Box Office: “The Marvels” Opens with the Lowest MCU Opening Weekend Ever, Misfiring With $47 Million

Disney‘s Marvel Cinematic Universe is no longer a bulletproof box-office franchise.

That much is evident following the misstep of “The Marvels,” which made the worst launch in MCU history with $47 million in its first weekend of sales. Early monitoring had the total closer to $75–80 million, but in recent weeks, those estimates have drastically dropped to $60–65 million. “The Marvels” failed to live up to the low expectations and became the uncommon failure of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with negative reviews and stars like Brie Larson unable to promote the movie because of the SAG strike (which concluded on Friday).

Only two other movies in the massive series (“The Marvels” is the 33rd chapter in 15 years) have debuted at less than $60 million, not including “The Incredible Hulk” (2008), which made $55.4 million, and “Ant-Man” (2015), which made $57.2 million. The other two big-screen adventures in the franchise to open this year, “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” ($106 million) in February and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” ($118 million) in May, both managed to hit triple digits in their respective debuts, despite the MCU occasionally displaying signs of wear and tear in its Spandex.

“The Marvels” also fell short of expectations at the international box office, with $63.3 million from 51 territories for a worldwide start of $110 million. Disney had hoped to generate at least $140 million globally over the weekend.

The response (or lack thereof) to “The Marvels” is unexpected given that the ardent MCU fandom has elevated even less popular films to profitable box office releases. “The Marvels,” which was utterly rejected by audiences, may find it difficult to recover as the Christmas season heats up with family-friendly movies like Disney’s “Wish,” the prequel to “The Hunger Games,” and “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.” This is problematic since comic book tentpoles are expensive to make; “The Marvels” required $220 million to make and another $100 million to market the movie to moviegoers worldwide.

Franchise Entertainment Research’s David A. Gross claims that “this is an unprecedented Marvel box office collapse.” “The marketing of the movie was harmed by the strikes, but that isn’t what’s driving these numbers.”

The Marvels, helmed by Nia DaCosta, features Larson, Teyonah Parris, and Iman Vellani in supporting roles. It is the follow-up to 2019’s multibillion-dollar hit film “Captain Marvel.” The spectacular $153 million opening weekend of the first movie was far from repeated by the sequel. Nevertheless, “Captain Marvel” was a movie that comic book lovers should not miss because it was released in between two of the biggest films of all time, “Avengers: Infinity War” (2018) and “Avengers: Endgame” (2019).

With the casual snap of Thanos’ fingers, Marvel might unleash a billion-dollar behemoth at the box office at that moment. The cultural impact of “Endgame” was always going to be difficult, if not impossible, to surpass, but the box office performance of some of the movies that followed it has been astonishingly low. This occurs at the same time as Disney has debuted a plethora of new characters on both the big and small screen through spinoffs, sequels, and TV shows. It’s a lot to keep up with for both infrequent watchers and Marvel fans.

“Since the pandemic, superhero movies have suffered from TV saturation, unimaginative and bad movies, and simultaneous streaming,” says Gross.

Does this imply that society has finally succumbed to superhero fatigue? Not invariably. But now that it’s evident that fans aren’t interested in watching just any old superhero movie on the big screen, Disney may have to face up to the catastrophic reception “The Marvels” received. Due to production delays brought on by the strikes, Disney earlier this week postponed the release of the next four MCU films, “Deadpool 3,” “Captain America: A Brave New World,” “Thunderbolts,” and “Blade.” This allows the studio to adjust its plan before Earth’s Mightiest Heroes make a comeback to theaters.

The majority of Marvel’s films have typically benefited from goodwill. Right now, the antithesis of that trend is evident, according to Boxoffice Pro head analyst Shawn Robbins. “Disney needs to give Kevin Feige and the Marvel brain trust as much creative freedom as they can right now in order to steer clear of problems.”

As “The Marvels” was the sole new nationwide release this weekend, the box office charts were rounded out by a few holdovers. In its third weekend of release, “Five Nights at Freddy’s” fell to second place with $9 million from 3,694 theaters. This time of year, Universal and Blumhouse’s frightful video game adaption has been a shining star, earning an impressive $127 million in North America and $215 million globally so far.

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