Marvel is the big fish in the pond and for the first time in a long time, they had a project not quite reach the heights they usually do. While Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania didn’t crack the $500M, it was more a warning of what was to come throughout the summer box office with one bomb after another that barely crack the $300M ceiling. Outside of a few exceptions, including Guardians fo the Galaxy Vol. 3, it has been rough all around.
That still didn’t stop people from calling it the end of Marvel Studios and the Marvel Cinematic Universe; a common complaint throughout the Internet’s long history with the franchise. Still, Disney CEO Bob Iger is seemingly aware that their own ambitions became a focus point of general audience drag. He ends up discussing the performance of some recent releases, but generalizes the topic of how their streaming ventures hurt their theatrical output.
There have been some disappointments. We would have liked some of our more recent releases to perform better. It’s reflective not as a problem from a personnel perspective, but I think in our zeal to basically grow our content significantly to serve mostly our streaming offerings, we ended up taxing our people way beyond — in terms of their time and their focus — way beyond where they had been.Bob Iger
He ends up highlighting Marvel as an example by downplaying previous TV ventures and stating that audiences’ “focus and attention” was diluted. While the internet would make that seem true, there’s a big batch of people out there that generally don’t keep up even when there were just two or three films a year. Plus, there was the whole pandemic that changed many viewers’ behaviors and strongly showed its fangs this summer at the box office. The sudden increase in output to appears the Chapek era of “all-in streaming” strategy still played a role in this multi-faceted world.
Marvel’s a great example of that. They had not been in the TV business at any significant level. Not only did they increase their movie output, but they ended up making a number of television series, and frankly, it diluted focus and attention. That is, I think, more of the cause than anything.Bob Iger
One thing concerning this comment is claiming that Marvel has “not been in the TV business at any significant level,” which means Iger is mainly referencing Marvel Studios as an entity or generally forgetting the past few years. Their Disney+ output is far removed from the weekly releases of a 22-episode season that was Agents of SHIELD. The various Netflix series set the standard for many’s expectations of the current shows.
That is also ignoring Hulu’s Runaways which ran for two seasons, the non-Disney productions like Legion and The Gifted. We also can’t forget Cloak & Dagger which ran on Freeform and we haven’t even touched upon any of the animated series or whatever Inhumans wanted to be. There was more output from Marvel at one point, and seems like an oversimplification of a post-COVID media world.
At the end of the day, if a film is good but not worth a rewatch in theaters: why watch it in theaters? Their strategy to release films within 45 days created a new habit for viewers and ended up dragging their box office successes more than diluting viewers’ attention. Similar to how they milked their other golden goose on the streaming service and ended up hurting Pixar’s box office success long-term. It’s never that simple.