The Marvels' Debut at $47M: A New Low for Marvel Studios

Superhero saga stumbles with subdued box office showing.

by Nouman Rasool
The Marvels' Debut at $47M: A New Low for Marvel Studios
© Marvel Entertainment/YouTube

In a surprising turn for the superhero genre, "The Marvels," produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Disney, encountered a less-than-super opening weekend. The anticipated blockbuster commenced its box office journey with a modest $47 million domestically, starkly contrasting the soaring debuts typically associated with the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

Considering the film's substantial $200 million production budget, this opening is particularly underwhelming. Internationally, "The Marvels" did not fare much better, garnering $63.3 million from 51 major markets, leading to a global cumulative of $110.3 million.

Such figures spark concerns over the possibility of 'superhero fatigue,' with audiences becoming discerning due to an oversaturation of superhero content. Despite Marvel Studios' prior dominance, including an impressive total gross of over $30 billion from its cinematic outings, "The Marvels" lags, with critics and audiences offering tepid responses.

This is evidenced by its B CinemaScore and a lukewarm 62 percent Rotten Tomatoes critics' score. The audience's demographics leaned heavily male, with 61 percent of viewers and nearly half of the earnings attributed to premium formats like Imax.

"The Marvels" serves as the 33rd entry in the MCU and is a direct follow-up to "Captain Marvel," which enjoyed a robust $153.4 million North American opening back in 2019 and went on to gross $1.13 billion globally. The success of "Captain Marvel" was partly propelled by its strategic placement among the "Avengers" films.

In stark comparison, the record for the lowest MCU domestic debut was held by "The Incredible Hulk" in 2008, with $55.4 million. Starring Brie Larson, who reprises her role as the eponymous hero, "The Marvels" introduces audiences to Iman Vellani and Teyonah Parris, who bring newer iterations of beloved characters to life.

Despite the star power and the inclusion of emerging talent, promotion for the film suffered due to the SAG-AFTRA strike, limiting publicity efforts until a resolution was found just as the film hit theaters. Meanwhile, in other box office news, Universal and Blumhouse's horror entry "Five Nights at Freddy's" maintained a solid second place.

At the same time, the live recording of Taylor Swift's "Eras Tour" and new entries from acclaimed directors like Martin Scorsese and Sofia Coppola also made notable splashes in their respective niches. "The Marvels" attempts to break the mold with its trio of female leads and a history-making turn by director Nia DaCosta as the first Black woman and youngest director to helm an MCU project.

Despite these milestones, the film's sluggish start at the box office is an unusual narrative for Marvel Studios, which has long been accustomed to chart-topping successes. As the film industry heads into the awards season with other high-profile releases gaining momentum, it remains to be seen whether "The Marvels" can recover from its initial stumble to achieve the heights of its predecessors.