‘The Marvels’ Gets Grounded at the Global Box Office- Is the MCU Dead?
Now that the dust has settled, it is safe to say that The Marvels is a disaster for Marvel Studios.
It wasn’t just American audiences that chose to stay home this weekend rather than see the newest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), but international audiences also greeted The Marvels with apathy.
The Captain Marvel sequel managed a paltry $63.3 million internationally, well below expectations. In total the film grossed $110 million this weekend, well below the muted $140 million opening that Disney was hoping for.
With the Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, in addition to Disney’s own Wish, on the horizon, it seems unlikely that The Marvels will have the kind of extended run that would make the film profitable.
How Much Did the Strike Hurt?
The Marvels was clearly hampered by the SAG-AFTRA strike which caused stars Brie Larson, Iman Vellani, and Teyonah Parris to be unable to promote the film.
Still, even the much-maligned Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania was able to double The Marvels‘ domestic box office haul. Clearly, the actor’s strike did not make a $50 million difference.
“This is an unprecedented Marvel box office collapse,” says David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. “The strikes hurt the film’s marketing, but that’s not what’s driving these numbers.”
Captain Marvel, which was given a prime release date in between Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, dominated the box office upon its release. The film earned $153 million domestically during its opening weekend, on its way to a $1 billion total haul.
Is Marvel Dead?
While the failure of The Marvels will surely lead to an avalanche of think pieces pontificating on “superhero fatigue” and writing the MCU’s obituary, simply saying Marvel is finished as a golden goose does not tell the whole story.
Despite Quantuamania’s failure at the box office earlier this year, Marvel’s struggles have been overstated. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3. was a bonafide hit, while Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Thor: Love and Thunder delivered strong numbers.
A Whole New World
Instead, the lesson from The Marvels should be about the broader box office. We are no longer in 2019, where films are regularly launching into the stratosphere.
Instead, big-budget releases in 2023 are just as likely to drastically underperform (The Flash, The Little Mermaid, Quantumania) than they are to blow past expectations (Super Mario Bros., Barbie, Oppenheimer).
Marvel isn’t dead. It still has legions of fans who will turn out to see the next blockbuster movie. What is clear, however, is that the studio is no longer bulletproof.
Luckily, Marvel Studios will have time to regroup as Deadpool 3 will be the studio’s only major release next year.
It may be back to the drawing board for Marvel, but it is far too early to write the studio’s epitaph.
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