The headlines surrounding The Marvels are surprisingly harsher than you’d expect from a tentpole summer release like The Flash. DC’s general struggle this summer has led to some mixed feelings on what the future has in store for the superhero genre yet other releases seem to hint that the genre isn’t fully out. At the same time, there are enough examples throughout the entire summer that blockbuster fatigue is a bigger issue looming over cinemas going into a strike-affected 2024.
The current projection for The Marvels have been a bit all over the place. Box Office Pro has a more subdued $50M with a high point of $70M. Its pre-sales trackings are quite a bit behind other Marvel tentpoles, especially 2023 releases. It also simply be a showcase that the frontloading era these films have enjoyed fizzled out early on, as even Elemental proves there are still some legs for Disney releases.
Projections by The Hollywood Reporter are a bit more positive with a potential high of $80M for the Marvel Studios release, which may be quite a bit behind the initial Captain Marvel with its $153.4M. Three female leads are a big selling point of the project, especially after the success of Barbie a few months back It also grew from its initial $70M prediction but word-of-mouth is going to be the deciding factor here. However, the fact that its leads can’t actually promote the film is likely a huge factor.
What also seems to be easily forgotten is that Captain Marvel enjoyed the build-up towards Avengers: Endgame and her potentially major role in that franchise “ender” as some claim it was. So, we might be seeing what the film originally might have opened to plus the name-change could also be a factor that people aren’t seeing it necessarily as a sequel even if trailers try to highlight that aspect (to be fair, barely any MCU entry acts like a true sequel but rather just an additional chapter for a specific character).
Is it the end of Marvel Studios? Who knows at this point, but they are still holding on better than DC is with a questionable reboot. What everyone believed was the “biggest flop” of the year with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania turned out to be a high bar barely any major release would reach. Even after the summer blockbuster, the film remains the eight highest-grosser of the year domestically.
The Super Mario Bros. Movie and Barbie were the exceptions rather than the rule this summer which saw major franchises like The Flash, Dungeons & Dragons, Shazam, Transformers, Indiana Jones, Blue Beetle, and even Mission Impossible fizzle out with huge post-COVID budgets. Exhibitors should be more scared that going to the movies is becoming a rarer occurrence and relying on two or three tentpoles per year is not going to keep the box office afloat long-term; even if some are hailing the end of superhero movies and its fatigue discussions.