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The Superhero Battle for the Bottom Line

Which comic-book studio can claim the super power of accounting? Disney-owned Marvel has spent less on average to earn more than DC
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Photographer: Everett Collection

There's no great secret about what will happen when Marvel's phenomenally bankable superhero team confronts a mad robot intent on annihilating the entire human race. Punches will be thrown, skyscrapers will tumble, and popcorn will be spilled by excited North American fans, who are expected to crowd into multiplexes, starting Friday, to enjoy what is likely to be the summer’s biggest movie, projected to rake in $217 million over the weekend. 

Marvel has been conspicuously silent about how much it is spending on Avengers: Age of Ultron. It is almost certainly a breathtaking figure, too. The Disney-owned studio invested a total of $300 million to produce 2012's The Avengers, and the film went on to make $1.5 billion worldwide, according to Ultron has been slathered with more special effects that any previous Marvel movie, which suggests that the studio splurged even more on the sequel.