This past February, 20th Century Fox broke with tradition and released Deadpool as a big budget (though not that big), franchise starting, R-rated comic book movie. It was a risky move, but one that paid off in a major way for the studio. Think about this: only two of the top twenty-five highest grossing comic book adaptations have been rated R. This likely comes as no surprise to most. The bottom line is, a PG-13 or PG rated movie reaches a larger audience than an R-rated movie — even if those under 17 will try and sneak in without their parents.
Suicide Squad, Warner Bros.’ latest installment in their DC Extended Universe (rated PG-13) could have been rated R. David Ayer, who directed the film, had only directed R-rated movies prior to the release of Suicide Squad. A film that centers on a team of murderers and assassins easily could have, and maybe should have, been more gritty. Now though, with the success of Deadpool, it seems studios may finally be willing to buck the trend of sacrificing a creative vision for the sake of an expected larger audience. And so, it was announced that Hugh Jackman’s final outing as Wolverine will indeed be rated R, and will likely embrace the unapologetic violence that fans of the character are accustomed to seeing in the comics.
So, how well can we expect Wolverine 3 (now titled Logan) to perform? The point of the forthcoming list is to lay out prior R-rated comic book grosses as way to speculate on the success of Logan. So, here are the comparables – the 16 Highest Grossing R-Rated Comic Book Movies. Just to note, while not adjusted for inflation, where relevant, those beefed up numbers will be mentioned. Additionally, this list is organized by domestic gross, not worldwide, though both are discussed.
16. Kick-Ass ($48 million)
It is a safe bet that Logan will finish far ahead of the first few films on this list, if nothing else, due to name recognition and franchise establishment. Still, it is important we address the low end of expectations. On a reported $30 million budget, Mathew Vaughn’s Kick-Ass, based on Mark Millar’s comic of the same name, was generally successful. The film grossed just shy of $50 million domestically and $100 million worldwide. And Kick-Ass‘s MPAA rating was never in question. The film included crude language and gruesome violence, faithfully embracing the source material.
The film followed Dave Lizewski, a student, who takes on the moniker of Kick-Ass to fight injustice in his city. Of course, the breakout of the film was the foul mouthed Hit-Girl, played by Chloë Grace Moretz. With its relatively low budget, and less recognizable source material, Kick-Ass was likely never intended to be a runaway box office hit. Still, the film proves that you can still reach a sizable audience without compromising the story. Could you imagine Kick-Ass as a PG-13 movie? Hit-Girl would have been insanely boring.
15. The Crow ($50 million)
One of the older R-rated comic book adaptations was the 1994 film, The Crow, directed by Alex Proyas, and based off the comic book of the same name by James O’Barr. The well received film, which has since its release attained a considerable cult status, is perhaps best known for the on-set tragedy that led to the untimely death of the film’s star, Brandon Lee. The film, though, was all but finished when the accident occurred, and it ultimately proved to be a sleeper hit, earning just over $50 million at the domestic box office.
The Crow was released several years prior to the big boom in comic book adaptations. Sure, there was Richard Donner’s Superman, and Tim Burton’s Batman films, but that was about it. So, there was little pressure on the studio to release a fan friendly PG-13 movie. This allowed Proyas to maintain a faithful adaptation of O’Barr’s comic, which follows a man, who before his murder witnesses the rape of his wife, only to be resurrected and go on a vengeful killing spree.
14. Blade Trinity ($52 million)
One of the most successful R-rated comic book franchise to date is Blade, starring Wesley Snipes as the titular vampire hunter. We will forgo the spoiler warnings and just tell you now; all three Blade films are on this list. Blade was one of the first mainstream comic book characters to receive an R-rated adaptation, and his first big screen outing was clearly successful enough to spawn a full-on trilogy. New Line, who distributed the Blade films, easily could have toned down the blood (even if the series is about vampires) in an attempt to reach a larger audience. This was a character, after all, who had appeared on the popular children’s cartoon, Spiderman: The Animated Series.
Blade Trinity, which was written and directed by David Goyer, is generally considered the worst of the series, and will certainly be surpassed by Logan at the box office. On a $65 million budget, the film grossed just shy of $130 million at the global box office. Even if Logan loses some cash compared to The Wolverine due to its R-rating (which is no guarantee after Deadpool) it will still surpass Blade Trinity‘s gross. After all, the lowest earning film in the entire X-Men series is the original, which grossed nearly $300 million worldwide.
13. Blade ($70 million)
Hey, we told you all three Blade films would appear on this list, and that two of the flicks are so close together is just a sign of consistency. The first Blade, considered by many to be the best in the three film franchise, establishes Snipes as the vampire hunter and daywalker with a penchant for violence (and some nifty moves with a sword). At the time of its release, Blade set a new box office high for an R-rated comic book adaptation, earning just over $130 million worldwide, $70 million of which came from the domestic box office. Adjusted for inflation, Blade would have earned about $129 million domestically. For reference, Hugh Jackman’s latest solo outing as the adamantium-laced mutant, The Wolverine, grossed $132 million domestically.
Adjusting Blade‘s grosses for inflation gives us what is probably the best low end indicator for where Logan may end up. After all, The Wolverine‘s box office totals of $132 million domestically and $400+ million worldwide will likely be surpassed by the sequel. If for nothing else, Hugh Jackman’s last outing as the character is soon to be heavily marketed, and the increased violence will likely be a selling point rather than a turn off. But still, Blade, much like Wolverine, is a character who resorts to violence first, and asks questions second — making him a good comparison.
12. V For Vendetta ($70.5 million)
V for Vendetta, released in 2006, is a political thriller based off of Alan Moore’s dystopian graphic novel of the same name. The film, which stars Hugo Weaving as V and Natalie Portman as Evey, grossed just over $70 million domestically and $132 million worldwide. Inflation does not change things much, with V for Vendetta‘s domestic gross rising to just over $90 million when adjusted.
It would be extremely surprising to see Logan fail to reach any of the marks set by V for Vendetta. As we mentioned, Hugh Jackman’s prior solo outing, The Wolverine, grossed over $400 million worldwide, and did not include the appeal of finally seeing the character in all the glory of a gritty R-rated adaptation. However, V for Vendetta makes for an interesting measuring stick because (like Logan will) it takes place in the future.
V for Vendetta takes place in the 2020s, when the UK is headed by a fascist government ruling over a police state, where oppression and tyranny are commonplace. While that will not be the plot of Logan, the themes may be similar, as hate towards mutants will likely still play a role.
11. Sin City ($74 million)
In 2005, Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez co-directed Sin City, which was the film adaptation of Frank Miller’s series of comics of the same name. The film turned out to be quite the cinematic achievement, successfully capturing the neo-noir look and feel of Miller’s comics, and utilizing a tremendous cast to bring us one of the better R-rated comic book movies to date. Unfortunately the duo missed the mark on their follow-up, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.
Sin City‘s R-rating allowed a faithful adaptation of Frank Miller’s source material, while likely sacrificing little at the box office. The film ultimately grossed a shade under $75 million domestically and just over $158 million worldwide. On a reported budget of $40 million, the film was an unmitigated success. The film also garnered a 78% on Rotten Tomatoes (both from the users and critics), which undoubtedly contributed to the film’s gross. This is an important point for Logan. If the R-rating allows James Mangold to deliver the best Wolverine solo film yet, it is likely that the box office will react accordingly (assuming anyone cares, since none of the Wolverine solo outings have been “certified fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes).
10. 2 Guns ($75.6 million)
While this may be unknown to some, the Denzel Washington/Mark Wahlberg vehicle 2 Guns is indeed a comic book adaptation. The R-rated buddy film was directed by Baltasar Kormakur and based on the comic series of the same name by Steven Grant. Grant is probably best known for his comic series, The Punisher, released in 1986. Just to warn you now, its a crying shame, but no Punisher adaptation makes this list — such a missed opportunity.
In reality, 2 Guns is not a great comp for Logan. The film was made on a $60 million budget (likely half of what Logan‘s budget will end up being) and occupies more comedic space than Wolverine’s final solo outing will. Still, the film did gross $75 million domestically and over $130 million worldwide, making it a reasonable success. 2 Guns may actually be a film that shows why studios try to attain a PG-13 rating instead of an R-rating. While 2 Guns certainly earned its rating — the film included its fair share of violence and language — the plot would have changed very little had those elements been toned down. Then, the film could have reached a larger audience and possibly earned a bit more money.
9. Constantine ($75.9 million)
Another 2005 release, Constantine, starring Keanu Reeves as the titular occult detective, was directed by Francis Lawrence (now known for his work in The Hunger Games franchise) and grossed over $230 million worldwide. The film was more successful internationally than it was domestically, only grossing $75 million at the domestic box office (around $100 million if adjusted for inflation). This was a bit of a miss for Warner Bros., who could have used Constantine as the beginning of their foray into DC/Vertigo’s supernatural characters. Of course, now a decade later, we do have news that the upcoming flick Dark Universe is indeed a DCEU priority.
John Constantine has enough in common with Wolverine that the two make for an interesting comparison. Wolverine battles his inner demons, while Constantine fights a war with actual demons. The two, though, share a similar irreverent personality, including their own brand of scathing wit. Constantine‘s $230 million haul will almost certainly be surpassed by Logan. Though, adjusted for inflation, Constantine would likely (international figures are notoriously tricky to adjust) come in at just over $300 million, which probably could be used as Logan‘s absolute floor worldwide.
8. Blade II ($82 million)
Here it is, the last Blade film on the list. When Blade II was released in 2002, it surpassed its predecessor’s gross, setting a new domestic box office high for an R-rated comic book adaptation (though the record only lasted a few months). Blade II‘s $82 million domestically and just over $155 million worldwide are highs for the franchise. Adjusted for inflation, Blade II U.S. only take comes in just under Blade at roughly $122 million — again, likely the absolute floor for Logan.
Blade II, which was directed by Guillermo del Toro, and again, written by David Goyer, can be seen as a bit of a missed opportunity. Coming off the good will from the first film in the franchise, it could have been expected that the vampire hunter would be the first R-rated comic book adaptation to cross $100 million domestically. Unfortunately, the film was not as well-received as the first installment, and failed to make that mark. (Though the next film on our list certainly did.)
7. Road to Perdition ($104 million)
The Sam Mendes-directed and Tom Hanks-starring Road to Perdition was released just four months after the previous entry on our list, and it became the first R-rated comic book adaptation to cross $100 million domestically. The film, based on the comic series of the same name by Max Allan Collins, takes place during the Great Depression, and follows Hanks’ character, Mike Sullivan Jr., an enforcer for the mob. The film was a commercial and critical success, earning several Academy Award nominations, and grossing over $180 million worldwide.
Admittedly, Road to Perdition is not the best comp for Logan. After all, the film was a period piece, focusing on the mob and the father-son dynamic between Hanks’ character and his eldest son, Michael (played by future Superman Tyler Hoechlin). However, there are some parallels that can be drawn. For instance, Logan is set to explore the relationship between Wolverine and Charles Xavier (portrayed likely for the last time by Sir Patrick Stewart), and, has been teased to include a young girl with a connection to Logan (she is all but confirmed to be X-23).
6. 300: Rise of an Empire ($106 million)
Okay, now we are starting to get to the real money makers, the films that provide a clearer range for where Logan may end up when it’s all said an done. 300: Rise of An Empire was the 2014 follow-up to Zack Snyder’s highly successful film, 300. The semi-sequel (it takes place before, during, and after the events of its predecessor) stretches the definition of comic book adaptation, as it is based on an unpublished work by Frank Miller, Xerxes. The graphic novel was due to come out around the release of 300: Rise of An Empire, but that never happened. Still, as a follow-up to 300, we’re counting it on the list.
300: Rise of An Empire failed to achieve the same critical or box office success of its predecessor, but still earned over $100 million at the domestic box office and nearly $340 million worldwide. Its 43% on Rotten Tomatoes (its user score was not much better) likely contributed to the decline in gross. As did the fact that the style was no longer original. Still, with the film having tripled its reported $110 million budget, it should be considered a success.
300: Rise of An Empire likely does present us with our first realistic floor for Logan. While Logan is almost certainly going to gross more than $106 million domestically, the mid-$300 million worldwide range would place the film in the same ball park as X-Men: First Class and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. With the growth in the international box office, this seems to be unlikely, but if the R-rating did turn off a casual viewer, and the film does not generate positive word of mouth, it is possible that Logan could fall in this range when all is said and done.
5. Watchmen ($107 million)
One of the most highly anticipated comic book adaptations of all time was Watchmen. The Zack Snyder-directed film, which was based off the groundbreaking comic series of the same name by Alan Moore, grossed just over $100 million domestically and $180 million worldwide. The film, which opened to a strong $55 million in its first weeken, before ultimately falling off pretty quickly, was not the massive success that Warner Bros. had hoped it would be. The film remains divisive among fans, with some strongly praising it as a faithful adaptation of the source material, while others complain that it could not be enjoyed by a general audience.
Logan will out gross Watchmen (you can take that to the bank). In fact, it would not be surprising if Watchmen’s entire worldwide gross is bested by Logan‘s international take alone. The bottom line is the international box office is too much of a machine now for Logan to earn any less than X-Men Origins: Wolverine’s $190 million+ take — and even that would probably be considered a disaster scenario for Fox.
4. Kingsman: The Secret Service ($128 million)
While Kingsman: The Secret Service may have a more lighthearted and comedic tone than we will see in Logan, it does serve as a great indicator for what the latter may gross. Kingsman grossed over $128 million domestically and $414 million worldwide, both of which are practically the exact figures for Hugh Jackman’s last solo outing, The Wolverine. And, other than Deadpool (oops, just spoiled number one on the list), Kingsman is the most recent film on this list to be released, making it a great indicator for the global box office.
Kingsman is also an R-rated comic book adaptation that was very well received. The film currently holds a 74% on Rotten Tomatoes with an 84% user score. Both those scores would be highs for the Wolverine franchise. Certainly, Fox is hoping to build off the goodwill of Deadpool and out gross The Wolverine, but if the R-rating causes the studio to lose some casual viewers instead of gain them, it is possible that Logan ends up around Kingsman‘s $128 million domestic take. It is less likely that Logan will fail to out gross its predecessor’s international haul, meaning the film will likely earn more than Kingsman‘s $414 million worldwide.
3. Wanted ($134 million)
2008’s Wanted, starred Angelina Jolie and James McAvoy, and was based on Mark Millar’s comic book series of the same name. The film, which follows Wesley Gibson (McAvoy) after he learns he is the son of a master assassin, grossed $134 million domestically and $341 million worldwide. The film earned similar critical reception to The Wolverine, with a 72% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 69% user score. Taking the worldwide box office off the table for a moment, Wanted serves as another decent comp for Logan. The film’s $134 million domestic take and $50 million opening weekend, are practically identical to The Wolverine. However, as we mentioned before, you know that Fox wants to obliterate those numbers.
Still, Fox would likely be thrilled with the positive reception and word of mouth that Wanted received, leading many to call for a sequel. While that sequel has yet to come about, hopefully we all leave Logan hoping that Hugh Jackman changes his mind and comes back for one more film as Wolverine — or as many as he can stay jacked for.
2. 300 ($210 million)
At the time of its release, 300 delivered some of most stunning visuals we had seen in a movie theater. The film, which was directed by Zack Snyder and based on the comic series of the same name by Frank Miller (a name we have heard a few times on this list), was an unquestionable success. The film’s $70 million opening weekend became the third highest at the time for an R-rated movie, and the largest for an R-rated comic book adaptation by a healthy margin. 300‘s final tallies of $210 million domestically and $456 million worldwide were both highs for R-rated comic book movies, and stayed that way for nearly a decade.
300, which tells a fictionalized version of the 300 Spartans at the Battle of Thermopylae, serves as a pretty decent indicator of what Logan could possibly gross. Only four X-Men films have grossed more than 300‘s $210 million at the domestic box office. (Those films being X2: X-Men United, X-Men: Days of Future Past, X-Men: The Last Stand, and Deadpool.) With Logan being Hugh Jackman’s last outing as Wolverine, it is certainly possible that a $210 million haul is in play. Admittedly, however, those figures may be on the high end of expectations, since Hugh Jackman’s first two solo outings earned roughly $180 million and $130 million, respectively.
Adjusted for inflation, 300‘s domestic gross would be $265 million, and that number is likely out of reach for Logan. Of course, as proven by the last entry on this list, don’t bet against a violent character with a healing factor.
1. Deadpool ($363 million)
The highest grossing R-rated comic book adaptation is also the highest grossing R-rated movie worldwide (the domestic record is held by Passion of the Christ). That film, obviously, is Deadpool. The Ryan Reynolds-starring film pretty much obliterated everything we knew about the box office. R-rated movies just don’t open at $130 million in their opening weekend, let alone in February. Well, apparently they can, and do. Deadpool is a good example of why it may be difficult to speculate at this time on Logan‘s opening weekend and overall gross. When tracking first started on Deadpool a few weeks before its release, the film was expected to gross a very respectable $75 million in its opening weekend. Well, if you include the four day weekend, Deadpool doubled that number!
Ultimately, the Merc with a Mouth’s solo outing brought in over $363 million domestically, and a whopping $782 million worldwide. Both figures are highs for the X-Men film franchise, and will likely remain that way for a few years at least. Deadpool managed to tap in to everything fans have been waiting for. A comedic, yet unapologetically violent, adaptation of a character who was previously horrendously mishandled (looking at you X-Men Origins), this film was truly the total package.
For Logan to match Deadpool‘s numbers, Fox will have to create one of the greatest marketing campaigns they have ever launched, and the film’s word of mouth would have to be through the roof. The bottom line is that Logan will not reach Deadpool‘s numbers — they’re just unfathomable. Still, nobody believed Deadpool would gross what it did, so we’ll see.
This list covers the 16 highest grossing R-rated comic book movies ever. And, you may have noticed that only two such movies have grossed over $200 million domestically. Furthermore, only three have grossed over $450 million worldwide, with only Deadpool crossing (well, destroying) the $500 million worldwide mark. With the international box office continuing to expand, it is certainly possible that Logan will cross that threshold. If it does, it would become at least the fourth highest grossing X-Men film worldwide.
If you look at all nine X-Men films, the average gross is just over $200 million domestic and $486 million worldwide. In the end, those numbers are actually pretty good indicators of where we could find Logan. That would place Logan third on this list (which, again, is ordered domestically). What’s more likely is that Logan grosses more in the international box office, lifting Logan‘s worldwide total to $500 million-plus. Assuming the film is half as good as it’s shaping up to be, Fox’s mutant franchise could have another major hit on its hands.
What are your favorite R-rated comic book adaptations, and what do you think Logan could gross at the box office? Which comic movies would you like to see hard-R adaptations for? Let us know in the comments!