Spider-Man has a new rival. The famous webhead once stood as the most commercially powerful superhero, but a franchise reboot in conjunction with the rise of other comic book properties have made the character decidedly less super. In terms of popularity, Sony's (NYSE:SNE) Spider-Man has been eclipsed by heavy-hitters Batman and Iron-Man. More surprisingly, global box office haul suggests that Captain America may currently have more commercial appeal than Peter Parker and his spidery antics.

After two weekends at the American box office, The Amazing Spider-Man 2's performance is looking far from spectacular. Conversely, Disney's (NYSE:DIS) Captain America: The Winter Soldier is an unqualified hit and currently stands as the year's biggest earner. Sony's superhero picture is performing better than Cap's second outing in overseas markets, but that advantage might not be enough to drive the film to higher overall earnings. Can Amazing Spider-Man 2 catch Captain America: The Winter Soldier at the box office?

Hats off to the Cap

The newest Captain America movie opened in U.S. theaters on April 4 and currently has a global box office haul of approximately $696 million. Amazing Spider-Man 2 opened in U.S. cinemas on May 2 and has earned approximately $551 million globally. Before this year, the idea that these two films would be on track to earn similar amounts would have been laughable. Disney and Marvel's first Captain America generated roughly $371 million in global box office. For comparison, the first of Sony's Spider-Man reboots snared approximately $752 million. Now, Sony's sequel is on track for a flat performance while Disney's Winter Soldier has already nearly doubled what the first Captain America pic achieved.

Does Spider-Man have legs?

After debuting with a $92 million opening weekend, The Amazing Spider-Man posted a $37 million performance in its second American frame. The film's opening weekend lagged Winter Soldier's approximately $95 million achievement. Amazing Spider-Man 2 also got clowned by Universal's Neighbors, which opened with approximately $51 million in the past weekend. Sony's franchise reboot is showing weakness at the domestic box office.


Comparing the two "Amazing Spider-Man" films over two weekends, the first film earned approximately $201 million while the sequel racked up $148 million. Comparing the films across their first 11 days (in an attempt to adjust for the fact that The Amazing Spider-Man did not open on a weekend) produces earnings of $160 million for the series opener and $148 million for The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Close proximity to Captain America: The Winter Soldier and a failure to sell audiences on the franchise reboot are likely contributors to the drop-off.

The overseas picture

Spider-Man's ho-hum American performance is being offset by growth in overseas markets. Compared across four weekends of foreign box office, Amazing Spider-Man 2 has earned approximately $403 million against its predecessor's $385 million. The biggest growth driver has been China, where the recent Spider-Man film earned approximately $54 million in its first week, compared to the first film, which generated roughly $49 million in its entire Chinese run. Even with solid foreign performance, the film is still tracking almost exactly in line with its predecessor. This is particularly worrying, as the sequel seems to be enduring less positive word of mouth, which bodes ill for its continued haul and the future of the series.

After seven weekends at the overseas box office, Captain America: The Winter Soldier has brought in approximately $451 million, making it clear that Spider-Man is still the bigger foreign property, but also that Disney's handling of its comic book properties stands head and shoulders above the competition. At this point, Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Captain America: The Winter Soldier are on track to earn staggeringly similar box office totals. Each film now looks to earn between $725 million and $750 million. Still, Disney walks away from this matchup as the clear winner.

Captain America is the clear winner


The production budget for Amazing Spider-Man 2 is said to have been approximately $250 million, while Disney's Winter Soldier was made for just $170 million. Perhaps more importantly, the most recent Captain America film injected substantial energy into the broader Marvel properties and established the character as a top tier hero. Conversely, Amazing Spider-Man 2 now looks like a very weak springboard for the type of universe building that Sony hopes to pull off.

Sony needs to inject Spider-Man with super serum...

The future of Sony's film unit is hugely reliant on the Spider-Man property. The company is currently developing spinoffs Venom and The Sinister Six, in addition to 2016's Amazing Spider-Man 3 and a still-untitled 2018 Spider-film. It now seems clear that Amazing Spider-Man 2 will not do the broader property any great favors. Regardless of whether Amazing Spider-Man 2 manages to inch above The Winter Soldier's box office total, Disney's Captain America has supplanted Sony's Spider-Man. 

Keith Noonan has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of Walt Disney. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.