Articles, Box Office Analysis

Superhero Box Office Showdown

In honor of this year’s superhero team-ups and showdowns, I have been challenged to a competition of my own with one Mr. Phillip Pap. Once a frequent contributing editor here at Frame of Motion, Phil has since established his own film website entitled Film Dunce Files. Now known among film critic circles as arch-adversaries, Phil and I are facing off in a challenge to see which one of us can predict the domestic box office results of this year’s superhero films. The person with the most accurate predictions will be dubbed winner and will be able to continue living their life in bliss, knowing they were once able to predict the box office revenue of superhero films in 2016; truly a story that will be passed down from generation to generation. The loser, however, will be forced to setup their profile picture as themselves wearing a sports jersey belonging to a team from the winner’s state. In other words, either I will have to wear a Vikings jersey or Phil will have to wear a Packers jersey. Let the games begin!

For Phil’s part of the challenge, visit his post over at Film Dunce Files by clicking here.

1. Captain America: Civil War – $460 million

I think it’s pretty much a given that Captain America: Civil War will be the highest grossing superhero film of 2016. Box office-wise, this film should be regarded as an Avengers film even if everyone involved with it is constantly iterating that it’s very much a Captain America movie. The fact of the matter is that it is being marketed as an Avengers-sized movie event and I think that will boost its domestic earnings to somewhere near $460 million, which is pretty close to where Avengers: Age of Ultron ended up. While the previous solo Captain America movie earned just under $260 million at the domestic box office, the sheer inclusion of Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark/Iron Man character is likely to boost the earnings of Civil War.

Overall, this film is easily expected to succeed. With no other giant blockbusters being released within a three-week radius from Civil War, Marvel is likely to have a mammoth hit on their hands.

Release date: May 6, 2016

2. Deadpool – $370 million

I feel weird about predicting this movie’s box office outing since it has pretty much run its course at the time of writing this article (I’ll just add another $15 million to its current earnings, because why not?). Having been in theatres for just over seven weeks, Deadpool was an instant success and had the legs to conquer what is usually known as the slow/dumping ground part of the year. With Batman v Superman continually taking a dip in its numbers, I expect Deadpool to end up as the second highest-grossing superhero film of 2016. If you would have asked me to write this article six months ago, I would have said otherwise but luckily Phil had not come up with this competition until after the Merc with a Mouth surprised the film industry.

Release date: February 12, 2016

3. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – $335 million

A great deal of anticipation was built up for Batman v Superman for many different reasons. The title alone should be suffice enough to excite anyone interested in comic book characters, but the film was ultimately hit by overly harsh criticism that put the film’s box office trajectory on a downward slope. Thus, a film that easily could have gone over the $400 million mark will now probably end its course closer to $330 million. Just think if this movie had been critically successful, it would have had a lot of easy weekends to conquer the box office and make it to about $410 million. Then, Warner Bros. could have re-released the R-rated “director’s cut” in late July to lead into the release of Suicide Squad and earn an additional $10-15 million. Poor Batman. First his parents get killed and now this!

Release date: March 25, 2016

4. Suicide Squad – $270 million

I’m glad we take a break from superhero films during the month of July and I’m sure the people over at Warner Bros. are happy about this as well. When Suicide Squad hits theatres at the start of August, we can expect a pretty strong debut. People are interested in Jared Leto’s performance as the Joker and I think sheer curiosity will drive people to the theatre for this strange and grungy looking film. With so many prolific cast members and what will probably be a plethora of DC Comics Easter eggs, Suicide Squad will undoubtedly be the Guardians of the Galaxy of 2016. Also released in the month of August, GOTG went on to earn $333 million at the domestic box office. I don’t think Suicide Squad will be that successful but it still has a chance to end up in the range of $230 million to $290 million.

Release date: August 5, 2016

5. Doctor Strange – $270 million

With nothing more than production stills released at this time, it’s difficult to see how people are going to react to Doctor Strange. While it’s November release date suggests that Marvel has some confidence in this otherworldly property, it also means that the film will only get two solid weekends to perform before Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is released. This is where critical reviews and word of mouth can either help Doctor Strange levitate to success or let it be stupefied by J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter spin-off.

At this point, a $250 million domestic gross is very generous but I need to take a risk with this list and I’m personally hoping this film will be amazing. As a non-sequel Marvel movie based on a character not as familiar to audiences as the primary characters in 2012’s The AvengersDoctor Strange is going to have to rely heavily on its marketing to achieve a successful opening weekend and overall box office run. In reality, the film could be more compared to Thor: The Dark World’s release in November 2013 that ended with a $206 million gross but I’ll take the middle ground between that and Guardians of the Galaxy’s $333 million.

Release date: November 4, 2016

6. X-Men: Apocalypse – $220 million

Despite the positive critical response to X-Men: Days of Future Past and the financial triumph of Deadpool, I have a feeling that X-Men: Apocalypse will not match the success of either of those films. Like Deadpool himself, I think audiences are just a little too tired of the X-Men. Not including Deadpool or the two solo Wolverine movies, Apocalypse is the sixth X-Men film. Perhaps it’s time to slow down a bit and give this series some breathing room. Therefore, expect Apocalypse to end up in the lower $200 million range.

Release date: May 27, 2016

7. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows – $190 million

Like the Transformer films, I’m not sure if 2014’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is meant for kids or adults. With the upcoming sequel looking tonally identical, I can only assume that it will make a little less money than its predecessor. Because the Ninja Turtles have never been critically successful on the big screen, I don’t think reviews will have much of an impact on the film’s box office ranking. However, I do think that it is sandwiched between too many franchise movies that could ultimately drown out any potential the Ninja Turtles have this time around.

Release date: June 3, 2016


Overall, it’s going to be an interesting year for superhero films. With so many more already in production, 2016 most likely won’t be the year that leads to the death of the genre. In fact, it would almost be a safe bet to say that every film on this list will receive a sequel of its own. But then again, what do I know? Maybe the world freezes over before 2016 can run its course. If that’s the case, hopefully it happens after November 4.