The Marvel Cinematic Universe has suffered another blow with the opening weekend of “The Marvels,” which earned just $47 million from 4,030 theaters to set a new record for the worst launch in the history of the 15-year superhero franchise.
With $110 million grossed worldwide, “The Marvels” may not even be able to reach that mark, as audiences have given the film a B on CinemaScore and 3.5/5 from general audiences on PostTrak. That’s the same grade earned by “The Flash” and marks the fifth time in the last eight theatrical releases that an MCU film has failed to earn an A- or higher in the audience poll.
This poor start can certainly be attributed in part to the recently ended SAG-AFTRA strike, which kept “The Marvels” stars Brie Larson, Teyonnah Parris and Iman Vellani away from the promotional circuit until the day the film was released in Thursday previews.
Larson did make an appearance on “The Tonight Show” on Friday to promote the film following the strike ending Wednesday night. She also made surprise appearances at preview screenings with Vellani, but it could never make up for the full promotional tour with Comic-Con appearances that they would have had in a non-strike timeline.
But beyond the strike, it’s also true that the streak of tepidly received films and streaming shows that Marvel Studios has released going back to “Eternals” and “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” have damaged the once bulletproof goodwill that fans had towards the MCU.
Marvel has had some undisputed success this year with “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” winning over fans and earning $845.5 million at the global box office, but the struggles of “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” ($476 million worldwide) and the poor reception of Disney+’s “Secret Invasion” are among the other hits the franchise has recently suffered, making it less likely that audiences will go and see future installments unless there’s strong word-of-mouth.
It’s difficult to say where Marvel Studios will go from here, as it will be nearly eight months before it brings a new film to theaters due to strike-related production delays. With “Deadpool 3” moving to July 2024, next year will mark the first time since 2006 that a film based on Marvel comics won’t be released in theaters during the first weekend of May.