May 14, 2016


Tell me, do you make a profit?

There are many (way too many) things on the internet about whether Batman vs. Superman is a good movie, a shit movie, a movie that tries too hard, that doesn't try hard enough, that... oh, well, you know what I mean. 

And there usually is no debate, just a lot of screaming on every side, and I say this as somebody who loves two Zach Snyder movies (Dawn of the Dead and 300, respectively), who loathes two others (guess the two, win a No-Prize, yes, that is how old I am, I remember those, well, actually I don't, but it sure sounds like I know stuff, right?), and somebody who's had a lot of issues with both his Superman movies, but more with his take on Superman himself. 

But those are personal opinions, and the way the Intertubes work, personal opinions are way too quickly dressed up as facts, with the latest being, "this movie is an unqualified success! How dare you question it! Marvel Geek Boy! Disney Shill!" vs "It is an utter failure, you Doomsday Ass Fucker!"I hate both of those sides, because they both are... retarded.

Now, let us look at this without any passion (I know, that is hard to do because in today's Intertube Retardedness, emotion is everything, and it is even “better” when it can be condensed into 140 characters)

So, with that in mind, we shall look at the numbers (as far as they are known, I warn you, some of this will be a bit fudgy, but while I could spreadsheet the shit out of this down to nickel and dime if I had the actual numbers, yeah, dream on, we can actually look at whether the ballpark figures add up, kinda sorta).

First, costs.

We go with the lower end of the production cost here, which is according to the Hollywood Reporter's latest story

$ 225 million

This does not account for marketing. Forbes puts the marketing costs at $ 165 million

This might be an accurate number, but for this purpose we shall peg it down a notch (because they always inflate numbers, for both grosses and costs), so shall work with this number

$ 125 million

This brings the TOTAL COSTS of Batman vs Superman to

$ 350 million

(fans always tend to forget, yes, marketing costs money, a lot of it, it makes every big tentpole a huge risk as well as potentially very rewarding)

Now… here is where it gets a little bit complicated.

Because not all movie gross dollars are equal.

If you run the numbers for most big blockbusters, what you ideally will want is a 50-50 split between domestic (US) and intl. box office, for a simple reason. The more it is skewered towards intl, the deeper you are in shit as a studio.


Because the percentage of the gross varies very fucking wildly from territory to territory. In China, e.g., you net only 25 cents per dollar earned at the box office, whereas e.g. in Japan you net about 83 cents. What most industry watchers go with, it is a number of 33% from all intl. territories combined on average (not mathematically the best way to go, but workable)

Meanwhile, the US has an average of 50 cents per dollar that you get to keep, and depending on your power and control, you might even get 60 to 70% over the opening weekend (I couldn't find, though, if Warner had a deal like that for Batman v Superman, so we shall go with the 50% number, okay?)

The movie grossed 37.7% of its overall gross of $ 863 million in the USA.That means at 325.1 million gross a profit of$ 162.5 million

Let us keep that number in mind.

Now, the rest is – according to the Hollywood Reporter – divided up as follows 

Can anybody in class point out the problem?



The second largest chunk of gross comes from…… China.

Remember, boys and girls? That is the country where you get just 25 cents on the dollar.So, the $ 95 million they grossed there comes out to just

$ 23,75 million.

We are now at a profit of

$ 186,25 million… with China and US combined.

The other $ 442,9 million we shall divide up by the average used in industry watcher's overall analysis, so at 33%, which makes that an additional $ 147,6 million. 

Put that together, and we arrive at a current net income for Warner of

$ 333,88 million

Now, which one of you in class remembers the overall costs of the movie?

Hm? Bueller?

Yes, $ 350 million (at the low end of what was given to the media, and with me subtracting a substantial 40 million of the marketing costs as given by the Forbes article)

Now, we do a little math.The movie is still in the red by about

$ 16 million

Mind you, this is only box office, not including the long tail of Blu Ray, TV, ancillaries etc, so the movie will get a nice profit in the end, even with Blu Ray movie sales being essentially flat and coming in at a higher cost than old DVDs once were.

However, we can conclude that for the moment at least, Batman vs. Superman is a bomb. 

I'm sorry.

This has no bearing on whether it was a good movie or not (if you look at Transformers, movies I loathe with a passion, they turned quite a good profit despite losing ground in the USA as well)

The notion if it is a good movie and widely accepted, that will only bear out in potential sequels. 

Considering that even a widely-liked movie like Avengers faltered in its second outing, it is likely – but not a given – that a sequel might falter badly. 

However, this is also counter-acted by the Wonder Woman movie and the fact that the sequel will be called Justice League, which like Batman vs. Superman, has a built-in hype machine.

There we go.

No passion. 

Just numbers.