In the era of the $200 million blockbuster, box office numbers are a big deal. If a movie outperforms at the box office, it's almost guaranteed to get a sequel, perhaps a spin-off, and a ton of other stuff like merchandise designed to grow the brand and make sure the next movie is even bigger.
On the other hand, if it doesn't meet the studio's high expectations, not only will the sequel most likely be put on ice (not a Bucky pun), it could also spell disaster for the larger franchise; $10 million spent on a movie that bombs is a bad day at the office, but $200 million (plus marketing) on a catastrophic flop is a nightmare — all of which means the eyes of the world, not just Marvel Studios, are on [Captain America: Civil War](tag:994409) right now.
You may already know that it just passed $1bn at the box office but if, like me, you're majorly into statistics for reasons you probably can't quite explain, there's a good chance you'll enjoy taking a deeper dive into the Captain America: Civil War box office stats. Without further ado, let's do exactly that.
How Much Did Captain America: Civil War Cost To Make?
Finding out exactly how much a movie costs to make is usually pretty difficult. For instance [X-Men: Apocalypse](tag:1194267) — which is off to a pretty fantastic start at the box office — was cited by an Australian newspaper as having cost $234m in US dollars (which would rank it among the most expensive movies ever made), whereas Deadline (who are usually reliable on these matters) have it pegged at a cheaper $178m (which is still not exactly pocket change).
Matters are complicated by the fact that product placement deals agreed with major companies in the auto, tech and fashion industries (among others) often allow the studio to make back a chunk of those production expenses before the movie ever hits theaters. The details of those deals, though, are rarely released.
James Bond movies are notorious for their epic product placement deals, which sometimes service the story well (like when Bond drives a custom-made Aston Martin, built and paid for by the company, who also stump up cash for the free promo), and sometimes don't. An example of the latter would be Heineken, whose beer Bond drinks in Spectre as part of an epic $100m promo campaign from the company. Most of that money is is spent on ads like the one above, but some goes directly to Sony and MGM to cover the costs of making the movie.
In Captain America: Civil War, the German premium car manufacturer Audi paid a significant amount of money to Marvel and Disney to get their vehicles in the movie, and it's not subtle. During the chase scene in the underground parking lot in Berlin, the vehicles driven by Black Panther and literally everybody else are all emblazoned with Audi's iconic four-ring badge, and the camera frequently zooms in on it. Even Tony Stark is later seen driving a bright orange Audi R8. How much did Audi pay for this privilege? We don't know, but certainly enough to take at least some of the burden off Civil War's box office performance.
Concave Brand Tracking actually put together a very interesting video (see above) breaking down all of the product placement in Captain America: Civil War, which is well worth a few minutes of your time. You'll spot brands and products you may not even have noticed in the theater, such as the Harley-Davidson motorbike Bucky rides during the same Berlin chase scene, as well as FedEx, Nike trainers, Vivo cell phones and international TV network MSNBC. You can check out Audi's extremely ridiculous Civil War tie-in ad below.
If we don't consider product placement income at all, the budget for Captain America: Civil War officially stands at an eye-watering $250m, as per Box Office Mojo. The single biggest chunk of this money goes to talent (i.e. actors' salaries), who in a movie like this will probably command somewhere way north of $50m — even closer to $100m — between them in wages.
Most of the major players, like Scarlett Johansson, Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr., will also have clauses in their contracts that allow them a certain percentage of overall box office takings if the movie hits a certain threshold (above $1bn, for instance). That said, Disney and Marvel are notorious for their refusal to bow to actors' demands for enormous salaries.
But Where Does The Rest Of The Money Go?
If you sit around through the closing credits of any Marvel movie waiting for the post-credits scenes, you'll see that the sheer number of artists involved in making the movie — VFX guys, stunt coordinators, composers, producers, etc. — is not in the hundreds but in the thousands. All of these people need to be paid, and although most don't get even 10% as much as the actors themselves (unfairly so, you might say), that still amounts to one enormous wage bill.
On top of that there's the cost of shooting in various foreign countries, using state of the art equipment and booking out editing studios for months on end. Add all of that stuff together and you have yourself a bill for $250m.
So Let's Talk Box Office: Is Civil War Profitable Already?
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a piece previewing Civil War's box office earnings and posing the question of whether or not it could match or beat Age of Ultron.
Let's revisit our friends at Box Office Mojo, whose always reliable box office data currently puts Captain America: Civil War at a total of $1.06bn from all markets.
That breaks down into $350m in the US (of which $75m was made during opening Friday and $179m during the three-day weekend) and $710m overseas. Here's how those figures compare with other recent superhero box office takings (US opening weekend quoted, global total in brackets), including Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Deadpool and [X-Men: Days Of Future Past](tag:203942):
The movie can expect to take another $20m or so during the upcoming four-day weekend in the US, and will probably finish north of $1.2bn — a little shy of the $1.4bn made by [The Avengers: Age Of Ultron](tag:293035) and the $1.5bn taken by The Avengers.
The typical rule is that a film should make between 3–4 times more than its production budget to become profitable during its theatrical run. That's because on top of the $250m spent making the film (in Civil War's case), several tens of millions more are spent marketing it (this figure is almost never revealed).
Forbes previously produced an in-depth financial breakdown of the costs of making Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which you can dive into right here. On average, the major studios keep 52 percent of money taken in US theaters (the rest going to the distributors and theater chains themselves), 42 percent in most foreign territories, and 25 percent in China (surprise, surprise). That weighs out at around 40 percent of total global takings going back to the studio, which means that from $1.2bn made at the box office, Marvel would keep $480m from Captain America: Civil War.
Even accounting for a very large marketing spend that would take the cost of Civil War into the mid-$300m range still makes it a profitable movie prior to the end of its theatrical run. More money will also be made from home entertainment (DVD/Blu-ray) and streaming licensing costs, so in the long run Civil War will prove very profitable indeed for Marvel.
According to the same Forbes study, Age of Ultron made an insane $382m in pure profit for Marvel, while The Winter Soldier also put an extra $166m into the big bank of Disney. Civil War will continue to run in theaters for a couple of months, and though it's unlikely to match Age of Ultron when all is said and done, there really is no denying that Captain America's third outing has outperformed every expectation at the box office.