TOP SEVEN: The Year in Comic Book Movies

by

As 2010 comes to a close, it’s a good time to look back at the comic book movie adaptations that hit theaters and see how they fared.

While 2010 was a great year for movies that struck a chord with the pop culture crowed (A-Team, Predators, The Karate Kid, and others), there were  few movies released that were based on comic books (or strips in the case of Marmaduke).  The list is rather short – seven titles released over the year – which is understandable considering other movies, like The Expendables had a comic book based on the movie, and other popular movies were adaptations of prose books (Harry Potter).

THE CONTENDERS

Here’s a rundown of the films, listed based on their release date.

Kick-Ass (April 16, 2010)

Dave Lizewski is an unnoticed high school student and comic book fan who one day decides to become a super-hero, even though he has no powers, training or meaningful reason to do so.

The Losers (April 23, 2010)

After being betrayed and left for dead, members of a CIA black ops team root out those who targeted them for assassination.

Iron Man 2 (May 7, 2010)

With the world now aware of his dual life as the armored superhero Iron Man, billionaire inventor Tony Stark faces pressure from the government, the press, and the public to share his technology with the military. Unwilling to let go of his invention, Stark, along with Pepper Potts, and James “Rhodey” Rhodes at his side, must forge new alliances – and confront powerful enemies.

Marmaduke (June 4, 2010)

A suburban family moves to a new neighborhood with their large yet lovable Great Dane, who has a tendency to wreak havoc in his own oblivious way.

Jonah Hex (June 18, 2010)

The U.S. military makes a scarred bounty hunter with warrants on his own head an offer he cannot refuse: in exchange for his freedom, he must stop a terrorist who is ready to unleash Hell on Earth.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (August 13, 2010)

Scott Pilgrim must defeat his new girlfriend’s seven evil exes in order to win her heart.

Red (October 15, 2010)

When his idyllic life is threatened by a high-tech assassin, former black-ops agent Frank Moses reassembles his old team in a last ditch effort to survive.

THE RANKING

It should be pointed out that the table above does not take into account the worldwide box office gross.  So while it may look like half the movies on the list totally tanked, when the worldwide grosses are taken into account some did exceptionally well (Marmaduke brought in nearly $50 million overseas), others did indeed stink it up (Jonah Hex made a measly $356,195 worldwide), and some just made the production cost back (The Losers).  Also, this ranking only takes into account theatrical release grosses, and not money made from DVD sales/rentals.  It’s estimated that Kick-Ass brought in an additional $22 million in DVD sales, Scott Pilgrim nearly $11 million, and The Losers just under $9 million.

WINNERS AND LOSERS

There was a lot of talk on the Intardwebz that 2010 marked the beginning of the end for comic book movies.  It does indeed look like a downer year for comic book based movies, with more taking a hit in the United States theaters than bringing in the big bucks.  The biggest loser of the year is Warner Bros. who took a gamble on two properties that had the potential, but simply failed on launch.   This is a big turnaround for the company that still holds the number one spot with The Dark Knight, which brought in $533 million in 2008.   On the plus side, one of the bigger news items this year was the reorganization of Warner Bros. and DC Comics and the time spent in coming up with a plan to market and use the company’s comic book properties going forward.

Are audiences tired of comic book movies?  Based on numbers, signs point to a definite “maybe”.  However, when you dig a little deeper, titles and characters audiences are not familiar with, and stories that were not handled well are the bigger reason viewers shied away from the box office.

One of the other things to make note of is ticket cost. Movie tickets rose an estimated eight-percent in 2010 to $7.95 for traditional movies, with prices for 3-D movies averaging $19.95 per ticket.  With DVD sales and rentals coming in as close or better than opening weekend sales for many of the titles in our ranking, audiences may be sending a signal to theater chains that their tired of overpriced seats, and would rather sit in the comfort of their own home to watch movies, even if it means waiting a couple of months after the initial release.

The big winner for 2010 is Marvel, who raked in the money for Iron Man 2, which ended the year only $6 million shy of the first Iron Man movie.  Marvel is betting audiences aren’t tired of comic book adaptations, as the company has three movies (all Avengers tie-ins) set for 2011.  And as of this posting, the number of comic book adaptations is on par with the number of releases for 2010.

Upcoming Releases for 2011

  • The Green Hornet (January 13, 2011)
  • Thor (May 06, 2011)
  • Priest (May 13, 2011)
  • X-Men: First Class (June 03, 2011)
  • Green Lantern (June 17, 2011)
  • Captain America: The First Avengers (July 22, 2011)
  • Cowboys and Aliens (July 29, 2011)

Looking at the list, there are potentially three movies that might stumble, but considering there are more big name movies on the line up for 2011 than not, the early buzz seems to indicate the 2011 line up will bring in more money than those released in 2010.

Sources: IMDB and Box Office Mojo