Exploring Marvel’s $10 billion cinematic universe

It wasn’t long after the release of Captain America: Civil War that Marvel Studios achieved a phenomenal box-office figure. That of $10 billion! That’s the figure that the Marvel cinematic universe has crossed ever since the beginning of it all in 2008 with a lesser known superhero called Iron Man and an actor trying to make a triumphant return, Robert Downey Jr. Nine years of hard-work, perseverance, and a belief in what it is creating has helped Marvel in amassing mammoth theatrical revenues. The cumulative worldwide box-office collections stands close to $10.2 billion now over thirteen movies, which is equivalent to a phenomenal figure of $784 million average collection per movie. And it isn’t that a few movies are responsible for such massive collections. In fact, 6 of the 13 movies have global collections above $700 million. Let’s start to dig deeper.

The $10.2 billion collection is well-distributed between North America and the rest of the world. About 40% collection has come from the domestic market and the rest from overseas.

Chart: Domestic v/s overseas collection mix

Marvel cinematic universe_Domestic vs Overseas collections

With time, Marvel’s movies have become a global phenomenon. When the series began in 2008 with Iron Man, only 46% of its theatrical revenues came from overseas market. Move to 2016 and Captain America: Civil War, the overseas earnings have contributed to 67% of the total earnings. In fact, post 2012’s The Avengers, each movie from the Marvel world, barring Guardians of the Galaxy, has relied heavily on foreign earnings that have been responsible for 64%-68% of the total earnings.

Joss Whedon’s The Avengers was of course the brightest spark in the series and its worldwide collections of $1,520 million remains untouched. Both the Avengers movies put together itself contribute to close to 30% of the collections of the Marvel cinematic universe. This pie chart will give a better idea about the contribution from each superhero.

Chart: Contribution of each mini-franchise in the Marvel universe

Marvel cinematic universe_Superhero breakup

The Marvel world is quite diversified, and even though one superhero pops up nowadays in the story of another, the central hero does not take a backseat. With more newer heroes to be unveiled, the challenge  for Marvel and Disney would be to keep such high collections continuing even without the likes of say, Iron Man in the picture.

As told earlier, most of the movies in this series have been a resounding success. The box-office earnings of the movies have been categorized into four sections and shown below.

Chart: Categorizing global box-office collections

Marvel cinematic universe_Categorisation by collections

Each of the three movies which earned less than $500 million worldwide were in the pre-Avengers days, namely, The Incredible Hulk, Thor and Captain America: First Avenger. So 10 of the 13 movies have grossed more than $500 million, of which 4 have grossed more than a billion dollars, namely, both the Avengers flicks, Iron Man 3 and Captain America: Civil War. What is also interesting is the pace at which the cumulative collections have increased.

Chart: Ramp-up of collections

Marvel cinematic universe_Revenue rampup

The above chart gives a good idea on how things shot up once Joss Whedon’s The Avengers justified every dollar that Marvel had invested in building their foundation for this cinematic universe. Prior to The Avengers in 2012, Marvel had released five movies to introduce the first batch of superheroes who would later form the Avengers. These movies grossed an average of $458 million per movie worldwide. Then The Avengers earned $1,520 million! That provided the big kick needed for Phase II in the Marvel universe. So while the first six movies in Phase I made about $3.8 billion, the next five movies in Phase II made almost $4.8 billion! Two movies have released in Phase III so far which have contributed to another $1.6 billion.

The upcoming Doctor Strange would be another litmus test for Marvel, but they have proven their mettle while introducing Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man. Marvel would also face a challenge from the perception of a saturating superhero market. With Warner Bros. and DC lining up their own cinematic universe with some heavyweight actors, and Fox seriously pumping up the profile of the X-Men universe, Marvel’s world is no longer the solitary place where one goes to see men flying around and handing out justice. Nonetheless, Marvel has been triumphant on the back of its amazing plots and fantastic people in the director’s chair who have always raised the bar and brought about interesting challenges for their superheroes to keep us engrossed. As long as Marvel does not compromise on those parameters, it should continue to stand head and shoulders above others! Another $10 billion soon on its way…


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