy can match it this August. Regardless, Captain America 2 set a pretty high bar for the subsequent superhero films of 2014 to match.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
International: $497.3 million
Worldwide: $690.4 million
The Amazing Spider-Man worldwide total: $757.9 million
Sony rebooted its Spider-Man franchise in 2012 to somewhat positive results with The Amazing Spider-Man. The Marc Webb-directed reboot didn’t garner stellar reviews, but it wasn’t eviscerated either. The film did solid box office, but it wasn’t anything astronomical. Essentially, The Amazing Spider-Man was fine. The pressure was on for the sequel, though, as Sony started laying the groundwork for an interconnected universe of Spider-Man films using the litany of Spidey villains from the comics. The budget grew, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan, Paul Giamatti, and Chris Cooper joined the cast, and Sony was aiming for Avengers-style box office.
Though the film pulled in a seemingly impressive $91.6 million in its opening weekend, reviews were harsh and bad word-of-mouth led to a drop of over 60% in its second weekend. The film is still playing in theaters so its box office numbers will continue to grow slightly, but since we’re five weeks into release they’re not expected to rise much. The sequel will be lucky if it reaches $200 million domestically, and that $91.6 million opening weekend is doubly disappointing when you take into account that Sam Raimi’s original movie scored $114.8 million in 2002 dollars without the help of 3D ticket prices.
In fact, each Spider-Man movie has made less than its predecessor, with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 on track to be the lowest grossing (and likely most expensive) of the bunch. Sony has already dated The Amazing Spider-Man 3 for release in 2016 and The Amazing Spider-Man 4 for 2018 with Venom and The Sinister Six spinoffs in the works as well, but given that their most recent effort was a series low point, it’ll be interesting to see if they course-correct.
X-Men: Days of Future Past
Current international: $344.4 million
Current worldwide: $509.6 million
X-Men: First Class worldwide: $353.6 million
Fox’s superhero “inbetweenquel” has only been in theaters for three weeks so these numbers are only temporary, but anticipation was insanely high for this seventh X-Men film. The movie not only returned X-Men and X2 helmer Bryan Singer to the director’s chair, but it combined almost the entire original cast with the new First Class actors. Thankfully, reviews were positive and audience reaction was rather enthusiastic. The film’s opening weekend take of $90.8 million fell just short of Captain America 2 and The Amazing Spider-Man 2, but it appears to have a bit more longevity than the latter.
Of course, May is a competitive month and with a number of other blockbusters on tap for the coming weeks, Days of Future Past likely won’t have the legs to push its domestic total above that of X-Men: The Last Stand’s $234.3 million. It will probably top out around $220 million stateside—not a disappointment, but not a huge win either given how much anticipation surrounded its release. That said, the worldwide total of Days of Future Past has already surpassed all of the previous X-Men films.
Fox has already dated the sequel, X-Men: Apocalypse, for May 27, 2016, and though the franchise is now nearly a decade and a half old, the positive reviews for Days of Future Past and solid box office are proof that the series is far from dead.
Next up, Marvel’s risky Guardians of the Galaxy opens August 1st.