The summer season is one of the peak times for the movie business. This summer, many of the big films are those that are part of a franchise, such as Star Trek and X-Men. It made me wonder – which of the franchises on show this summer have historically been the most successful, and which could be classified the ‘best’?
The film franchises we are looking at are those with films released this summer - Star Trek, X-Men, Jason Bourne, The Avengers and Batman.
Box office takings vs. film quality
The usual measure of success of a film is its box office takings, ideally global. This doesn’t take into account the actual received quality of the film. We can measure the film quality by using online review aggregators, in this case the Rotten Tomatoes rating for each film.
So is there a correlation between box office success and critical success for franchises? With the exception of Star Trek, the films have only been released within last decade, so inflation won’t have a significant effect.
Box office figures from The-Numbers.com and the Rotten Tomatoes scores for each film in our franchises are shown in graph below.
At face value, it would seem that the most successful films in monetary terms are also those that were well received by the critics. However, at the lower end of box office success, this is less clear with, for example, films around $400-500m takings having Rotten Tomatoes scores between 38% and 95%. This may well be because franchises in general have loyal fans who will see the films irrespective of independent critical acclaim, and the real trick for success is reaching outside of the core fan base.
The worst performing films by this measure are the infamous Batman and Robin with a score of 11%, and Star Trek V: the Final Frontier with a score of 21%. At the top end The Avengers movie from 2012 with $1.5bn revenue and score of 92%, and the Dark Knight with $1bn revenue and 94% score.
Are franchises becoming more popular?
If we consider franchises over time, the increase in revenue over time becomes clearer.
There are 2 franchises that have broken the $1bn barrier – the Avengers and Batman.
Which franchise comes out on top?
So prior to this year’s films, what is the most successful franchise releasing in 2016 in terms of average revenue and review score across the franchise?
The Avengers comes top with not only the highest average revenue, but also the highest review score. It also has the most financial successful film across the franchises considered (Marvel's The Avengers film from 2012, closely followed by Avengers: Age of Ultron in 2015).
So will this summer prove successful for any of these franchises? The omens are looking good for our top 2 with Captain America: Civil War and Batman vs Superman both performing strongly.
So if you are into science fiction films, then if you haven’t seen them already, there’s plenty of successful options out there. If not, there’s always Finding Dory.