HomeBusinessMarvel Flounders at the Box Office With ‘The Marvels’

Marvel Flounders at the Box Office With ‘The Marvels’

Marvel Studios, once a superheroic powerhouse, has now lost its luster.

For 15 years, Marvel churned out hit after hit – a total of 32 movies, with the most recent, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” grossing $846 million in May. Despite a few bumps in the road, such as “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” which started with $106 million in February and went on to collect $476 million, even Marvel’s less successful releases still did well at the box office.

However, the studio suffered a major setback over the weekend with the release of “The Marvels.” This sequel, which cost approximately $300 million to produce and market, only brought in $47 million in the United States and Canada – the lowest ever for a Marvel film. Film consultant David A. Gross described the opening as an “unprecedented Marvel box office collapse.”

Until now, “The Incredible Hulk.” was considered the studio’s worst debut, grossing $79 million in the United States and Canada after adjusting for inflation. “The Marvels” is a sequel to “Captain Marvel,” which earned $153 million in opening-weekend ticket sales at domestic theaters in 2019.

“The Marvels,” featuring a trio of superheroines, racked up an additional $63.3 million in overseas revenue. Lead roles are played by Brie Larson, Teyonah Parris, and Iman Vellani, with Parris and Vellani reprising characters from Disney+ series. The film was directed by Nia DaCosta, making her the first Black woman to oversee a Marvel movie.

Disney’s executive vice president of theatrical distribution, Tony Chambers, acknowledged the disappointment of the results, considering Marvel’s successful track record. He suggested that there might have been a barrier to entry, with some people assuming they needed to have watched the Disney+ shows in order to understand the film.

However, Chambers expressed optimism about the film resonating with female audiences and vowed to keep promoting it. Disney had expected “The Marvels” to earn at least $70 million in domestic ticket sales and considered this a reasonable result.

Several factors possibly contributed to “The Marvels” underperforming, including an actors’ strike that prevented key cast members from participating in promotional events until it was resolved. Superhero movie fatigue and audience pickiness toward such spectacles could also have played a role.

A headline in The New York Times review of “The Marvels” read, “You’ve Seen This Movie 32 Times Before.” Analyst David A. Gross pointed out that this was the third superhero sequel featuring female characters to flop, alongside “Wonder Woman: 1984” and “Birds of Prey.” He suggested that female-powered entertainment is currently successful but struggles to resonate with audiences.

The major reason for Marvel Studios’ weekend flop likely involved its corporate owner, Disney, which has pushed Marvel to increase its output in recent years. Disney’s focus on churning out television series and directing fans to streaming content may have diluted the quality of imagery and storytelling within the Marvel franchise.

Disney’s CEO, Robert A. Iger, admitted that increased quantity may have negatively affected quality and announced intentions to scale back the output of Marvel Studios with only one film set for release next year, “Deadpool 3.” Three other Marvel movies have been pushed back to 2025.