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Why Is The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Considered a Failure, But X-Men: Days of Future Past Is Not?

Posted on the 21 March 2015 by Weminoredinfilm.com @WeMinoredInFilm

A little over 6 months before X-Men: Days of Future Past came out we heard that it had become the second most expensive film in the nearly 80 year history of 20th Century Fox, trailing only Avatar, which officially cost nearly $240 million to make although insiders have long since claimed the real cost was closer to $310 million. That was a little concerning for multiple reasons. Had Bryan Singer let the budget get out of control just like he did on Superman Returns and Jack the Giant Slayer? Why was Fox investing so much in this thing in light of the way the X-Men films had been on a box office decline since X-Men: The Last Stand? Were they pushing the profitability bar too high? Then, just a couple of weeks later Bryan Singer took to Twitter to announce “ #Xmen #Apocalypse 2016!” which was quickly followed up by Fox clarifying that a Days of Future Past sequel had indeed been greenlit for a 2016 release. Whoa, that was a lot of confidence in what was clearly a risky bet, a film using time travel to do The Avengers for the X-Men universe. What the heck do we really care how much money they spend, but at a certain point we’d kind of like to see a sequel and huge budgets don’t really help with that, not when most major film markets outside of Asia are either flat right now or on the decline.

I was one such person who was worried. I even made a chart and everything! However, it’s funny how a pretty good movie can make you forget all of that. Days of Future Past arrived, scored a franchise high for worldwide gross, and doggone it people liked it, even if it maybe created more plot holes than it solved and erased not just the films we didn’t like (goodbye X-Men: The Last Stand) but also the ones we kind of did (Yukio and Wolverine’s adventure in Japan is gone now!). Bryan Singer, Simon Kinberg and company are now busy preparing X-Men: Apocalypse, and all financial concerns are largely forgotten and we can get back to just talking about the movies again.

But are you at all curious to see how much Days of Future Past actually cost to make? Don’t you kind of want to know why it is considered such a success even though its worldwide gross was just around $40 million higher than The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which is the film that completely killed its franchise?

Wait, you don’t care? Really? But, come on, I want to show you math. Let’s look at some percentages, dangit. What’s sexier than Hollywood accounting?

Anyway, Deadline put together its best estimates for how much 2014’s biggest films actually cost to make, market and release in theaters and on home video, and how much they made from all potential revenue streams and how much of that they had to share with the talent on back-end deals. I previously wrote about that in my list of the 12 most profitable blockbusters of 2014. The year’s biggest comic book movies, Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy, made the cut while Days of Future Past and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 did not. Since I have already written so much about the business behind both Days of Future Past and ASM2 I thought I would follow-up and briefly cover their profit breakdown as reported by Deadline based on “trusted experts and seasoned veterans”, remembering that studios only take roughly 50% of domestic ticket sales, 40% of international, and 25% from China:

X-Men: Days of Future Past


  • Total Revenue: $653m
    • Domestic Box Office: $119m
    • Foreign Box Office: $155m
    • China Box Office: $29m
    • Global Home Video: $192m
    • Global TV: $153m
    • Merchandise: $5m
  • Total Costs: $576m
    • Production Budget: $220m
    • Global Advertising & Prints: $130m
    • Global Home Video: $62m
    • Interest/Overhead: $31m
    • Talent/Residuals: $129m
  • Net Profit: $77m
  • Return on Investment: 13%

It cost $350m to make, market and release Days of Future Past worldwide, but Fox only took $303m from worldwide ticket sales after dividing the $748m worldwide gross with theaters. What really screwed them was the $100 million they had to pay out on talent participation deals to the likes of Bryan Singer and Hugh Jackman and various other cast members, and what saved them was home video. However, that’s apparently the real cost of trying to do an all-star comic book movie with actors and other talent who won’t come as cheaply as those in the Marvel Studios films.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2


  • Total Revenue: $640m
    • Domestic Box Office: $103m
    • Foreign Box Office: $161m
    • China Box Office: $23m
    • Global Home Video: $185m
    • Global TV: $143m
    • Merchandise: $25m*
  • Total Costs: $570m
    • Production Budget: $255m
    • Global Advertising & Prints: $175m
    • Global Home Video: $62m
    • Interest/Overhead: $38m
    • Talent/Residuals: $40m
  • Net Profit: $70m
  • Return on Investment: 12%

Sony spent an insane-sounding $430m to make, market and release The Amazing Spider-Man 2, a film which ultimately gave them just $287m from their share of worldwide ticket sales. That’s a level of spending which just would not seem to make much sense considering that the first Amazing Spider-Man had set franchise lows in pretty much all significant box office categories. Perhaps not coincidentally, that $255 production budget is pretty much identical to Spider-Man 3’s, the reviled emo-Spider-Man story which threw too much together for one movie to handle. There, a significant source of the cost was their claim that they had to create an entire new technology to achieve the CGI effects for Thomas Haden Church’s Sandman villain. Here, I am not sure why ASM2 cost that much to make, especially considering that the most likely candidate, the special effects, was often a target of criticism, fantastically eye-popping in some scenes, surprisingly ho-hum video game-y in others. However, Sony probably figured you have to spend more money to make money, and that strategy worked out beautifully for Warner Bros. and The Dark Knight after Batman Begins had been a mediocre theatrical hit with insanely euphoric word-of-mouth after the fact.  Yet despite all of that Sony made nearly as much from ASM2 as Fox did from Days of Future Past.

It’s all about track record, though. The last Sam Raimi Spider-Man movie grossed $890m worldwide, and then ASM 1 did $757m and ASM 2 did $709m (before those grosses were divided up between the studio and theaters). That’s obviously heading in the wrong direction, and Sony’s efforts to throw enough money at it didn’t solve anything. Days of Future Past, on the other hand, easily set a franchise high in worldwide gross, with $748m compared to The Last Stand’s $459m in 2006 (not adjusted for inflation). Plus, just as importantly, people seemed to really like Days of Future Past, not so much for Amazing Spider-Man 2 (I know, I’m generalizing here). That’s why even though the two films returned nearly identical profits Days of Future Past is getting a sequel (Apocalypse) and spin-offs (Deadpool, Gambit) while Amazing Spider-Man 2 resulted in Sony scrapping everything and partnering with Marvel.

And now I can stop writing about the math behind Days of Future Past and Amazing Spider-Man 2.

*I have no idea why merchandise is listed as profit for ASM2 since THR previously indicated Sony does not make anything off of Spider-Man merchandise sales as those all go back to Disney. Maybe Sony makes money off of Amazing Spider-Man-specific sales, like the video games or officially branded shirts, but anything Spider-Man that’s not explicitly connected to their films falls under Disney/Marvel’s purview.

Source: Deadline (X-Men), Deadline (Spider-Man)

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