While there are hundreds of characters in the Marvel Comics universe, Spider-Man has proven to be one of the most beloved over the decades. Created by comic book guru Stan Lee in the 1960’s, the non-traditional superhero has drawn in fans and dollars the world over. From two-dimensional illustration to cartoon series, blockbuster movies, merchandise and even a Broadway play, the Spider-Man brand is big business. With the recent success of Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark and a new potential blockbuster film, The Amazing Spider-Man, on the calendar for this summer, BlackEnterprise.com Decodes this Marvelous brand. —William Ketchum III
SWINGING DOWN BROADWAY
Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark may have gotten a negative reception from critics and bad publicity for several injured actors during production, but the controversial play did extremely well at the box office. During the first full week of 2011, the play had the highest box-office gross on Broadway, with a total of $1,588,514. Turn Off The Dark continued its New Year revenue run in 2012 as well. The Broadway League reported that throughout the first week of 2012, the play earned $2,941,790 over nine performances, setting a record for the highest single-week gross of any show in Broadway history.
COMIC BOOK CASH
According to The Comics Chronicles, The Amazing Spider-Man comic book had a total paid circulation [TPC] average of 105,948 as recently as 2008. In its peak year of 1993, its TPC average was 592,442. Those impressive numbers only represent a single series out of the dozens of other Spider-Man spin-offs, including popular comics like Ultimate Spider-Man and Spider-Man: Chapter One. Last year, Ultimate Spider-Man writer Brian Michael Bendis created a new story arc featuring Miles Morales, the first half-Black, half-Hispanic version of the web-slinging hero.
Over the years, Spider-Man has surfaced in six television cartoons, with each having different results. The most popular was Spider-Man (also known as Spider-Man: The Animated Series), which aired for five seasons. According to IMDB, the series’ cancelation had nothing to do with ratings. The then-president of Fox Kids network, Margaret Loesch, shut down Marvel Films Animation and decided to continue several of the station’s comic series with Saban Entertainment. The Spectacular Spider-Man series was another success. According to Nielsen Research Media, the premier episode registered a 1.2/3 household rating, landing the top viewership in the 10am time slot during the 2007-2008 season for Kids’ WB! The second episode fared even better with a top household rating of 1.4/4 for the 10:30am time slot. A new animated series, Ultimate Spider-Man, will premier later this year as the centerpiece of a Marvel Universe, a dedicated Marvel programming block by Disney XD.
The first Spider-Man film took 22 years to develop, but it sure paid off when it finally hit theatres in 2002. Starring Tobey Maguire as protagonist Peter Parker, it was the first film to reach $100 million in its first weekend, including a record-breaking opening day of $39,406,872. Spider-Man 2 broke its own record two years later, with $43.6 million. The final leg of the trilogy was critically panned, but its impact was already made: CNBC reports the Spider-Man movie franchise’s total worldwide gross at $2.5 billion, ranking it as the eighth-highest grossing film franchise of all time.