#Reviews and #BoxOffice performance of recent #superhero #movies

Do reviews influence box office performances for superhero franchises?

The three most regarded movie ratings are:

  • The TOMATOMETER is the percentage of “Approved Tomatometer Critics” who have given the movie a positive review. The site RottenTomatoes.com also features an Audience Score, percentage of users who have rated the movie 3.5 stars or higher, although its influence is generally taken less into consideration.

The website was launched in 1998, sold to Flixster in 2010, itself acquired in 2011 by Warner Bros., then sold in 2016 to Comcast/NBCUniversal’s Fandango Media, in which TimeWarner/WarnerBros retains a 30% minority stake.

  • The METASCORE is a weighted average of the published critic reviews contained in the chart on that title. The site also features a User Score based on users’ reviews.

The website MetaCritic.com was founded in 1999, sold in 2005 to CNET, which is owned through CBS Interactive by the CBS Corp. (which after the split from Viacom in 2005 no longer owns Paramount Pictures).

  • The IMDb RATING is the weighted average of all the individual votes cast by IMDb registered users. The Metascore is also visible next to the title.

The site IMDb.com was launched in 1990, incorporated in the UK as Internet Movie Database Ltd in 1996, became a subsidiary of Amazon.com in 1998.

Now let’s play a game and see to what extent reviews influenced the box office of superhero movies, wide release, budget $100M+. There is perhaps no path and probably no correlation at all. But let’s have some fun anyways and see if we can creatively draw any kind of conclusions, first for each franchise and then in general.

First of all, please note that each title will be followed by five numbers which represent respectively: Tomatometer (%) | Metascore | IMDb Rating | Domestic b.o. ($,M) | Foreign b.o. ($,M) | Opening ($,M). Indicators below 60 or 6.0 will be colored red.

Also, we will find out average scores for each franchise. We will select five titles for each “universe”. Yes, of course, there will be some forced and some exclusions. Please don’t get mad, purists. The single best one-to-one comparison would probably be Guardians of the Galaxy.

Finally, after having seen how much has each franchise grossed on average, using forecasts for DC Extended Universe’s Suicide Squad, we will see totals related to reviews and box office performances for the superhero genre.


DC Extended Universe (Warner Bros.) | 58 | 60 | 7.8 | 381 | 505 | 149

The Dark Knight (2008) | 94 | 82 | 9.0 | 535 | 470 | 158

The Dark Knight Rises (2012) | 87 | 78 | 8.5 | 448 | 637 | 161

Man of Steel (2013) | 55 | 55 | 7.2 | 291 | 377 | 117

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) | 27 | 44 | 6.9 | 330 | 542 | 166

Suicide Squad (2016) | 26 | 40 | 7.2 | 300 | 500 | 140

DC Comics movies were not particularly appreciated by critics, although fans liked them more than any other competing franchise and they generally responded well at the box office. Suicide Squad is expected to follow a similar path. They have the worst score in terms of critics ratings, best from fans, although open as strong as the Marvel movies.


Marvel Cinematic Universe (The Walt Disney Pictures) | 83 | 68 | 7.6 | 400 | 656 | 146

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) | 80 | 66 | 6.9 | 177 | 194 | 65

Marvel’s The Avengers (2012) | 92 | 69 | 8.1 | 623 | 896 | 207

Iron Man 3 (2013) | 79 | 62 | 7.2 | 409 | 806 | 174

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) | 91 | 76 | 8.1 | 330 | 440 | 94

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) | 75 | 66 | 7.5 | 459 | 946 | 191

Marvel movies were loved even more by critics than fans, they performed great domestically and fantastic internationally and most importantly they seem to be on a growing path. Best critics reviews, second-best fans ratings, by far best international performance.


X-Men (20th Century Fox) | 64 | 58 | 7.3 | 190 | 304 | 80

X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) | 58 | 58 | 6.8 | 234 | 225 | 103

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) | 38 | 40 | 6.7 | 180 | 193 | 85

X-Men: First Class (2011) | 86 | 65 | 7.8 | 146 | 207 | 55

X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) | 91 | 74 | 8.0 | 234 | 514 | 90

X-Men: Apocalypse (2016) | 48 | 52 | 7.3 | 155 | 379 | 66

X-Men movies were not particularly appreciated by critics although fans liked them, however they performed relatively poorly domestically due to bad openings but significantly better internationally in the medium run.


Spider-Man (Sony Pictures) | 74 | 67 | 6.9 | 316 | 477 | 102

Spider-Man (2002) | 89 | 73 | 7.3 | 404 | 418 | 115

Spider-Man 2 (2004) | 93 | 83 | 7.3 | 374 | 410 | 88

Spider-Man 3 (2007) | 63 | 59 | 6.2 | 337 | 554 | 151

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) | 73 | 66 | 7.0 | 262 | 496 | 62

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) | 52 | 53 | 6.8 | 203 | 506 | 92

Critics liked Spider-Man movies and fans were also happy on average, hurrying to purchase movie tickets especially in the early chapters of the franchise and despite relatively low openings.


Totals | 70 | 63 | 7.5 | 320 | 483 | 118

All in all, critics are only fairly excited by superhero movies whereas fans love them and respond exceptionally well hurrying to see them immediately in a movie theater and for long time after openings, in the United States as well as internationally. As expected, bad reviews by critics don’t seem to affect significantly their performance in the medium/long-run, although (with the exception of Batman v Superman) there seems to be a moderate correlation with the box office performance in the opening weekend.


Is China slowing down?

The Chinese box-office is up by 21% in the first 6 months of 2016 compared to the same period of last year when it amounted $3.22B. Last year it surged by 49% to $6.78B for the year.

So, are Chinese movie tickets sales slowing down?

It should be taken into account that in the first 6 months of last year Furious 7, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Jurassic World, which together grossed $860M were released, whereas this year the top 3 Hollywood releases, Zootopia, Warcraft, and Captain America: Civil War grossed $647M . In total, imported films have seen only 5% growth year-on-year, whereas domestic films have fared better, with receipts growing 33% from $1.5 billion to $2 billion in the first half due mostly to the exceptional results of The Mermaid, which grossed about $527M.


‘The Mermaid’ grossed $527M in China.

Therefore, so far we can’t claim any “conclusive change” in the general growth trend in the market, but a shift related to the titles that have been released so far in 2016 compared with 2015.

In addition, it should be taken into account that the 6-month average CNY to USD rate has fallen from 0.1608 to 0.1529 or 4.91%.

What we can claim for sure by now is that Chinese moviegoers have different tastes. For instance, Warcraft grossed $221M and only $46M domestically, on the contrary Star Wars: The Force Awakens grossed $124M in China and $937M domestically.

There is another big difference. Movie tickets are relatively more expensive in China than they are in the US, at least in the cities. The price of 2 tickets to the movies in Beijing is 元117 (元117) or $18 (about the same price of monthly utilities in a luxury studio in downtown) even though the average price is starting to slip — down about 2.5% to $5.36. IMAX and 3-D premiums are continuing to hold up and driving overall revenue. Also, another opportunity is given by the fact that movie tickets are usually cheaper when purchased online in advance.

All in all, China saw a 40% growth in screens, now totaling about 32,000 or about 23 every million people but box office was up 48% in 2015.

To sum up, there is still room for substantial growth in terms of exports, due also to their greater openness to welcome foreign product, however the Chinese market is now already mature enough to be worth of being considered in terms of major investments in local productions, co-productions, as well as joint ventures and stable distribution partnerships.

#GoldenGlobes and the box office


The five nominees in the Best Motion Picture, Drama category.

Best Motion Picture, Drama
Carol (The Weinstein Company) | $7,004,358 +  $8,402,177 | N/A
Mad Max: Fury Road (Warner Bros.) | $153,636,354 + $222,200,200 | $150M
WINNER: The Revenant (Fox) | $41,383,741 + $20,487,466 | $135M 
Room (A24) | $5,166,724 + N/A | N/A
Spotlight (Open Road) | $28,546,477 + $309,218 | N/A

‘The Revenant’ won the award and opened strongly, but the outsiders ‘Room’, ‘Carol’ and partly ‘Spotlight’, for some the most important movie of this batch but a difficult one, will hopefully gain stronger market traction in home video windows thanks to the visibility provided by the Golden Globes. The big “loser” in this category is ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’, which instead seems to be the only title meant to become a cult for the years to come and perform exceptionally in home video for long time, as showed by the extraordinary reception from the public: George Miller’s long-awaited return to the dusty dystopian Aussie badlands, which also won the prize for best-reviewed science-fiction movie, was named the top film on wide release after scoring a 97% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. How many times have you seen it? I watched it three times and I would watch it again. Pure adrenaline. Hopefully will get some recognition from the Academy.


The five nominees in the Best Motion Picture, Musical, or Comedy category.

Best Motion Picture, Musical, or Comedy
The Big Short (Paramount) | $42,724,340 + $9,700,000 | $28M
Joy (Fox) | $46,531,854 + $23,679,037 | $60M
WINNER: The Martian (Fox) | $226,486,935 + $369,269,299 | $108M
Spy (Fox) | $110,825,712 + $124,840,712 | $65M
Trainwreck (Universal) | $110,212,700 + $29,296,198 | $35M

Although funny at times, ‘The Martian’ should simply not have been placed in this category. Nonetheless, having grossed 62% outside the US, it “travels” much better than the usual comedy, thanks also to a very smart marketing campaign and, we shall say, thanks to Matt Damon. ‘Joy’ could have performed better but the release date (Christmas day) did not play in his favor. It is a wonderful story but, despite the amazing acting performances, seemed incomplete and pretentious sometimes. ‘The Big Short’ is the most original and even eccentric film in this category but as expected it has been struggling overseas due to the US-centered subject, despite the star-filled cast. ‘Spy’ and ‘Trainwreck’ both exceeded expectations, especially the very funny Paul Feig’s movie.


‘Inside Out’ producer Jonas Rivera and director Pete Docter.


Best Motion Picture, Animated
Anomalisa (Paramount) | $486,076 + N/A | $8M
The Good Dinosaur (Disney) | $117,438,706 + $148,700,000 | N/A
WINNER: Inside Out (Disney) | $356,461,711 + $499,668,421 | $175M
The Peanuts Movie (Fox) | $129,152,908 + $92,114,145 | $99M
Shaun the Sheep Movie (Lionsgate) | $19,375,982 + $64,100,000 | N/A

‘Inside Out’ is hands down the best animated film of 2015 from all point of views and a masterpiece for the years to come. Thanks, Pixar. Well done again, Disney. It also performed exceptionally well at the box office due to its cross-generational appeal, which is partially missing in the other nominees. ‘Anomalisa’ is a little gem that will be enjoyed by many in VOD.


Legend: Title (US Distributor) | Domestic gross + Foreign gross | Production budget

Source of data: BoxOfficeMojo.com

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, sleeper film for this Summer

Greg (Thomas Mann), a high school senior who is trying to blend in anonymously, avoids deeper relationships as a survival strategy for navigating the social minefield that is teenage life. He even describes his constant companion Earl (RJ Cyler), with whom he makes short film parodies of classic movies, as more of a ‘co-worker’ than a best friend. But when Greg’s mom (Connie Britton) insists he spend time with Rachel (Olivia Cooke) – a girl in his class who has just been diagnosed with cancer – he slowly discovers how worthwhile the true bonds of friendship can be.

Me & Earl & the Dying Girl is an upcoming American comedy-drama film, rated PG-13, directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (Glee, American Horror Story) and written by Jesse Andrews, based on Andrews’ 2012 debut novel of the same name, which sold more than 7 million copies. It stars Thomas Mann, Olivia Cooke (Ouija) and Jon Bernthal (Fury, The Wolf of Wall Street, The Walking Dead) and premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival to a standing ovation (http://variety.com/2015/film/festivals/sundance-film-review-me-and-earl-and-the-dying-girl-1201414455/). The production budget was about $5.6 million.

It won the U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic and the Audience Award for U.S. Drama at the festival. The film is scheduled to be released on June 12 by Fox Searchlight, which acquired the rights from Indian Paintbrush for about $8 million plus profit participation  winning the competition of many bidders including Focus Features, CBS Films, Lionsgate, A24, Miramax and TWC (http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/sundance-why-me-earl-dying-767545) and following a lot of media hype on the actual price tag (http://deadline.com/2015/01/me-and-earl-and-the-dying-girl-sundance-record-bidding-1201358903/).


Fox Searchlight, one of the best for taking care of this kind of films (see also Little Miss Sunshine) will follow the path traced by 20th Century Fox last year with the phenomenon The Fault In Our Stars, released on June 6, grossing $124 million domestically and $182 million internationally. The basic strategy is to counterprogram a sci-fi big-budget blockbuster: it was Edge of Tomorrow last year, it will be Jurassic World this year, leveraging on amazing reviews and positive word-of-mouth on social media (the film has currently 100% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, 8.3/10 on IMDb, 92/100 Metascore). It will start with a limited release but it is going to expand while consensus will grow and moviegoers will notice the quality of this little gem, which will hit the Summer market like a rain of sunshine after a rainstorm and gross at least $50 million domestically.

#CinemaCon2015 showcases great slates and stunning technologies

During the annual conference organized by the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) and held at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, the major Studios have as usual showcased their upcoming slates.

Not so usual however is the caliber and market potential of the movies, from Paramount‘s Summer 2015 star driven releases Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation and Terminator Genisys presented directly by Arnold and Tom, to Warner Bros‘s big event movies such as Mad Max: Fury Road, San Andreas, Black Mass, Point Break, Entourage, and of course Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.


Tom Cruise presents the new chapter of the Ethan Hunt’s saga.

From Disney‘s incredible 2015-2017 of epic hero driven slate including Avengers: Age of Ultron, Tomorrowland, Inside Out (screened in Dolby Vision), Ant-Man, Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, Captain America: Civil War, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, and Doctor Strange, to Sony‘s filmmaker driven movies such as Xmas, Spectre, Pixels, Aloha, Money Monster, Hotel Transylvania 2.


Preview screening of Inside Out, the new Pixar’s animation film, in Dolby Vision.

From Universal‘s franchise driven slate of films such as Ted 2, Pitch Perfect 2, Jurassic World, Minions, Fast and Furious 8, even with authorial additions such as Everest, Crimson Peak, Straight Outta Compton, and the new Illumination’s animation feature The Secret Life of Pets, to Fox‘s author driven and internationally oriented films such as Ridley Scott’s The Martian, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s The Revenant starring Leonardo Di Caprio, David O. Russel’s Joy, the new animation film The Peanuts Movie, and then Hitman Agent 47, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four, Paul Feig’s Spy (also featured during the following party), Paper Towns.


Paul Feig entertains the attendees of the Spy Party.

But CinemaCon means also the trade fair where hundreds of vendors showcase their products to the theater owners and film industry professionals: besides concessions and seating solutions, marketing and analytics tools and apps among which startups such as Dealflicks, Intensnet, Showtime Analytics and Peach Digital, make their way among established companies such as online ticketing/marketing providers Fandango and MovieTickets, POS providers RTS, NCR, Vista, and technology providers such as Imax, Barco, Cinemeccanica, Christie, 4DX, and Dolby, official sponsor this year with its new Vision system, based on wider color gamut and high dynamic range (HDR).

Also emerging as main point from panels discussions, one consideration needs to be made at this point: on one side the vendors and the real estate investors seem to be pushing toward building more and bigger theaters and upgrading technology turning theaters into high-end all entertainment venues for tenth-pole big event movies and richer audiences, on the other marketeers, filmmakers and distributors, together with smaller theater owners are wondering how to get teenagers back to be frequent moviegoers leveraging timely releasing and smart pricing strategies, an analysis that needs to take into account what is happening in the digital space – i.e. the shrinking windows and the increasingly common day-and-date releases. A lot of work has to be done in this respect and the different parts of the industry are responsible to seek win-win solutions, with the primary objective of protecting the moviegoing experience and ultimately making consumers happy, the one and only way to drive revenue up. For the film industry to thrive, no one should be left behind: many theater owners (the majority of attendees of CinemaCon, the ones outside the big chains) cannot keep the pace with continuous investments in technology while facing diminishing margins and lower attendance. New technologies are desirable only if the demand justifies the need of new investments: mature markets such as North America and Europe are struggling in this respect, whereas biggest part of the growth is coming from Asia, China in particular (see https://flixbiz.com/2015/03/12/global-box-office-inflated-by-chinese-wind-us-suffering/).


The legendary Clint Eastwood interviewed by Stephen Galloway, THR.

CinemaCon was also the moment to honor the careers of great executives such as Fox’s Chief Jim Gianopoulos recipient of the Pioneer of the Year award, and Warner’s SVP Asia Distribution Erlina Surharjono recipient of the Passepartout Award, and to celebrate stars like Julianne Moore and legends like Clint Eastwood, recipient of the Fandango Fan Choice Award for Favorite Film of 2014 for the surprising results of American Sniper. In particular, the director told the audience about his working style and his incredible career, disclosing also some funny anecdotes – i.e. very few people know that Sergio Leone did not speak english and he did not speak Italian, but they could understand each other using the secret language of filmmaking.


The 2015 Big Screen Achievement Awards.

The Big Screen Achievement Awards ended the 4-day convention with the bubbly and at times hilarious appearances of Alan Arkin – Lifetime Achievement Award, Elizabeth Banks – Breakthrough Filmmaker of the Year, Francis Lawrence – Director of the Year, Amy Schumer – Breakthrough Performer of the Year, again Paul Feig – Comedy Filmmaker of the Year, again Julianne Moore – CinemaCon Vanguard Award, Kevin Hart – Comedy Star of the Year, Rose Byrne – Female Star of the Year, Paul Rudd – Male Star of the Year.

There was also a final party sponsored by Coca-Cola at the Caesar’s Palace pool but that must stay outside of the chronicles because what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas!