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Box Office: Will Captain America: Civil War Pull Off Something Which Has Eluded Marvel Since The Avengers?

It’s a question without an answer: With Captain America: Civil War now on path to gross well beyond $1 billion worldwide, has 2016 already peaked? Of course, I mean that in terms of box office, not necessarily in quality. When the year is done, Civil War probably won’t be viewed as the height of filmmaking in 2016 (that is to say it won’t be winning Best Picture), and it might not even be universally considered the year’s ultimate achievement in comic book storytelling. We still have Apocalypse, Suicide Squad and Doctor Strange on the way, after all.

However, thanks to Hollywood’s new year-round scheduling we’ve already had three summer blockbuster-like hits (Deadpool, Zootopia, The Jungle Book), and Civil War, the first official film of the summer, will probably beat all of them and could very well end up the highest-grossing film of the year. When we look at the rest of 2016, what is there that could challenge the combined might of Iron Man, Captain America and a few of their rowdiest friends?

A_long_time_agoOhhhhhhhhhh, yeah. There’s another Star Wars movie coming out this year, but will an odd prequel like Rogue One: A Star Wars Story really challenge Civil War for box office supremacy?

First, let’s do the numbers:

Captain America: Civil War

  • North American Debut: $179.1m
  • China Debut: $95.8m
  • International Gross After 2 Weeks: $494m
  • Current Worldwide Gross: $673m
  • Selected Records: 5th Biggest Opening Weekend (North America), 2nd Biggest Three-Day Debut in China for a Hollywood Movie (behind Furious 7), Biggest Opening Weekends in Brazil, Mexico and the Philippines, to name a few

Here’s how things worked out for the 10 films with the biggest opening weekends in North American history (Civil War is #5 on that list):


Opening Weekend

Total Domestic Gross

Total Worldwide Gross
Star Wars: The Force Awakens



$2 billion

Jurassic World



$1.67 billion




$1.51 billion

Age of Ultron



$1.40 billion

Civil War




Iron Man 3



$1.21 billion

The Deathly Hallows Part 2



$1.34 billion

Batman v Superman (still in theaters)




The Dark Knight Rises



$1.08 billion

The Dark Knight



$1.00 billion

Barring a BvS-esque freefall, the history suggests Civil War will make it to over a billion worldwide. A huge drop-off seems unlikely, not with Civil War already posting respectable holds (-55% collectively) in the international markets it opened in last weekend.

Did I forget to also mention Civil War is pacing 15% ahead of Age of Ultron in China (where it ultimately grossed $240m)? Or that Civil War’s debut has already surpassed BvS‘ grand total in China, albeit just barely ($95.8m for Civil War compared to $95.7 for BvS)?

CACWI1CACWIVFine. We get it. Civil War is definitely going to join the $1 billion club, and it’s kicking BvS‘ ass. That’s not the point of this article, though. The question, for those given to pondering such things, is whether or not 2016 has any other movie which will challenge Civil War?

Generally, when a Marvel movie opens big like Civil War it ends the year near the top of the charts, but rarely ever at #1. Avengers managed to finish as the #1 film of 2012, domestically and worldwide, but none of the subsequent Marvel movies have repeated that feat:

  • 2013 – Iron Man 3 was passed by Hunger Games: Catching Fire domestically, and Frozen worldwide
  • 2014 – Guardians of the Galaxy finished behind Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part 1 and American Sniper domestically, and The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies and Transformers: Age of Extinction worldwide.
  • 2015 – Age of Ultron trailed well behind Furious 7, Jurassic World and The Force Awakens worldwide

Well, the Hunger Games are over, and Peter Jackson has run out of Tolkien to adapt (unless he’s cruel enough to subject the world to The Silmarillion). Scratch those off the list. However, the other Marvel movies were also bested by a random hit nobody saw coming (American Sniper), a successful re-launch of an old 90s franchise (Jurassic World), an animated juggernaut (Frozen) and the house the Lucas built and handed off (Force Awakens).

I can’t rightly predict the next America Sniper, can I, assuming 2016 even has something which could turn into such a huge, surprise hit. However, 2016 does have another re-launch of an old 90s franchise (Independence Day: Resurgence), and a big animated movie will probably turn into a money-printing machine (Finding Dory). Obviously, there’s also Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Plus, we can’t count out J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter spin-off/prequel Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

rogue-one-mcquarrie-700x300But how the heck do you predict what Rogue One and Fantastic Beast will do? At least with Civil War, you could look at the other Captain America and Avengers movies. Can you fairly compare Rogue One to Force Awakens since it’s a prequel and stars a completely different cast?

Forbes sure thought you could, “That Rogue One is a prequel set during the original trilogy’s days will provide a huge added nostalgic boost for audiences, especially on the heels of The Force Awakens nostalgia-fest left adults everywhere weeping from sheer joy at reliving our childhood all over again […] My guess is that the crown will come down to a fight between Rogue One and Captain America: Civil War.”

Fantastic BeastsAs for Fantastic Beasts, you can point to the Harry Potter movies all you want (a combined $7.7 billion worldwide gross), but those were all based on books. Fantastic Beasts is more or less an original creation J.K. Rowling wrote for the screen, adapting a little-read Harry Potter tie-in textbook she wrote years ago for charity.

Still, as Forbes wrote last year, “The anticipation for a new Harry Potter-related movie, and one written by Rowling herself no less, should help enhance this movie’s buzz immensely. All it has to do is be good. If it can do that, then I think it’s pretty reasonable to expect it to join the $1 billion club, and if it’s great then it could catch fire and be a breakout akin to this year’s Furious 7 or Jurassic World.”

Independence Day: Resurgence isn’t expected to pull a repeat of Jurassic World, though it is still expected to hit big. Suicide Squad, Alice Through the Looking Glass, Doctor Strange, Pete’s Dragon, X-Men: Apocalypse and The BFG are all in the mix as well, though more for a mere place in the year-end top 10 as opposed to coming in at the top of the list. At their current rates, The Jungle Book and Zootopia will definitely have a higher spot on that list than some of the summer’s upcoming films.

Finding-Nemo-2-Albert-BrooksWhat about Finding Dory? We easily forget this, but back in 2003 Finding Nemo made $864m without the benefit of 3D. When it was re-released in 3D, it added $72m bringing its worldwide up to $936m, which inflation-adjusts to $1.2 billion. If Finding Dory rekindles that old magic we could have a monster hit on our hands.

But will it be big enough to duke it out with Civil War, Rogue One and Fantastic Beasts? And are those really the main contenders for highest-grossing film of the year? Or am I underestimating something? Disney sure hopes not because, as is, three of the four films in the running for biggest of the year are all from the Mouse House – Rogue One, Civil War and Finding Dory. Even if Finding Dory disappoints, they already have Zootopia nearing $1 billion worldwide.

Heck, screw this question of whether or not Civil War will pull off something no Marvel movie has since 2012. The bigger question is how many movies Disney will have in the year-end top 10. My guess is 7. The non-Disney movies will be Fantastic Beasts, Independence Day and … oh, I don’t know, let’s say X-Men: Apocalypse … no, Suicide Squad.…wait, no, how about Ice Age: Collision Course?…wait, are we just totally forgetting about Jason Bourne and Star Trek Beyond?

How do you see everything playing out?

Source: Forbes, Deadline


  1. I think there is a massive problem for X Men : Apocalypse here. Some of the reviews so far have been less than stellar. Its apparently too long winded, too.. meandering. I think Financially it coming out effectively so close after Civil War isnt a good time. Civil War is still getting a LOT of press and I think that same press at a different time could be used to push Apocalypse but currently is not.

    I think Apocalpyse will still make money, but Civil War will put a big dent in that.

    1. Days of Future Past set franchises highs internationally and worldwide, and finished less than $1m behind The Last Stand domestically (unless you adjust for inflation, in which case DoFP trailed the first three X-Men movies). However, Apocalypse certainly seems like it’s going to take a step down, financially. There’s just no real buzz, and hasn’t been for a while now. The early reviews haven’t been kind, and while the film’s storyline might have seemed like a good idea two years ago it now feels a bit rote after Deadpool and Civil War with Suicide Squad and Doctor Strange on the way. So, I could easily see a situation where Apocalypse does not crack the year-end top 10.

  2. 7? Mmmm….Zootopia, Jungle Book, Civil War, Finding Dory, Doctor Strange, Rogue one and Moana? I don’t think that Alice through the looking glass will really make the big numbers, considering how mixed the feelings towards the first one were, the BFG doesn’t get enough buzz and Pete’s Dragon gets more negative buzz than anything else, since Disney apparently didn’t understood that those who loved the original movie are VERY attached to the original design of Eliot.

    1. To be honest, I just picked the number 7 out of the air, and then figured those 7 would probably be Zootopia, Jungle Book, Civil War, Finding Dory, Rogue One, Alice… and Moana. However, glancing at the current box office totals for 2016 movies I’m reminded that, at least domestically, Deadpool ($362m) and BvS ($328m) are still going to be near the top of the list by the end of the year. That means if I’m right about Disney landing 7 movies in the year end top 10 between Fantastic Beasts, Independence Day, X-Men: Apocalypse, Suicide Squad, Ice Age: Collision Course, Jason Bourne and Star Trek Beyond only one will hit big enough to break through. I’m thinking at least two of them will do that, though, and my picks would be Fantastic Beasts and Suicide Squad.

      So, I’m now expecting Disney to score 6 top 10 movies this year, not 7. Zootopia, Jungle Book, Civil War, Finding Dory and Rogue One are the obvious picks. The last will be filled by either Doctor Strange, Alice, Moana, BFG or Pete’s Dragon, and Doctor Strange and Moana do seem the more likely candidates than Alice, BFG of Peter’s Dragon.

      It’s probably more likely that Disney ends up with 7 moves in the year end top 10 if we’re talking about worldwide gross instead of domestic.

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