Sunday, July 21, 2013

'The Wolverine' Box Office Forecast and Predictions

Comic book movies have become increasingly popular and hitherto propitious.* The number of CB movies released over the years has proliferated, presumably reaching its maximum this year (2013) with a total of 4 superhero films being released. The special four include Iron Man 3, Man of Steel, The Wolverine, and Thor 2. The first two have been very successful with each grossing more than $600 million. The X-men series, however, hasn’t been very lucky. The highest-grossing movie in the franchise is X3: The Last Stand with $460 million worldwide. Subsequent prequels and spin-offs, such as X-Men: First Class and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, never reached the same levels. Although it may seem unfair to compare these movies to a finale (X3) or other comic-book movies, the evidence does suggest that interest in the X-Men series is nowhere close to that of Thor (released in 3D), Iron Man, or Man of Steel (also released in 3D). The bumpy road that the series has been facing is not really related to the material itself but Fox’s attempts at setting a franchise. Both their marketing strategies and management of the franchise are questionable and disorganized.  The absence of a buildup similar to the Avengers series is the main problem. Included in this absence is the illogical release of movies from the franchise. For example, both a prequel and spin-off were released a few years apart with no logical connection. Hopefully, the upcoming film will serve as connector and open new doors to other X-men films.

The Wolverine is another addition to the X-Men series as a sequel to the X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The first Wolverine (2009) spin-off grossed $179.9 million in North America and another $193.2 million in other countries while the prequel, First Class (2011), grossed $146.4 million in North America while making $207.2 million in international markets. It is important to mention that First Class didn’t cast the Wolverine—the most popular character in the X-men series—as a main character but only a cameo.  This might explain the decrease of the North American gross from the 2009 film and the 2011 or it could just be that the series is losing interest.

Another difference in the upcoming Wolverine movie and the previous one is the location which has been changed to Japan. This effort clearly signals an attempt at gaining a larger audience and higher grosses in Japan and Asia. These types of changes help the film’s international performance but often decrease its domestic performance. Therefore, coupled with franchise exhaust and audience fatigue, it is highly possible that The Wolverine will gross less than its predecessor in North America even though it has the extra push from 3D premiums. In non-north American markets, 3D still seems to pack a strong punch so it should give a rise in the film’s international revenue.

The promotion of the film has been modest. The total number of trailer views, 49,938,332, (based on Box Office Magazine data) is nothing exceptional, but is a great deal below recent comic-book movies such as Iron Man 3 and Man of Steel. It is, however, above recent action movie—Pacific Rim—which opened to an ordinary $40 million opening. The caveat worth nothing is that The Wolverine is running off a well-known and existing franchise which includes a large fanbase. So, a higher view count is nothing short of normal. On a qualitative side, the trailers portray a different type of movie and story—possibly one with more depth unlike the previous origin film. Evident in most trailers, the robot samurai fighting scene clearly recalls Thor's heartless warrior machine. The action-sequences are far away from that of the heavily action-driven Man of Steel but more towards those of Thor.

North American Forecast: $157 million
Non-North American Forecast: $270 million**
Worldwide:  $427 million
*save for Green Lantern
**Including a Chinese release.

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