ByJim Shelley, writer at
Jim Shelley

It's been a tough couple weeks for the Justice League movie,

  • First there was the news that Warner Brothers might put the movie on hold until they see how Man of Steel does at the box office. (more on that in a second),
  • Then Mark Millar dissed the movie in way that is going to get some tongues wagging by saying the Silver Age heroes are a bit dated and out of touch with modern sensibilities. (Which seems a little ridiculous when you consider most of the Marvel characters were also created during the Silver Age, but slung mud still sticks.)
  • Now it appears the first script has been tossed which will definitely delay the movie even if WB decides to go with it.

At this point, the Man Of Steel is going to have to hit pretty big to keep the project going. Which got me thinking: Exactly what is the dollar target MoS needs to hit to be successful?

Doing a bit of research, I found out some interesting things (to me) about how movie companies and movie theaters split their revenue.

I had always heard it was based on a sort of sliding scale with the companies getting the lions share the first week and then getting less as each week progressed. Apparently, that has changed some - now movie companies negotiate a standard cut with the theater regardless of which week it is. Now theaters can get between 45% to 60% of the box office every week.

From an article on io9:

You can actually look at the securities filings for the big theater chains, to look at how much of their ticket revenues go back to the studios, points out Stone. So for example, the latest quarterly filing by Cinemark Holdings, shows that 54.5 percent of its ticket revenues went to the distributors. So as a ballpark figure, studios generally take in around 50-55 percent of U.S. box office money.

Also, apparently foreign box office is NOT very lucrative because the splits there are even worse.

According to the book The Hollywood Economist by Edward Jay Epstein, studios take in about 40 percent of the revenue from overseas release — and after expenses, they're lucky if they take in 15 percent of that number.

The article also says that while DVD sales used to be something studios could count on to help a movie break even, that has become less true starting in 2009 as DVD revenue has gotten weaker. The article suggests Netflix might be the reason for this - which would explain why Time Warner hates Netflix so much.

Taking all that in consideration, with a production budget of 225 million, lets say (using worse case percentages from above) Man of Steel will need $250 million domestic and $250 million global to be counted as a money maker.

Also, I think Man of Steel will need to make a good bit more than Superman Returns million in its first weekend ($55 million) to be counted as a success by Warner Bros. For comparison, Captain America had a production budget of $140 million and made $65 million in the opening weekend. (A target number I correctly predicted)

Man of Steel has a budget of $200 million, so I would suspect anything less than $80 million would be seen as a opening weekend failure.

With all that said, I think that the movie can make its money back overtime, but will be a opening weekend failure. I predict $75 million for the first weekend.

With all that said, I wouldn't hold my breath for the Justice League movie.


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