During the past week, Marvel concluded its pandemic era of chaos by releasing the final two remnants of that era.
Meanwhile, Kevin Feige and Bob Iger plotted the future of Marvel, which frankly needs some work.
We’ve got a comically large number of important topics in this week’s MarvelBlog News.
The Marvels Disappoints
Earlier this year, Pixar released Elemental in theaters, and critics immediately slammed the film’s opening weekend performance.
Elemental earned less than $30 million, a rarity for modern Pixar titles.
Then, during Disney’s earnings call this week, one gloating infographic noted that Elemental had earned nearly $500 million worldwide.
Nobody wants to admit the fact, but the box office has worked differently since the pandemic.
Films typically open lower but run longer than they had from 2010-2019.
Keeping that in mind, I’m not ready to write off The Marvels as a box office bomb, but it’s definitely a disappointment.
Frankly, Marvel accidentally set this movie up to fail in three different ways.
First, the de facto lead-in wasn’t Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, which would have been wise.
Instead, the most lingering memory for fans is Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, which even Marvel fans would acknowledge wasn’t great.
In Hollywood, a brand can typically survive one disastrous project if it’s followed by something good soon afterward. That’s GotG3.
Sadly, Marvel kept releasing titles after that, which brings us to the second disaster, Secret Invasion.
As an evaluator, I tried to give this title, which I personally disliked, the benefit of the doubt.
Having now watched Secret Invasion struggle with its streaming ratings, I can accurately describe it as a bust. So, that’s two bombs in the same year.
The Marvels functions as a de facto sequel to both, especially Secret Invasion, which ended with Nick Fury heading to space.
Let’s Talk Hard Numbers and Realistic Expectations
Finally, even if The Marvels were an incredible movie, which it sadly isn’t, it would have struggled due to the SAG-AFTRA strike.
Over the past five months, we’ve learned the value of stars promoting their films. It matters.
Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t promote the film, which reduced its buzz.
Over the past two months, I’ve watched with dismay as tracking for the film seemingly dropped with every new survey.
Not that long ago, Marvel was fretting that The Marvels might not open to $70 million. Today, they’d be thrilled even to approach that number.
After earning $6.6 million on Thursday, the opening weekend story of The Marvels seemed clear.
Sure enough, the latest Marvel movie disappointed at the box office with a domestic opening weekend of $47 million and a global take of $110 million.
Those are NOT Marvel-worthy numbers, and I’m going back to the days of Ed Norton in The Incredible Hulk when I say that.
We cannot sugarcoat this number, nor should we. The Marvels cost $275 million to produce, right at $220 million after tax credits.
To turn a profit, The Marvels would need at least $440 million and probably closer to $550 million. It’s tough to find a path to that kind of performance.
Yes, films have longer legs today, but the underlying metrics of The Marvels aren’t on par with what Elemental managed.
Currently, The Marvels holds a Rotten Tomatoes grade of 63 percent, which is better than it had been on Thursday. It started at 53 percent.
Once again, that early story triggered another wave of negative headlines, a perennial problem for Marvel over the past two years.
We’ll track this story more next week, but nothing about this qualifies as good news.
Marvel Pulls a Release Schedule Surprise
Kevin Feige is a brilliant man, as is his boss, Disney CEO Bob Iger.
The two of them recognize that Marvel has reached a crossroads. Something’s gotta give.
Ordinarily, the biggest story of the week would have been the end of the SAG-AFTRA strike, but it’s only #3 for Marvel since Loki also had its season finale.
Still, with the strike over, Feige and Iger could finally plot a course for the next wave of Marvel content.
As part of the process, Marvel confirmed that Blade is not only happening but will include an R rating.
That’s a polite way of telling potential viewers that it’ll be dark, akin to the Venom and Deadpool franchises.
On paper, Blade still looks like a disaster, so I’m not holding my breath that it’s anything other than another doomed project.
For a time, Marvel executives acted as if such a thing were impossible, dutifully ignoring Thor: The Dark World.
In the wake of recent events, everyone’s accepted that Marvel may no longer be invited to the cool kids’ table, though.
So, Marvel just made a challenging and frankly surprising choice. Since the studio needs a hit, it’s going with what it considers a sure thing in 2024.
Deadpool 3 has pushed back its release date…but not by much. Instead, we’ll get the film on July 26th, 2024.
If that date sounds familiar, it should. That had been the date for Captain America: Brave New World.
Marvel Shuffles the Board
A couple of weeks ago, I’d suggested that Disney would advance the date of that film to May 2023. And I’m a total idiot.
Apparently, Marvel has honestly evaluated the next Captain America movie and decided it’s not at the level they need.
Again, Marvel CANNOT have setbacks. Echo is likely to disappoint everybody in two months, too. That’s the last straw and the breaking point.
So, Disney will reshoot parts of Captain America: Brave New World to strengthen its quality.
Let me be clear. This film must be on par with Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War. That’s a BIG ask.
Marvel knows that and will probably put its thumb on the scale by adding more recognizable characters.
In fact, I no longer rule out the possibility of Chris Evans appearing in this film…and I don’t mean in flashbacks.
Marvel needs to stack the deck as much as possible on everything because the story now is that the studio has lost its way.
Headline writers are aching to praise DC if James Gunn’s Superman movie is any good at all. This is DEFCON 1 now.
Brave New World will now debut on February 14th, 2025, followed by Thunderbolts on July 25th, 2025, and (allegedly) Blade on November 7th, 2025.
I’ll level with you. At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if Disney bailed completely on Blade.
The first week of November is typically one of the best weekends for box office during the entire year. We just saw how little that helped The Marvels.
If Blade’s script isn’t working, it’s time to admit failure and move on. But Marvel understands this point.
So, if they are committing, the new Blade treatment must be pretty good.
By now, I’m assuming you’ve watched the season finale of Loki. If you haven’t, you should drop everything and catch up.
There’s a good news/bad news element to season two. The good news is that this season was incredible, but the bad news is that it seems to end with finality.
Early reports suggest that Marvel has no plans for a season three. Anything can change in this regard, but if you’ve watched the finale, you probably believe the same.
The two seasons seem like a matched pair, and a third story would mess up what’s pretty much a perfect ending.
Circling back to Deadpool 3, nobody’s waiting long. Variety reports that filming will restart after Thanksgiving. That’s like two weeks from now!
Finally, Marvel has chosen to release What If…? season two in late December. Yes, I mean next month! So, we’ll get more new Marvel soon.
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