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So just how well is the DC Cinematic Universe doing anyway?

By Alex Wiggan

As of late, there’s been a lot of talk about the state of the DC Cinematic Universe (DCCU) and whether it is as successful as Marvel’s Cinematic Universe (MCU). When it comes to critical opinions it would appear that Marvel has the edge over DC, as the reviews for DC’s first crop of movies have been less than stellar, but is all as it appears to be?

When it comes to the movie biz, money talks and if a film series isn’t bringing home the bacon then it gets canned pretty quickly. However, if a movie series is turning over a healthy profit, despite scathing reviews, then surely it can be considered just as much of a success, right?

Today, we’re taking a look at what is really going on with the DCCU.

Instead of talking about the critical response to the movies, we’re crunching some numbers to see how well the films are doing financially. We’re comparing the box office results of the first three films in each series to see which studio is performing better.


Iron Man

According to Box Office Mojo, these are the worldwide box office grosses for the first three films in the MCU:

Iron Man (2008) worldwide gross = $585,174,222

The Incredible Hulk (2008) worldwide gross = $263,427,551

Iron Man 2 (2010) worldwide gross = $623,933,331


Total worldwide gross for the first three MCU films = $1,472,535,104


Man of Steel

Now let’s compare that with the first three films in the DC Universe:

Man of Steel (2013) worldwide gross = $668,045,518

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) worldwide gross = $872,662,631

Suicide Squad (2016) worldwide gross (at time of writing) = $577,563,751


Total worldwide gross for the first three DCCU films = $2,118,271,900


Now we must note that Suicide Squad is still in cinemas, so the film’s worldwide box office will change by the end of 2016. That said, based on the worldwide grosses in each respective universe, it would appear that when comparing grosses for the first three films, the DC Cinematic Universe is financially more successful than the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Of course, we can’t just compare box office grosses, we must also take into account the production budgets of each movie. So now let’s weigh up the production budgets of each film, according to Box Office Mojo.

The Incredible Hulk

The MCU’s production budgets are as follows:

Iron Man (2008) production budget = $140 million

The Incredible Hulk (2008) production budget = $150 million

Iron Man 2 (2010) production budget = $200 million


Total production budget for all three films = $490 million


Suicide Squad

The DCCU’s production budgets paint a slightly different picture:

Man of Steel (2013) production budget = $225 million

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) production budget = $250 million

Suicide Squad (2016) production budget = $175 million


Total production budget for all three films = $650 million


As you can see, the first three DCCU films may have grossed more money, but they also cost more money to make. However, when we deduct the total production costs from the total box office grosses, we are left with the following results.

Total three-film gross for the MCU = $982,535104

Total three-film gross for the DCCU = $1,468,271,900

Once again, the DCCU is more financially successful than the MCU, despite higher production costs.

Now of course there are other factors to consider. Firstly, when Marvel Studios created the MCU, shared movie universes were not common, so there really wasn’t the market for these types of films as there is today. There’s also the fact that Marvel’s first movie was Iron Man, who at the time of release was a lesser known Marvel character, so the film was never going to be as successful as Man of Steel.

Then we must consider the success of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, which featured DC’s big three: Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. These characters are a huge box office draw whatever way you cut it, so the movie was always destined to bring in more money than The Incredible Hulk – in fact it should have been much more successful. However, the results do speak for themselves.

What the box office figures show, is that the DCCU isn’t doing as badly as some news reports might have you believe. Sure, DC’s film series needs some work, because story wise the films aren’t ticking all the right boxes, but from a financial point of view they’re not doing too badly at all, especially when you consider the fact that licensing deals and home video income will be making this film series even more profitable than the above results show.

So there you go, the DCCU is doing very well. The real test now will be how well it continues to perform as the series develops and expands.



About the author: Alex Wiggan has written blog posts for Honcho-SFX blog since October 2014. He likes writing, eating pizza and watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Sometimes in that order.


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