These days, you can't go to a movie theater without seeing a preview or a poster for a new superhero movie. The reason for this has something to do with the amazing content, wonderful sets, the interesting characters and the stories, but the real reason these movies are dominating the cultural landscape has to do with money. Movies only get made when the prospect of earning more than they cost leads producers to gamble their cash on a project and since 2008's Iron Man, those projects have mostly been based off comic books and superheroes. In most cases, especially for the MCU, these movies rake in hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars.
Not only do these movies make a ton of money domestically, they have been dominating the global markets as well. In some cases, movies released outside the United States, where they are usually made, make more money in Europe and countries like China, which seems to love the big-budget special effects more than anything else... how else do you think Michael Bay keeps making those Transformers movies? Many of these films do well while some aren't able to appeal to a foreign market—even if they do well in the States. Sometimes, a $100+ million dollar movie ends up making a little bit of cash, but ultimately bombs at the box office in one market or another. When this happens, it's highly unlikely a sequel will be made. We took a look at the numbers and found 10 movies that absolutely nailed it overseas, and ten that completely failed to make a mark.
20 AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR (2018)
It shouldn't come as much of a surprise to learn Avengers: Infinity War $321.2 million did rather well at the box office. It's probably the biggest superhero movie ever made and it certainly made an impact on viewers who flooded the Internet with meme after meme of people blowing away into dust. The movie reportedly cost to make, but that number pales in comparison to how much is pulled in at the box office.
For the united states domestic box office, the movie made more than twice its production cost with $678.8 million, but at the foreign/international box office, it pulled in a whopping $1.370 billion making it the most financially successful superhero movie ever made with a worldwide total take of $2.049 billion dollars; a number Avengers: Endgame is likely to break.
19 BOMB: COWBOYS & ALIENS (2011)
The movie Cowboys & Aliens was based on the graphic novel of the same name and directed by John Favreau so it had the right elements to make for a great movie, but it never seemed to make much of a mark. In the United States, the film managed to pull in a little over $100 million dollars, but seeing as it cost $163 million to make, that's nowhere near what the studio needed to make a profit.
Over in the foreign box office, the film did even worst, only pulling in a "paltry" $74.58 million. Added together and you have $174.8 million, which exceeds production costs, but seeing as marketing costs were likely around $100 million added onto the bill, the movie ended up losing a great deal of cash for DreamWorks Pictures.
18 THE AVENGERS (2012)
The first major outing for the Marvel Cinematic Universe to star the heaviest hitters in Marvel's lineup did remarkably well at the box office. That shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who saw this movie, which was one of the most highly anticipated films of the decade. When it hit theaters in the United States, it managed to pull in a respectable $623.2 million, but overseas, it did far better.
Americans aren't the only people on the planet who like to see superheroes beat up aliens and save the day. The Avengers dominated the foreign market earning a $894.6 million when it was released. That puts the total take for the film at just over $1.5 billion dollars, which may be the reason it spawned three sequels and counting.
17 BOMB: R.I.P.D. (2013)
What do you get when you take veteran actor Jeff Bridges, a pre-Deadpool Ryan Reynolds, and a script based on the comic book Rest in Peace Department and put it into a movie? Sadly, a massive critical and commercial failure. This afterlife/buddy cop flick ended up costing more than $130 million of Universal Studios' money to make, but only managed to rake in a measly $33.6 million at the U.S. box office.
Overseas, it did slightly better with a take of $44.7 million, but that hardly amounts to enough cash to make up for the incredible loss this movie caused. All told, it only took in $78.3 million dollars, which is just over half what it cost to make. The film spawned a video game, which also cost (and lost) millions more.
16 AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015)
Avengers: Age of Ultron was a guaranteed success long before it hit theaters and there wasn't much the studio could have done to ruin its potential. Fortunately, it was as good as advertised and helped to continue the Avengers franchise (as well as the MCU) into Marvel Studios' Phase Four plans. The film cost an estimated $365 million to make, but it earned $459 million at the domestic box office.
As you might have guessed, the film managed to do remarkably well at the foreign box office. When it was all said and done in foreign theaters, the movie managed to pull in $944 million putting the overall total at just over $1.4 billion dollars.
15 BOMB: CATWOMAN (2004)
There weren't a lot of people who had high hopes for Halle Berry's Catwoman (to include the actress who accepted a Golden Raspberry for her performance in person). The movie had little to nothing to do with the comic book character it was based on and cost $100 million for Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow Pictures to make. Unfortunately, all it could manage at the domestic box office was $40.2 million.
The film didn't do much better overseas. While Berry certainly had the star power to carry a superhero movie, this one suffered from bad writing and terrible direction. It only did slightly better than the States with a total foreign box office take of $41.9 million putting the grand total at just over $82 million dollars.
14 BLACK PANTHER (2018)
Black Panther was one of the most successful films to come out of the House of Ideas in 2018 and a lot of the film's success had to do with the amazing cast and story. There wasn't a character on screen the fans didn't come to love (or hate) in one way or another and that was obvious once the film left theaters and the receipts were counted. Domestically, the movie raked in $700 million bucks.
Overseas, it did almost as well earning $647 million in the combined foreign box office. combined, that's a total of $1.37 billion dollars, which is the most movie a solo superhero film has made. Seeing as the film cost $200 million to film, there was no doubt a Black Panther sequel would eventually follow.
13 BOMB: ELEKTRA (2005)
Fans were incredibly excited when Hollywood finally set out to make a Daredevil movie... sadly, it wasn't very good and while the movie managed to pull in close to $180 million, all that managed to do was greenlight the spinoff film Elektra a couple of years later. The film was somewhat true to the comics, but came off as campy and unrealistic with poorly written dialogue and an ill-conceived storyline.
Domestically, the film that cost only $43 million to make managed to take in a whopping $24.4 million. It didn't fare much better in the foreign markets and only managed to make $32.27 million. That combined figure exceeded its budget, but thanks to marketing costs, the studio ended up losing big on Elektra.
12 IRON MAN 3 (2013)
Black Panther may have nailed the box office as the highest-grossing solo superhero flick to date, but it is closely followed by the third Iron Man outing. While the second Iron Man film failed to achieve the same results as the original, the third film came out of the gate swinging with a return to form that fans absolutely loved... especially overseas.
In the States, Iron Man 3 managed to make $408.9 million off a $200 million budget, which is nothing to sneeze at. Overseas, that number was nearly doubled to a whopping $806.4 million bringing Shell-Head's third film's total to an impressive $1.2 billion. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like Marvel will launch another sequel, which may pave the way for an Iron Heart/Riri Williams film in Phase 4...?
11 BOMB: ÆON FLUX (2005)
Though originally an animated series on MTV, Æon Flux was adapted to comic books prior to becoming a film so we are calling it a superhero movie seeing as Charlize Theron was exactly that in this 2005 film. Though it was certainly an auspicious project with a $65 million budget, the film was torn apart by critics and only managed to bring in just under $26 million at the domestic box office.
Overseas, the movie did just a hair better with a box office take of only $26.4 million putting the movie's total earnings at only $52.3 million. This resulted in a complete and total loss for Paramount Pictures. The film did well in rental sales with revenues of approximately $31.8 million and has gone on to achieve cult classic status.
10 CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR (2016)
The third Captain America film may have been criticized a bit by fans for being a mini-Avengers movie, but that doesn't mean it wasn't incredibly popular and a huge financial success. Steve Rogers' third flick about a break in the team that involved everyone including Spider-Man for the first time in and MCU film brought in $408 million at the domestic box office.
Overseas, the movie did remarkably well, as you might expect an MCU film to do. All told, the movie brought in $731.9 million at the foreign box office bringing in a combined total of $1.14 billion off of a $250 million budget. It may have had the whole Avengers cast running about, but this Captain America flick was all about the Soldier standing up for what's right and it made a ton of cash.
9 BOMB: DREDD (2012)
The original Judge Dredd film starring Sylvester Stallone in the titular role managed to anger a lot of fans of the comics. The film wasn't true to the books that inspired it, which is why many were excited to learn of the remake, Dredd, for 2012. The movie was lifted from the pages of the comics, but sadly, it seems there weren't as many fans as the studio hoped because the movie only managed to pull in a measly $13.4 million at the domestic box office.
Plans of a sequel were almost immediately scrapped when the tickets from the foreign box office revealed a total of only $22.2 million. Given the cost of $45 million and the combined take of $35.6 million, even a true-to-comic adaptation of the classic character couldn't make it in Mega-City One.
8 THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (2012)
For the most part, Batman films have always meant big money for Warner Bros. and DC Comics. We won't mention a certain Joel Schumacher outing, but other than that, Batman films have been box office gold. The most successful of them was definitely The Dark Knight Rises, the third in the Christopher Nolan/Christian Bale The Dark Knight Trilogy... at least financially.
The movie cost an estimated $300 million to make and brought in $448.1 million domestically. In the foreign markets, the movie busted records and brought in $636.3 million bringing the film's total take to just over $1 billion. The movie stands as Nolan's highest-grossing film of all time and the second Batman film to earn $1 billion in total sales.
7 BOMB: HOWARD THE DUCK (1986)
For people who aren't familiar with the comics, Howard the Duck is a real comic book character from Marvel that was adapted for the silver screen all the way back in 1986. By all accounts, the movie was an absolute horror, but it should be watched by anyone who asks, "What were the '80s like?" In all seriousness, this wasn't a great movie, but it was campy enough to at least earn a single watch in a lifetime.
The movie cost Lucasfilm Ltd. a whopping $36 million to make, but it only managed to bring in a domestic total of $16.29 million. Anthropomorphic ducks may appeal to the foreign market a little more than the American one because the movie managed to make $21.66 million overseas bringing the total to just shy of $38 million.
6 THE DARK KNIGHT (2008)
Batman is certainly big money, which the world learned thanks, in part, to Heath Ledger's Academy Award winning performance as The Joker in The Dark Knight. That film wasn't just a huge critical success, it was a financial success as well with a massive amount of money coming in from the domestic market. The U.S. box office take for the film was $533.3 million, which far exceeded its $180 million budget.
Overseas, the movie didn't perform quite as well as it did in the States, though it did make a lot of money. The foreign box office managed a total of $468.2 million making for a combined pull of $1 billion making it the first Batman film to make such an achievement.
5 BOMB: THE SPIRIT (2008)
For anyone born relatively recently, The Spirit was originally a newspaper comic strip by Will Eisner from the 1940s. It has been adapted into radio plays and was made into a feature length film in 2008, though few went to see it. The movie was written and directed by writer and artist Frank Miller in the same style as his other works, 300 and Sin City, but failed to achieve the same level of success as those films.
Domestically, the film only managed to rake in $19.8 million on an estimate $60 million budget. Overseas, it did a little worse, but not by much. The foreign box office take for The Spirit was $19.2 million leaving a combined take of under $40 million. The film was a financial flop for Lionsgate and is widely considered to be a terrible movie.
4 SPIDER-MAN 3 (2007)
A lot of people may make fun of Sam Raimi's third Spider-Man film for the excess in villains, the poor portrayal of Venom and the pictured dance scene, but that doesn't mean the movie didn't do well domestically and overseas. The film ended up costing the studio $250 million to make, but brought in $336.5 million at the domestic box office. That's certainly a successful take, but it did far better overseas.
In the foreign box office, the movie managed to make $558.3 million putting its combined total at $894 million. While it did well enough to earn another sequel (two were planned), talks fell through and the Sam Raimi Spider-Man franchise came to a close... and all anyone can remember is Peter Parker dancing in the street.
3 BOMB: PUNISHER: WAR ZONE (2008)
We're really getting into the weeds now when it comes to superhero movies that failed to make a mark overseas. Not only did Punisher: War Zone manage to fail completely at the domestic box office, it was an even bigger failure overseas. Odds are, you probably haven't even seen the movie. It wasn't marketed well and the reason for that may be that the movie is just bad. It's not a great interpretation of the character and it is unlike the other Punisher outings.
Domestically, the movie only managed a sum of $8.05 million. Seeing as the movie cost $35 million to make, it would have to do well overseas to work, but that didn't happen. The foreign box office total for Puinisher: War Zone was only $2.049 million making it a rather big box office bomb, indeed.
2 SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING (2017)
Spider-Man may have made his first appearance in the MCU in Captain America: Civil War, but his first solo flick was Spider-Man: Homecoming. This movie was box office gold and proved to the world that the people who make Spider-Man movies should be the people who write Spider-Man comics: the good folks at Marvel and Marvel Studios. Domestically, Homecoming racked up a total of $334.2 million and it didn't fare too poorly overseas.
The total foreign box office take for the movie came in at $545.8 million for a movie that cost $175 million to make. Combined, that puts Spider-Man's first full MCU outing at a box office take of $880 million. Given the web-head's popularity on-screen, Spider-Man: Far From Home is likely to break $1 billion when it released in 2019.
1 BOMB: JONAH HEX (2010)
The worst film to make a tiny sum of money in the foreign market actually made more than the aforementioned Punisher: War Zone domestically. Jonah Hex isn't a well-known character from the DC Universe, which is probably why this film failed to pull in much of an audience. In the U.S. market, the movie only managed to rake in a small sum of $10.5 million, which is far less than the studio had hoped.
While $10.5 million is almost nothing in box office sales for a big-budget movie (this one cost $47 million to make), it did far worse overseas. All told, the movie only managed to make $350,000 in foreign markets, which earned the movie a combined total of less than $11 million dollars making the worst superhero movie to hit the silver screen overseas.