Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Batman, Inc. - The 3 Million Dollars Franchise

Last month, we saw Batman go corporate, to much critical acclaim, but corporations don't live on good reviews and word-of-mouth. No, what corporations need are profits, profits, profits! And in that case, Batman Incorporated has passed with flying colors in the first quarter of the financial year, to the tune of three million dollars that it moved in November just by selling comics. Yes, you read that right, 3,000,000 bucks. Hit the jump to see the sales numbers.

The Main Batman Titles

(Click for a larger image)

In the graph above you can see all the titles that feature Batman as a protagonist (regardless of continuity or who exactly is under the mask), including Detective Comics. Together, they all add up to slightly over 2 and a half million dollars in retail sales, and almost 700k comics sold in November alone. It should be noted, however, that not all of these titles were intended to ship on the same month since DC faced some serious delays in Batman & Robin #16 and Return of Bruce Wayne #6.

The biggest mover is by far Batman: The Return. This one shot, on top of being the top selling comic of the month, it's also priced at $4.99, which makes the franchise earn almost half a million dollars alone. The next three titles are also all priced $3.99, and together they net a million dollars between them. The other ten titles round up the list and add another million between them to the count.

The Auxiliary Titles

(Click for a larger image)

In addition to all the titles that Batman appears as a protagonist, there is a number of auxiliary titles with direct and definite ties to the caped crusader. These supporting Bat-titles include sidekicks, like Red Robin and Batgirl, and franchised heroes, like Batwoman and Knight & Squire. I decided to omit titles like Secret Six and Outsiders, because their connection is not as clear as the ones above, or even titles like JLA that feature Batman as a member of an ensemble. As you can see, these titles obviously do not sell as well as the main Batman titles, but together they still manage to move close to 170k copies, and net another half million to the franchise. 

The Grand Total

Together between all Batman and auxiliary titles, they add up to a total 856,692 issues sold, netting a grand total of 3,191,927 million dollars. I can imagine that the executive board of directors of Batman, Inc. will be quite happy with their sales this November.

The Fine Print

As you all probably know by now, these sales numbers are all approximate of the numbers of comics that are sold to comic book specialty stores in the United States. All numbers are obtained through the November 2010 sales reported by ICV2. The numbers above represent just the sales of single issue comics, not those of collected editions. The numbers above show the quantity of issues sold to retailers, not to actual consumers. I double checked the numbers and math, but there may still be errors. If you wish to see the spreadsheet I used to calculate the numbers above, you can click here.


November was a banner month for the Batman franchise, with sales unlike anything in the past couple of years, coming from a mixture of brand new series and conclusions to events. I imagine it will be quite hard for them to repeat a stunt of this magnitude.

It would also be quite interesting to see someone calculate just how big of a percentage of comics sold and money spent was just on Batman comics, but I'll leave that to someone with more patience and bigger math skills.

In the mean time, I'll leave you readers with a question: how many Batman titles did you buy in November? How much money did you spend on the franchise?

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Ivan said...

Men, remember when a single issue sold 1,000,000 copies?

Rawnzilla said...

Not entirely accurate, but an interesting post. A few things you have to consider:

Sales charts represent orders made by retailers in the direct market only. They do not represent the actual number of issues sold by retailers or printed by the publisher.

The actual cost of comics vary from store to store. Most retail stores receive a discount of 50% or more on DC comics, so they pay about $1.99 for a $3.99 comic. Publishers don't make $3.99 off of comics, not yet, at least.

Still, interesting post. There are just a lot of variables to consider.

Matt Duarte said...

@Ron: Could have sworn I mentioned it somewhere, but I added it to the Fine Print section. Yeah, I know that not every issue is sold to consumers, but I would wager a majority of the big ones on top of the chart do. I've also heard from several places that these charts, if anything, under-report the numbers of comics sold in total.

In the end, I think we can all agree with one thing: that's a shitload of Batman comics for one month.

Anonymous said...

I grabbed each of the top three "Batman" titles, and besides RoBW it was the only time I have purchased Batman issues.

Ken said...

the amazing thing is though, is that a lot of those titles are actually GOOD.

B&R, Detective, Inc., Knight & Squire, Red Robin, Batgirl, and S/B #78 were all good issues in November.

Compare that to the Superman titles or the X-Men titles, and it's very well done.

sdelmonte said...

And this does not include any of the myriad Batman TPBs out there. They probably provide a nice steady stream of revenue.

Beyond that, of course, Batman must be one of the biggest licensed characters around. Movies + video games + comics + cartoons = MONEY!

Anonymous said...

Matt, and we have not mentioned that for the first time in many years DC almost managed to outsell Marvel, the Batman titles appeared in 5 spots (i think) in the top 10 of most selling titles...

This was a great post, congrats.

Dis I mention Batman is the greatest comic book of all the times? ; )

Enrique G.

Will said...

I actually don't find it all that impressive. Batman: The Return and Batman Inc. were the top two sellers in November and neither book cracked 100,000 copies. This is worrisome for the whole industry. I'm not saying that the industry should be selling like it did in the early '90s, but as of just a few years ago, books were selling 150,000 copies. Imagine how much extra money would be early by selling an extra 50,000 copies?

Matt Duarte said...

@Will: The crazy thing is that Batman The Return made just as much money as a 2.99 comic selling 160k copies. Instead of worrying about getting new readers, DC (and Marvel) decided to make up for it by raising prices.

@Enrique: Yeah, this was a pretty impressive month for DC. As you said, 4 out of the top 5 comics were by them. One thing to keep in mind though, is that a couple of these were scheduled to come out in previous months. It means that whatever advantage they gained this month, it probably originated from missing sales in previous months.

Anonymous said...

ICV2 is a good ESTIMATOR of sales but as you said its to retailers not ACTUAL CONSUMERS. So the gap between DC/Marvel which looks so small this month according to ICV2 may or may not be real. We may never know until one of the big 2 actually builds a double digit lead and runs away with it.

This could be interesting. Marvel has the momentum of Thor and Captain America movies going up against DC with just Green Lantern in 2011. But in the past year they've launched more monthly ongoing X-Men books and cancelled more Avengers monthlies (Black Widow, Hawkeye/Mockingbird) than they have launched. Confusing strategy.

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