In case you were wondering, this summer’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a very, very, VERY expensive movie. Sony Pictures has reportedly invested over $400 million into the production, including the marketing costs, which means that they need to make a hell of a lot of money to not only recoup that investment but also make up for the disappointing box office grosses of their recent disappointments RoboCop and The Monuments Men. There’s a lot riding on every blockbuster’s shoulders – they call them “tentpoles” for a reason, since they prop up a studio’s grosses and make up for losses from riskier ventures – but can The Amazing Spider-Man 2 really make over $1 billion?
According to a recent report in Variety, that’s the number Sony has to hit to make the costly blockbuster worthwhile. It would be no small feat. Only 18 movies in history have ever broken into the $1 Billion Club, and none of them have been Spider-Man movies. The one that got closest is Spider-Man 3, with a worldwide gross of just over $890 million. That may seem like a lot, but Spider-Man 3 was such a costly venture that even just shy of $1 billion left the studio disappointed, inspiring them to green light this new, rebooted franchise. And the first film in that franchise had the lowest gross of any Spider-Man movie to date: “just” $752 million. If The Amazing Spider-Man 2 doesn’t do better than that, Sony – and Spider-Man fans – may have a huge problem.
How does this affect you, the viewer? Well, in many respects it doesn’t yet, although it may make you a little more forgiving about the constant deluge of publicity for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 that we’ve been experiencing for the past few months. Sony has a lot riding on this movie being not just a success, but one of the biggest successes of all time. If it doesn’t hit that goal, it may have a negative impact on all the sequels and spin-offs that Sony already has planned for the franchise. The nuclear option would be to scuttle the whole franchise again, but they have a lot riding on keeping this series afloat. The worst case scenario is probably lower budgets for the sequels and spin-offs, or maybe making a few less of them than they originally planned.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 opens internationally this weekend, giving it the head start on the summer season that it desperately needs. It probably won’t face too much direct competition from the comedy Neighbors, which opens the week after Amazing Spider-Man 2 in America, but after that it’ll be sharing theaters with potential blockbusters Godzilla and X-Men: Days of Future Past. Then by the end of May, it will probably be a distant memory for most audiences. That’s not much time to break box office records, and not an open field in which to reach that goal.