Between 1978 and 1987, Christopher Reeve starred in four live-action Superman movies. Each film was released on the big screen, but to varying degrees of success.

The general consensus was that Reeve was perfect in the role of Superman, however, after the second movie, the material he was given was increasingly poor. This drop off in quality led to a steep decline in ticket sales and as the films kept coming, the profitability started to dry up.

But how much money did the Christopher Reeve Superman movies make? Let’s take a look.

How much money did the Christopher Reeve Superman movies make?

Image: ©Warner Bros. Pictures/DC Entertainment

According to The Numbers, the Christopher Reeve Superman movies made the following: 

  • Superman: The Movie (1978) – $300,200,000
  • Superman II (1980) – $190,400,000
  • Superman III (1983) – $80,200,000
  • Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987) – $36,700,000

The first thing to note from the data above is that Superman: The Movie was the most successful film in the series, taking over $300 million – an impressive feat in 1978. On the opposite side of the chart is Superman IV, which was the least successful entry. 

The second thing to note is the Christopher Reeve Superman movies became considerably less profitable as the series went on. Superman II made around $110 million less than Superman: The MovieSuperman III made around $110 million less than Superman II; and Superman IV made less than half of what Superman III made.

In terms of box office returns, the series was on a steady decline after the first entry. When you consider how popular that first movie was (and still is) and factor in Christopher Reeve’s scene-commanding turn as Superman, it seems odd that the series took such a financial nosedive.

So, what happened?


Superman vs the budget 

Image: ©Warner Bros. Pictures/DC Entertainment

The decline in the box office reflects the decline on investment. In short, as the series progressed, less money was invested in the product.

Here are the budgets of each film:

  • Budget for Superman: The Movie (1978) – $55 million 
  • Budget for Superman II (1980) – $54 million
  • Budget for Superman III (1983) – $39 million 
  • Budget for Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987) – $17 million

With each new entry, production budgets were slashed and in the case of Superman IV, which was produced by Golan-Globus, the budget simply wasn’t enough to produce a credible film. Superman IV attempted to pull off the same spectacle and aesthetic of its predecessors, but without the money to back it up and the end result did not appeal to audiences.

If you sit and watch the films, and compare the first movie with the last, it is easy to see the differences. Superman: The Movie is a carefully developed picture, while Superman IV cuts corners at every opportunity.


Image: ©Warner Bros. Pictures/DC Entertainment

The most profitable Christopher Reeve Superman film is Superman: The Movie. This one film alone made just shy of what Superman IIIII and IV made collectively!

The total of all four Christopher Reeve Superman movies combined is: $607,500,000

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