SUNDAY AM WRITETHRU — after Saturday update: The last-minute push for The Marvels with an appearance by star Brie Larson on Friday’s The Tonight Show and at a theater in NYC post-actors strike have not moved weekend grosses any higher for Marvel Studios’ The Marvels. The film is posting a 3-day at the bottom of yesterday’s estimates with $47M, the lowest-ever for Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Don’t blame the running time, as The Marvels clocks in at 97 minutes versus other MCU pics, which have runtimes over 2 1/2 hours. The Marvel‘s Saturday was $15.3M, -30% against previews/Friday of $21.5M. Worldwide, per Nancy, who’ll have an update soon, is at $110M, which is also a bottom rung for the MCU and below the $140M we were forecasting.
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In regards to U.S. admissions, The Marvels came in per EntTelligence at 3.3M compared to other superhero bombs, Flash‘s 3.9M and Eternals‘ 5.5M.
Oh, also, The Marvels gets one of several post-pandemic B CinemaScores from audiences after Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (B+), Thor Love & Thunder (B+), Eternals (B), and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (B). Comscore/Screen Engine PostTrak exits are worse at 3 1/2 stars and a 73% positive.
By all accounts and by all sources, it’s a disastrous result for a $200M Marvel Studios movie. But, wait, didn’t we declare Apple Original Studios’ and Paramount’s $200M Killers of the Flower Moon at $44M a success a few weeks ago? Just sit down, I’ll explain in a bit.
The Marvels misfire is about the rusting of a platinum brand that’s in need of some serious –not polishing, rather, resurfacing. Months ago, who would have thought that Universal/Blumhouse’s Five Nights at Freddys two weeks ago in a day-and-date debut on Peacock would post a higher opening at the box office ($80M) than The Marvels? It’s interesting to put the two pieces of IP side-by-side, because it says something about Universal and Disney’s ability to harness fans around an event.
As we mentioned earlier, there’s a maelstrom of reasons why The Marvels didn’t work. Many will be quick to point to “superhero fatigue,” and that the great comic book movies of the millennium are now seeing their grand demise, just like the big Hollywood musicals of the 1960s.
Marvel die-hards are a devoted bunch, and when they know there’s a good movie on deck, they show up several times. Just a year ago, sequel Wakanda Forever: Black Panther scored an A, was in the Oscar mix with ultimately five noms (and a win), and opened to a massive $181.3M, and legged out to a near half-billion stateside and $859M worldwide.
Also, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 didn’t do too shabby for Disney, with a $118.4M opening and $359M domestic and $845M WW, etc. Excellent superhero movies sell, and there was no pulse on The Marvels going back to San Diego Comic-Con. I mean, despite the actors strike, there wasn’t a damn banner, billboard, or emblazoned logo plastic bag in the city. I mean, Disney could have at least dropped a featurette or a trailer to fans to wow them out in Hall H and send them into a social media frenzy. Why miss out on that opportunity before the 150K who still attended? It’s as though Disney knew this whipped-cream sequel was a dud and cut their losses.
Still, even after following a marketing playbook of promoting the pic heavily across sports and female-skewing series (iSpot says Marvels spots had best ad impressions on SOV: NFL (23.2%), MLB (7.1%), The Voice (3.2%), College Football (3.0%), Dancing With the Stars (2.4%)), it was clear there was nothing in the first fluffy trailer that triggered a want-to-see for Marvel fans, nor was there in the final trailer, which introduced the sequel’s villain, Dar-Benn, and vied to connect the property to the greater Avengers core films.
No, The Marvels meltdown isn’t about superhero fatigue. It’s about Disney’s overexposure of the Marvel Cinematic Universe brand on Disney+, and those moth holes are beginning to show: Keep what’s meant for the cinema in cinemas, and keep what’s meant for in-homes in the home. Meaning, this whole crossover streaming-into-film master plan isn’t working, nor is it really connected in a jaw-dropping way, and with Ms. Marvel not being one of the OTT services better series (ala WandaVision and Loki season one), there’s a whole quad of fans who either didn’t catch Ms Marvel, or who were too turned off by it that they sure as heck don’t want to see The Marvels. Per PostTrak, 64% of the The Marvels audience have Disney+.
But more to the point, Marvel Studios, The Marvels — with its crossover streaming series blah-blah — looks like it was built to be seen in homes, not to get audiences off the couch.
It’s interesting: with the launch of Echo on Disney+, Marvel has branded the series under a new label, Marvel Spotlight, encouraging viewers that this type of content doesn’t take an investment by them in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. They can approach Echo as though it’s a one-off series. That shift by Marvel Studios indicates it’s breaking free of spreading the MCU thinly across TV shows and movies (this despite the fact that Echo is a spinoff of Hawkeye and Daredevil). Marvel, let’s go back to the Netflix days, when Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and Punisher lived in homes and not on the big screen. It’s clearly better for business.
That “spread the Marvel thick on Disney+” was first suggested by CEO Bob Iger, and then later carried out by Bob Chapek. It’s no secret that the amount of less-than-stellar product Marvel is pumping out from overextending itself stems from that grand master plan. As Iger explained to investors on a recent earnings call in the wake of a lackluster Disney box office year of Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, Ant-Man 3, and Elemental: “I’ve always felt that quantity can be actually a negative when it comes to quality. And I think that’s exactly what happened. We lost some focus.”
Disney’s delay of the next phase of the MCU because of the actors’ strike — with Deadpool 3 being the only pic from the studio on the 2024 calendar, on July 26 — though an immediate curse for exhibition, is apt to be a blessing in the long run, as the studio concentrates on making better movies. Hopefully, absence will make fans’ hearts grow fonder.
How could you make a less-serious feature sequel to a $1.1 billion-grossing Wonder Woman movie that is, in effect, Marvel’s Wonder Woman: Captain Marvel? The latter movie is the highest-grossing female superhero movie of all-time, more than Wonder Woman ($823.9M WW). Yes, we all say to make superhero movies lighter and not darker. But in the case of The Marvels, it’s a 180-degree shift from the original movie’s heroic roots. The Marvels, instead, is some sort of time-jumping, silly comedy that fans weren’t asking for. It’s a swing that has greatly cost Marvel Studios the entire Captain Marvel franchise, relegating her now to a supporting character in the rest of the MCU.
But the whole actors strike of it all, right? Yes, that’s part of the problem here that has tied Disney’s hands from blasting this movie out more, and thespians’ being forbidden to promote struck work has diluted ticket sales greatly this autumn season.
But as one tracking source pushes back, “I can’t imagine that the complete absence of Brie Larson on The Marvels campaign tour has cost the sequel $106M in its opening from the first film. Surely, there’s something else going on.”
One studio insider has argued to Deadline that The Marvels drop here is attributed to the pic not being part of the sandwich between Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, the former pic having a coda that teed off to Captain Marvel. That might be true, but I can’t imagine that an epilogue alone is responsible for $1.1 billion in global grosses. Harry Styles’ coda didn’t help push grosses higher on the MCU’s previous November bomb Eternals, and I can’t imagine the tease at the end of The Marvels is going to provoke more want-to-see.
Other diagnostics on The Marvels: 65% male leaning, with 45% men over 25, 22% women over 25 (giving it the best grades at 82%), men under 25 at 20%, and women under 25 at 14%. Biggest demo was 25-34 at 33%. Diversity demos were 36% Caucasian, 27% Latino and Hispanic, 17% Black, and 14% Asian. The Marvels secured all of the PLF screens and IMAX, which rep 38% of the weekend’s take. Imax reports that $4.5M was made in their auditoriums. The Marvels will co-play with The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songsbirds and Snakes in some venues next weekend. The movie is playing best in the South, South Central, and West with the AMC Disney Springs the pic’s no. 1 venue, with close to $131K through Saturday night.
And as far as the whole Killers of the Flower Moon getting a pass at the box office B.S.: Wake up to the fact that Apple and Disney’s goals couldn’t be more separate. One is a tech business with a streaming service, and the other is a content-driven conglom that extends into travel lifestyle and merchandising. Two very different businesses. Film finance sources tell me that a $200M production cost on Killers of the Flower Moon is literally an advertising expense for Apple, and its P&L is different from the way that The Marvels would be assessed. At the end of the day, it’s not Apple’s goal to make money in the theatrical business. They don’t care about profit in TV and motion pictures. Disney’s goals and plans are similar to Max, Paramount+, Peacock, etc., and they’re beating the aforementioned.
However, all streaming services associated with the majors are still losing money. For Apple, theatrical is a bonus on Killers of the Flower Moon, and they didn’t make the movie for theatrical, rather, locking people into their ecosystem. This compared to the fact that Disney institutional shareholders demand short-term profitably from their OTT service and content.
A more severe question to ask — could Disney have opened a 3 1/2 hour older adult movie to $23M at the domestic box office during an actors strike? Could Disney have opened three-hour Oppenheimer about a WW II physicist to $82.4M right before an actors strike?
Movies like that are out of the Mouse House’s wheelhouse.
Sunday’s reported figures:
1.) The Marvels (Dis) 4,030 theaters, Fri $21.5M Sat $15.3M Sun $10.2M 3-day $47M/Wk 1
The Marvels scored the best opening for a movie by a Black female director, the title helmed by Nia DaCosta. This bests previous openings by female Black directors, i.e. Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle in Time ($33M) and DaCosta’s own Candyman ($22M).
2.) Five Nights at Freddy’s (Uni) 3,694 (-95) theaters, Fri $3M (-45%) Sat $3.8M Sun $2.1M 3-day $9M (-53%), Total $127.2M/Wk 3
3.) Taylor Swift: Eras Tour (AMC) 2,848 (-756) theaters, Fri $1.9M (-47%) Sat $2.3M Sun $1.7M 3-day $5.9M (-57%)/Total $172.5M/ Wk 5
4.) Priscilla (A24) 2,361 (+1002) theaters, Fri $1.6M (-18%) Sat $1.6M Sun $1.7M 3-day $4.8M (-4%), Total $12.7M/Wk 3
Behold A24 continues rebirth of the arthouse post pandemic with a -4% third weekend hold. Granted, the movie went wide on another 1,000 theaters, but it shows interest in this Sofia Coppola film. Industry outlook is $20M which will rep the director’s second highest at the box office after her Oscar winner Lost in Translation ($44.5M).
5.) Killers of the Flower Moon (Apple/Par) 3,357 (-429) theaters Fri $1.5M (-23%) Sat $1.89M Sun $1.26M 3-day $4.65M (-32%)/Total $59.9M/Wk 4
6.) The Holdovers (Foc) 778 (+714) theaters Fri $1.23M (+510%)/Sat $1.2M Sun $750K 3-day $3.2M (+463%), Total $4.27M/Wk 3
Decent numbers in the expansion of the Alexander Payne movie.
7.) Journey to Bethlehem (Sony) 2,002 theaters Fri $1M Sat $774K Sun $626K 3-day $2.42M /Wk 1
Despite an A- CinemaScore and 81% PostTrak, no faith-based audience member wanted to see a pop musical about The Nativity. Enough said about what works and doesn’t work at the box office. On another hand, the movie cost a net $6M before P&A. Turnout here is the faith-based female crowd at 64% with 53% of the audience between 45+ years old with the largest quad being 55+ years old at 37%. Diversity demos were 56% Caucasian, 20% Hispanic and Latino, 12% Black, & 11% Asian/other. Hightest grossing theater for the movie in the country, if we can call it that, was the AMC Thoroughbred in Tennesse with close to $7K through Saturday.
8.) Tiger 3 (Yash Raj) 750 theaters, Sat $1M Sunday $1.25M 3-day $2.25M (estimate here comes from Comscore)
9.) Paw Patrol 2 (Par) 1,779 (-625) theaters, Fri $545K (+29%) Sat $720K Sun $495K 3-day $1.76M (-13%) Total $64.5M/Wk 7
10.) Radical (Pant) 534 (+115) theaters, Fri $472K (-47%) Sat $655K Sun $625K 3-day $1.75M (-34%)/Total $5.2M/Wk 2
11.) Exorcist: The Believer (Uni) 1,587 (-842) theaters Fri $380K (-38%) Sat $500K Sun $270K 3-day $1.15M (-45%) Total $64.99M/Wk 6
Dream Scenario (A24) 6 theaters Fri $98,6K, Sat $66K Sun $50K PTA $35,9K 3-day $215,5K Wk 1
Pretty good numbers we’re told from AMC Century City, AMC Grove, AMC Burbank, and NYC the Angelika, AMC Lincoln Square and Alamo Brooklyn. The last theater there is the best of the pack with a $36,5K+ running cume so far on this Ari Aster produced, Kristofer Borgli directed, Nicolas Cage homage satire.
EXCLUSIVE, Friday afternoon update: The Marvels is shaping up to be the lowest domestic opening ever for a Disney Marvel Cinematic Universe title, with a 3-day swing of $47M-$55M. That’s lower than Marvel/Universal’s The Incredible Hulk ($55.4M in 2008) and lower than Ant-Man ($57.2M, 2015).
Wait a second — what about Howard the Duck, which debuted to $5M in 1986? We’re talking about all those movies steered and produced by Kevin Feige, largely while he was producing Paramount and Disney Marvel movies (Incredible Hulk being in the canon, with cameos by Iron Man’s Robert Downey Jr).
But more to the low openings for Marvel movies. There have been others outside Disney’s MCU, i.e. Sony/Marvel’s Morbius ($39M in 2022), 20th Century Fox’s 2015 Fantastic Four reboot ($25.6M), 1998’s Blade at $17M and Fox/Marvel’s Daredevil spinoff Elektra at $12.8M. Comparing The Marvels to those movies, it’s not the lowest ever for a feature Marvel adaptation.
Friday looks to be $21M-$22M, including previews, for the pic starring Brie Larson, Teyonah Parris and Iman Vellani. Hopefully, the last-minute stunting with stars back to work after the actors strike helps.
No. 2 belongs to third weekend of Universal/Blumhouse’s Peacock day-and-date title Five Nights at Freddy’s, which is at 3,691 theaters with $2.6M Friday and 3-day $7.8M, -59%, and $126M running total.
EXCLUSIVE, updated: Marvel Studios’ sequel, The Marvels, has clocked around $6.5M in Thursday night previews we hear from sources. Disney called the night at $6.6M for showtimes that began at 3PM yesterday.
The fear out there by many is that this $200M budgeted sequel to 2019’s Captain Marvel –which stands as the highest grossing female superhero movie of all-time–could clock the lowest start ever stateside for a Marvel Studios movie; lower than The Incredible Hulk (which was a Universal release before Disney absorbed the MCU) which had a $55.4M start. While tracking took its projections down from $80M to $60M for The Marvels, there is a concern out there that The Marvels could see a $40M+ start.
At $6.5M that’s one of the lower previews we’ve seen in recent times from Marvel, just one notch above Ant-Man ($6.4M, $57.2M) and lower than Disney November misfires The Eternals ($9.5M previews, $71.2M opening) and Thor: Dark World ($7.1M previews, $85.7M). The Incredible Hulk has the lowest previews of $2M for an MCU title in the preview era, but that’s when previews began at midnight.
Advance ticket sales of $5M indicated The Marvels was flying into The Flash‘s territory opening wise. However, The Flash‘s preview figure was higher at $9.7M off showtimes that began at 3PM Thursday.
Critical reviews on Rotten Tomatoes are at 61% fresh, but the RT audience score is higher at 85% — which is promising, however, the die-hards always come out on Thursday night. Thursday night PostTrak exits from ComScore/Screen Engine were severe for general audiences at 3.5 stars, but 4 1/2 stars from parents and 5 stars from kids under 12. That said, kids and parents combined only repped 9% of last night’s audience. The Marvels skewed guys at 63% with men over 25 the biggest turnout at 45% and women over 25 at 24%. That latter demo gave the best recommendation grades of any demo at 61%.
There’s a cacophony of reasons why The Marvels isn’t playing to better levels, one of them being the recently ended actors strike which stifled the pic’s promotion at San Diego and NY Comic-Cons. In the last two days since the strike ended, the pic’s cast is in a whirlwind to show up on late night TV (Brie Larson set to appear on The Tonight Show tonight) and also show up at movie-theaters; Iman Vellani and director Nia DaCosta doing so yesterday at Hollywood’s El Captain.
— Ms. Marvel⚡ (@msmarvel) November 10, 2023
Larson given the strike’s end can finally scream to the world that The Marvels are here:
Social media analytics firm RelishMix notices that chatter on “The Marvels is tracking mixed leaning toward discontent, while debating issues of superhero fatigue and comparing this title to Marvel titles over the last decade stating, ‘We all miss The Avengers.’ Added frustration comes from the need to watch several of the TV series to get up to speed on the movie.”
The social media universe per RelishMix for The Marvels across TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, X and YouTube views stands at 599M which is 14% under comps norms for superhero titles. Ugh.
Another movie set to crash this weekend is Sony/Affirm’s faith-based musical Journey to Bethlehem which earned $250K last night from previews that began at 2PM from 1,823 locations. The pic is set to arrive in the low single digits.
Elsewhere at the box office Universal/Blumhouse’s second Thursday of its Peacock day-and-date Five Nights Freddys did $1.1M yesterday, +15% from Wednesday, for a second week of $24M and running total of $118.2M at 3,789 theaters.
AMC’s Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour saw an estimated $767K and fourth week of $14.3M for a running total of $166.8M at 3,604.
Paramount’s Killers of the Flower Moon posted an estimated $650K, -8%, for a third week of $9.95M and running total of $55.2M at 3,786 theaters.
A24’s Priscilla at 1,359 saw a second Thursday of $627K, +8%, second week of $7.5M and running total of $7.8M.
Angel Studios’ After Death booked at 2,730 theaters saw a $200K Thursday, -20%, and $3.08M second week for a $10M running total.
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