Oh how the mighty have fallen…and continue to fall.
Marvel movies in general have taken a hit this year compared to the previous decade in which they ruled the world. Merely attaching “Marvel” to a movie was worth a truckload of money. In that decade, Marvel had the highest grossing movie an incredulous five different years. The 2010s also brought us a whopping nine Marvel films that grossed at least $1.1 billion. Since 2019, only one film crossed that threshold.
In 2018, Marvel had 18% of the domestic box office under their belt. By 2021, in the midst of the COVID pandemic, 30% of every dollar spent at the USA box office went to Marvel.
In that year, Marvel was still cranking out big financial hits, but the cracks were beginning to show. Three lackluster films failed to recapture the movie-going audience. “Black Widow”, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”, and “Eternals” came out in four months. Those movies combined failed to hit the box office mark that “Black Panther” hit by itself in 2018. The real stunner? None of those three movies broke even thanks to large production and marketing budgets.
That brings us to 2023, which has seen another dip with the third “Ant-Man” movie barely breaking even (before marketing) and “The Marvels” sending a large number of warning bells across the Internet. The budget for this film is, allegedly, nearly $275 million. If true, this would make it the most expensive (non-Avengers) movie the MCU has ever made (The original “Iron Man” comes close, when adjusted for inflation).
News came from a known forecasting website that “The Marvels” pre-ticket sales are currently 69 percent behind the pace of “Guardians Vol. 3”, 72 percent behind “Quantumania”, and 42 percent behind “Eternals”. It is primed for a maximum of $189 million for its domestic total. That would put it below the worst domestic-performing MCU movie, “The Incredible Hulk”, even when adjusted for inflation. That’s the BEST case scenario for a movie featuring a trio of female leads from the big screen and Disney Plus. Where did this death spiral of such an incredible franchise come from?
Movies Are Too Expensive
When “The Avengers” shattered expectations in 2012, the average ticket price was $8.12. Now we’re staring at $10.53 and that’s before you pay a “convenience fee” if you buy online. If my wife and I want to take our little guy to see the new “Paw Patrol” movie, we have to cough up almost $40, including the added fee. Of course he’ll want some popcorn, I wouldn’t mind a drink, and my wife adores skittles. Cha-ching!
We’re Officially Done With The “Movie-Going Experience”
Box office totals dropped 81%, from $11.3 billion in 2019 to $2.1 billion in 2020. The COVID pandemic didn’t spare Hollywood at all and they scrambled to replace empty theaters with full living rooms by adding streaming services galore. Now why would we leave the couch to go back to the theater? We have the ability to pause a movie to use the restroom, not worry about parking, make popcorn instead of paying WAY too much for it, and not deal with crowds staring at their brightly lit phones or running through the aisles.
Kat Holler said: “Most theaters are not providing a great Movie going experience. People have busy lives, and the thought of going to a movie theater where people are probably going to be loud, kicking my seat and using their cell phones loudly just doesn’t appeal to people the same way.”
John Rozmiarek agreed, adding: “I think we got use to seeing movies at home.”
The Fans Aren’t Getting the Stories They Want
I’m just going to get out of the way and let the fans talk about what the fans want.
Lance Meredith says: “There are so many more stories that could have been told with the original six plus say Vision, Black Panther, and Scarlet Witch thrown in. People want the characters they know and love, not more peripheral characters. It’s like like taking red, blue, and yellow crayons out of a box of 8 and trying to create a full colour [sic] drawing with what remains.”
John Ambrose added: “In the five years since Disney got the rights back for Fantastic 4 and X-Men, we are not even in the preproduction phase for either property. I am willing to bet that only 25-30% of Marvel fans care about Agatha. If you ran a poll, how many people would want a Moon Knight Series more than they would want an X-Men movie?”
To be fair, that last comment could be attributed to the DCEU as well. Who really gets pumped up for a Blue Beetle movie when they haven’t developed a Green Lantern, Cyborg, or Zatanna movie?
Here’s My Take
Strap in folks, here comes my reasoning behind this madness. No, it isn’t the patriarchy or backlash from the basement-dwelling nerds. It’s just too much, too fast. Just this year, we’re bombarded with three Marvel movies and three series on Disney Plus (Assuming “Echo” is still coming in November. I’m not convinced either way.). This comes on the heels of 2022 which saw Marvel crank out another SEVEN bits of content.
From 2008 to the end of 2015 we had 12 movies come out. That was when Marvel movies were truly events that fans could drool over in anticipation. From 2015 to this coming November, we will have 20 movies released, an increase of 40%. This doesn’t count the insane amount of content on Disney Plus that has come out just since this decade started.
A similar problem cropped up with the “Ahsoka”. If you didn’t watch “The Clone Wars” and “Rebels” then you might feel a bit lost about who was who, what was going on, and why two major characters were in a different galaxy. Samuel L. Jackson stated that you need to watch WandaVision, Ms. Marvel, and Secret Invasion to follow the events of the latest MCU offering.
I’m supposed to sit back and watch 21 episodes spread across three series involving characters I’m not thrilled about to begin with…just to know what’s going on in one movie? My answer to that is right here.
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