Some Batman films do well at the box office, while others do even better. Some, not so much. But how much money do the Batman movies make? And what is the highest grossing Batman film?
In this post I am taking a look at the box office returns of the Batman movies, to determine how successful they are. I will be highlighting each film’s production budget, alongside its worldwide gross to see which films were hits and which struggled to recoup their costs.
Which Batman movies were box office hits?
Below is a list of live-action, theatrically released Batman movies. The only live-action movie not included in this list is the Adam West-starring Batman: The Movie (1966), as there are no records of exactly how much money the movie made.
For each film listed below I have included information about the production budget, as well as the box office gross. These figures do not include the marketing costs, as those figures have not been made public.
Tim Burton’s Batman had a production budget of $35 million and it went on to make $411,508,343 at the worldwide box office. Additional marketing costs aside, the film was a huge hit for Warner Bros. Pictures and is the reason the studio pushed forward with sequels.
Batman Returns (1992)
Batman Returns’ production budget was $80 million and the film took $266,892,996 at the worldwide box office. Batman Returns was a hit, but it cost more to make than Batman and it didn’t make anywhere near as much back, so it wasn’t the hit the studio would have liked.
Batman Forever (1995)
Batman Forever was given a production budget of $100 million (you’ll note the production costs increase with each film). The movie made $336,567,158 worldwide, making it another hit for the studio and a more profitable step forward.
Batman & Robin (1997)
Batman & Robin’s budget was $125 million. The film made $238,235,719. So, Batman & Robin made money, but it was nowhere near what Warner Bros. Pictures would have liked – certainly not from a $125 million budget.
Catwoman was budgeted at $100 million, but only took $82,102,379 worldwide. The film didn’t recoup its production budget, nor any additional marketing costs. It was a financial failure for the studio.
Batman Begins (2005)
Batman Begins had a budget of $150 million and made $374,218,673 at the worldwide box office. The film was a financial success and also renewed faith in the financial performance of the franchise, following the under-performance of both Batman & Robin and Catwoman.
The Dark Knight (2008)
The Dark Knight’s production budget was $185 million. The film cleared $1 billion worldwide ($1,004,934,033 to be exact). This was a huge success for Warner Bros. Pictures and it became the studio’s first Batman movie to cross $1 billion mark.
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
The Dark Knight Rises’ budget was set at $250 million (a $65 million increase on its predecessor’s budget). The film made $1,084,939,099 (an $80 million increase on The Dark Knight) and became the second Batman movie to cross $1 billion.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016
As with The Dark Knight Rises, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice had a budget of $250 million, but it didn’t make quite so much money. The film made $873,634,919, making it a hit, but not quite the hit that Warner Bros.’ would have hoped for. If a solo Batman movie can make over $1 billion, the studio would expect more from a film that features two super heroes – especially two super heroes such as Batman and Superman.
Suicide Squad (2016)
Suicide Squad was given a budget of $175 million and it took $746,846,894 at the worldwide box office. It was another hit for Warner Bros. Pictures.
Justice League (2017)
To date, Justice League’s budget has not been disclosed, but with a sizeable cast of characters (Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman, Cyborg etc) it has been suggested the film cost around $300 million (maybe more). And this figure doesn’t include any marketing costs.
After completing its theatrical run, Justice League made $657,924,295 at the worldwide box office, which is far below expectations for a picture of this size (and its rumoured budget). The best-case scenario is that Justice League broke even, but it is likely to have cost the studio money.
After the poor performance of Justice League, Warner Bros. Pictures was relieved to have another huge success story on its hands, in the shape of the Joaquin Phoenix-starring Joker. The movie was produced on a budget of $55 million and cleared the $1 billion mark, making $1,071,884,607.
(Source: Box Office Mojo)
What is the highest grossing Batman movie?
To date, the highest grossing Batman movie is The Dark Knight Rises. The movie was a significant financial hit for Warner Bros. Pictures and rounded off a successful run of pictures that fell under the banner of The Dark Knight trilogy (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises).
The second most successful Batman movie was Joker. The picture was a massive hit and cemented the Clown Prince of Crime’s status as a huge box office draw.
The two least successful movies in the Batman film series are Catwoman and Justice League. Both proved to be financial disappointments for Warner Bros. Pictures.
It also didn’t help that both projects had been in development for years. Catwoman was initially conceived as a spin-off of Batman Returns (so, should have hit cinemas in the ’90s, not the ’00s) and Justice League was originally set for a 2009 release (with a different cast and director).
But regardless of the hits and misses, the Batman movies have proved to be a good investment for Warner Bros. Pictures. In the majority of cases the films have recouped their production costs (and then some) and they have also become very lucrative sources of income for tie-in merchandise.
The moral of the story? Always bet on Bat!