Christian Bale re-enters the world of superhero cinema in Taika Waititi's Thor: Love and Thunder, but his villainous Gorr the God Butcher promises to be far different from the heroic Bruce Wayne/Batman. His inclusion is just one of many factors that makes Love and Thunder one of the most hotly-anticipated installments of the entire MCU thus far.
Waititi's movie is practically guaranteed to be one of the most financially successful movies in the careers of everyone involved, but it won't be Bale's first smash hit. Although not every one of the actor's best movies was a blockbuster, including Vice, Out of the Furnace, and 3:10 to Yuma, Bale is undeniably a box office draw.SCREENRANT VIDEO OF THE DAY
10 Shaft (2000) — $70 Million
By the time Shaft hit theaters, Bale had perfected his American accent and was well on his way to becoming one of the country's favorite movie stars. The 2000 reboot of the classic blaxploitation film series was Samuel L. Jackson's show through and through, but Bale was able to turn in a memorable scenery-gnashing performance as the racist white-collar villain.
Unlike American Psycho from April of the same year, Shaft was a relatively high-budgeted film ($46 million, per Box Office Mojo) released in the middle of the summer. In the end, it did fairly well for itself to the tune of $70 million from the United States and Canada, and a modest $37 million from international markets. The worldwide figure more than doubles the movie's cost, but it still wasn't enough for Paramount to greenlight a sequel, at least not right away.
9 The Fighter (2010) — $94 Million
Bale's Oscar-winning work as Dicky Eklund in David O. Russell's The Fighter is one of Redditors' favorite performances from the actor, and it's undoubtedly some transformative, career-defining work typical of the chameleon-like performer. Eklund is a down-and-out fighter well beyond his prime, but his younger half-brother (portrayed by Mark Wahlberg) stands a chance of rising higher than Dicky ever dreamed.
In general, a film needs to triple its production budget in worldwide revenue to turn a profit, partially due to the vast expense of marketing. The Fighter's Box Office Mojo page reports that it earned $93 million from domestic markets on a budget of just $25 million, making the $35.5 million it accrued from international territories all gravy.
8 Public Enemies (2009) — $97 Million
Heat's Michael Mann gave the gangster genre another memorable film with Public Enemies, the story of the FBI's efforts to bring down notorious career bank robber John Dillinger. Johnny Depp takes on the Dillinger role to an effectively intimidating extent, the same of which could be said of Bale's work as Agent Melvin Purvis.
Mann's film garnered $97 million from the domestic market, which is solid for a gangster film, but it also carried a Box Office Mojo-reported price tag of $100 mil. Even factoring in Public Enemies' $117 million international tally, the film is at best a very minor success.
7 Ford v Ferrari (2019) — $118 Million
James Mangold's modern classic Ford v Ferrari told the real-life story of Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and racer Ken Miles' (Bale) efforts to show up Enzo Ferrari at the famed track in Le Mans.
While Mangold's film did carry a hefty price tag of $97.6 million (per Box Office Mojo), it's also the type of film that seems to have some decent cultural longevity and profitability. But it was relatively profitable in theaters anyway, netting an impressive $117.6 million from U.S. and Canadian theaters and another $107.8 million from overseas territories.
6 Terminator Salvation (2009) — $125 Million
The Terminator franchise hoped to find its Salvation with the fourth installment, but missed the bar by a mile. Not only does the film misunderstand the main character of John Connor, who is more than the one-note, grizzled veteran of Terminator Salvation, but it misunderstands the appeal of the franchise as a whole: One seemingly-unkillable thing on a rampage, not a bombastic future-war extravaganza.
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines managed to skate by with $433 million worldwide on a $200 million budget, according to Box Office Mojo. Terminator Salvation, however, only earned $371 million worldwide on the same budget, per Box Office Mojo. As bad as that is on the surface, it's only worse when accounting for the six years of inflation in between installments.
5 Pocahontas (1995) — $142 Million
Disney's Pocahontas played fast and loose with historical accuracy, and that extends to Bale's character of Thomas. According to the character's Fandom page, he was "most likely" named after real-life Jamestown governor Thomas Gates. But the Thomas of the film doesn't remotely resemble that balding, bearded bureaucrat and instead serves as a friend and crewmate to John Smith (Mel Gibson).
Like the majority of Disney's other 1990s animated classics, Pocahontas was a big success. The Numbers puts the film's budget at $55 million, fairly standard for animated films of that period. Disney's film nearly septupled that, netting $141.5 million from U.S. and Canadian theaters as well as $205.5 million from overseas territories.
4 American Hustle (2013) — $150 Million
Bale reteamed with his The Fighter director, David O. Russell, for the wild true story American Hustle. Like the boxing movie, Hustle has gone on to be one of Christian Bale's most critically lauded movies. He portrays Irving Rosenfeld, one half of a con-artist duo with Amy Adams' Sydney Prosser.
Considering the lineup, it's amazing that Russell was able to keep American Hustle's budget down to $40 million (per Box Office Mojo). It ended up being a phenomenal investment, as the film earned a whopping $150 million from domestic markets and another $101 from overseas theaters.
3 Batman Begins (2005) — $207 Million
Christopher Nolan is currently a household name even outside of cinema aficionados thanks to Interstellar and Inception. But when he was given the reins of the first caped crusader movie since Joel Schumacher's disastrous Batman & Robin, all he had under his belt was the micro-budgeted Following, the indie hit Memento, and the relatively successful Insomnia. Bale's star was on the rise but he had yet to find a studio project worthy of his talent (e.g. Reign of Fire and Captain Corelli's Mandolin). The complex role of Bruce Wayne/Batman ended up being the perfect fit, even if many unfairly criticize his voice while masked.
Bale's quotable Batman movie wasn't 2005's biggest cinematic hit right out of the gate, but it earned enough to ensure the existence of two far more profitable films. Box Office Mojo puts the budget of Nolan's first Bat-venture at $150 million. For such a name brand, there's little doubt Warner Bros. was disappointed in its $206.8 million domestic haul and lower $166.8 million overseas total. But Batman Begins' level of quality (and the Joker tease at the end) was enough to inspire hope for a brighter financial future.
2 The Dark Knight Rises (2012) — $448 Million
Bale donned the cape and cowl one final time for the trilogy closer The Dark Knight Rises. Sporting an impressive trailer showing snippets of a mysterious, partially-masked villain blowing up a football field, there was little doubt that the movie would end things in an entertaining and bombastic fashion. Unfortunately, it takes a long time to get there and often sidelines Bale in favor of Tom Hardy's Bane or Anne Hathaway's Catwoman.
The Dark Knight Rises was arguably the most hotly-anticipated film of 2012. The morally repulsive actions of one individual in Aurora, Colorado dampened the world's joy in having Batman back on the big screen, but it still opened to almost $161 million on a whopping budget of $250 million. And, while Rises didn't have the legs of the installment that preceded it, the film ended up with nearly $1.1 billion in ticket sales, according to Box Office Mojo.
1 The Dark Knight (2008) — $535 Million
The magnum opus of not just Batman films but of superhero cinema at large, Nolan's The Dark Knight has had more words written about it than are in the dictionary, and its a testament to the overall quality that Bale's Batman often takes the back burner, yet the film never misses a beat.
The moment Ledger's Joker started laughing in the theatrical trailer for The Dark Knight, it was practically guaranteed the movie would be a smash. And it was, as the film's $185 million budget was nearly matched by its domestic opening of $158 million alone. But then the movie held (per Box Office Mojo) with slim drops from weekend to weekend, ultimately earning nearly $535 million from stateside theaters and another $471 million from international territories.
NEXT: 10 Major Differences Between Robert Pattinson's & Christian Bale's BatmanShareTweetEmail Next MCU: 10 Times A Joke Changed The Whole Mood Related Topics
- Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)
- Box Office Mojo
- Christian Bale
Ben Hathaway is a Senior Writer (Lists) for Screen Rant. A former Therapeutic Day Treatment counselor, Ben is now a career writer. When not working, he is writing and self-publishing (on Amazon) novels under the name Scott Gray. In his spare time, he's reading on the porch or watching every film under the sun. Ben can be contacted at [email protected]More From Ben Hathaway