“The Marvels,” the 33rd installment in Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe, is barreling toward an unfortunate box office distinction.
The big-budget superhero sequel is expected to generate just $60 million to $65 million from 4,000 North American theaters in its opening weekend, which would be one of the lowest debuts in MCU history. That ignominious badge currently belongs to 2008’s “The Incredible Hulk” ($55.4 million), followed by 2015’s “Ant-Man” ($57.2 million), not adjusted for inflation. The standalone “Hulk” movie was a rare misfire for Marvel, generating just $264.8 million worldwide, but “Ant-Man” eventually grossed enough ($519 million globally) to merit a trilogy.
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Based on current projections, “The Marvels” will also brutally drop from its predecessor, 2019’s “Captain Marvel,” which first introduced Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers and launched to a heroic $153 million. That movie had extra momentum because of its prime release date between two of the biggest movies of all time, 2018’s “Avengers: Infinity War” and 2019’s “Avengers: Endgame,” and it became one of seven Disney films that year to cross the $1 billion mark globally. With these estimates, the follow-up film will be lucky to gross half of that amount in its box office run.
“The Marvels” could make up ground at the international box office, where it’s projected to collect $80 million for a worldwide start of $140 million or more. But these comic book tentpoles don’t come cheap; this MCU entry cost $220 million to produce and roughly $100 million to promote the film to audiences across the globe.
Disney dropped a new trailer this week to combat the bad buzz around “The Marvels” and play up its connection to the Avengers, with appearances from Iron Man, Captain America, Valkyrie and Thanos. However, most of the studio’s marketing has positioned “The Marvels” as a standalone adventure in the interconnected Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Nia DaCosta (“Candyman”) directed “The Marvels,” making the 33-year-old the youngest filmmaker and first Black woman to helm a Marvel movie. The action-adventure spotlights a trio of Spandexed heroes (Larson as Captain Marvel, Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau and Iman Vellani as Ms. Marvel) who are tasked with saving the universe from forces that seek to destroy it.
“The Marvels” has not been embraced by critics (it holds a 52% 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. Variety’s chief film critic Owen Gleiberman criticized the film as “skittery and episodic,” going on to say it feels like “a sequel mired in entropy.”
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