Marvel Studios is not reacting well, at all, to having its first real box office bomb in 15 years. After years of unprecedented success, including four of the 10 highest-grossing films of all time, the studio’s latest release, The Marvels, is on the opposite end of the spectrum. After about a month in release, the film has begun to taper off its box office run and will be, by far, the lowest-grossing movie in the entire franchise, failing to crack $100 million domestically and only flirting with $200 million worldwide.
One bomb in 30 or so is, obviously, pretty damned incredible, but you wouldn’t know it from how Marvel and Disney are handling it. The most recent example happened this weekend when the studio released the following statement, reported by Variety: “With The Marvels box office now winding down, we will stop weekend reporting of international/global grosses on this title.”
The film failed to crack the top 10 this weekend, coming in at number 11, but its $2.5 million is more than a huge percentage of other films in release, all of which will continue to report their numbers. To say you’re going to stop reporting numbers, especially with the holiday season in full swing and the film being the only Marvel movie out, seems particularly odd and purposefully spiteful. (Because you’re wondering though, the film will remain in theaters. Disney just won’t be reporting the numbers.)
This then comes after the CEO of Disney, Bob Iger, blamed there not being enough executives on set for the failure of the film (which, oh my god, hilarious right?), as well as several stories blaming director Nia DaCosta in various ways. Read about all of that at this link.
None of this, however, looks at several other factors. The simplest one is that it was released in the middle of the actors’ strike, so actors were unable to promote it. That may not seem like a huge deal but having Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, and others appearing on things Good Morning America and The Tonight Show hits a lot of random eyeballs. In addition. audiences simply may not have known this was a sequel to the billion-dollar-grossing Captain Marvel. Early marketing focused on the film being a three-hander between Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel, and Monica Rambeau. But unless audiences watched WandaVision and Ms. Marvel on Disney+, that may not have been the slam dunk Disney and Marvel thought it was. In fact, it may have made the film seem more like a television event than a theatrical blockbuster.
That issue was put on full display about a month before release when the marketing pivoted to focusing almost solely on Captain Marvel, going so far as to include footage from her scenes in Avengers: Endgame. Then, in maybe the most shocking occurrence, Marvel spoiled a cameo by Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie in a pre-release trailer. That type of thing has never happened before and, from an outside perspective, felt like a marketing hail mary, similar to how Warner Bros. put Superman in Black Adam commercials. Studios almost always know if a movie is going to be a hit or not and Disney certainly knew The Marvels was fighting an uphill battle.
But lean into that! Get it out on streaming! Promote the fact that while most people didn’t see the film, the majority that did liked it! None of that is happening though, at least not at the moment. Surely The Marvels will make it to Disney+ soon and, as the Marvel Cinematic Universe moves on, the events in the film will become increasingly important (um, that end credit scene!)—but, for now, Disney has thrown in the towel on The Marvels. And it’s a shame.
Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who.