There’s nothing super about the opening weekend of Disney’s superhero adventure “The Marvels,” which whiffed at the box office with $63 million internationally and $110 million globally.
Those figures are far behind expectations (heading into the weekend, Disney hoped for $140 million or more, and even that wouldn’t have been great for the $220 million-budgeted tentpole) and rank as one of the worst worldwide debuts in the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
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“The Marvels” is the 33rd MCU film and the sequel to 2019’s billion-dollar behemoth, “Captain Marvel,” which debuted to a massive $302 million internationally and $455 million globally. That film, which introduced Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers, was fortuitously sandwiched between two of the biggest movies of all time, 2018’s “Avengers: Infinity War” and 2019’s “Avengers: Endgame.”
But there are other reasons behind the brutal drop in ticket sales. “Captain Marvel” came at a time when the MCU — an unrivaled franchise that has delivered $30 billion globally across 15 years — could do no wrong at the box office. In the time since, Disney has inundated viewers with countless spinoffs, sequels and TV series on the big and small screen. “The Marvels” demonstrates that Earth’s Mightiest Heroes are mortals, after all.
“The notion of having connected universes and characters traveling between the big and small screen has created some disinterest by audiences,” says senior Comscore analyst Paul Dergarabedian.
Though none of the overseas territories were standout, China landed the biggest start outside of the U.S. with a soft $11.7 million, followed by the U.K. with $4.3 million, Indonesia with $3.7 million, Korea with $3.5 million and France with $3.1 million. “The Marvels” also failed to resonate in Imax as the premium format contributed just $5.6 million internationally and $10 million worldwide.
Nia DaCosta (“Candyman”) directed “The Marvels,” which again spotlights Larson as Captain Marvel, and elevates the profile of Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau and Iman Vellani as Ms. Marvel. Like the 32 movies before it, the trio of heroes are tasked with saving the universe from forces that seek to destroy it. “The Marvels” has not been embraced by critics (it holds a 63% on Rotten Tomatoes), though reviewers have praised the breezy runtime (it’s the shortest MCU movie to date) and Vellani’s turn as Ms. Marvel.
With future movies, Disney’s CEO Bob Iger has recently promised a return to quality over quantity. The studio has time to reassess because, for now, “Deadpool 3” is the only MCU film on the calendar for 2024.
“After decades of unwavering fan loyalty, the superhero genre seems to be at a crossroads and a reassessment of what will drive audiences to the multiplex is in order,” Paul Dergarabedian adds. “Marvel [is a] massive brand that remains appealing to audiences around the world, but new strategies may have to be instituted to ensure future success.”
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