Captain Marvel isn’t going higher, further, and faster at the box office.
The Marvels, the joint sequel to Captain Marvel, WandaVision, and Ms. Marvel, featuring heroes from all three films and shows, struggled to find a large audience in theaters over the weekend. The film grossed an estimated $47 million from Friday to Sunday — and that is bad enough to make it the single worst opening weekend in the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The previous franchise worst for the MCU was 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, which grossed $55 million in its first three days in theaters — and certainly cost far less to produce than The Marvels.
Worldwide, it is estimated that The Marvels grossed roughly $110 million over the weekend, which is also amongst the very worst (worldwide) opening weekends in all of Marvel. From a financial perspective, the news is simply not good.
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From a creative perspective, the news isn’t that much better. The Marvels got a “B” from CinemaScore, which is also not a strong showing. (For point of comparison, Eternals got a B. The Incredible Hulk got an A-.) On Rotten Tomatoes, The Marvels has a 62 percent — good enough to qualify as “fresh” (and not to qualify as the worst MCU movie) but not by much. In our own review of the movie here at ScreenCrush we wrote:
I would not call The Marvels the worst film Marvel has made. But it is definitely the messiest and the sweatiest. It hardly lets up for 100 frenzied yet weirdly unexciting minutes, as if everyone onscreen is worried if they pause for even a moment’s rest everything around them will unravel into nothingness like the Sacred Timeline on Loki.
So what went wrong? Well, the just-ended writers’ strike, and the inability for the movie’s many stars to promote the film until the very last minute, surely did not help. Ditto the mixed and lukewarm reviews. But the larger issue could be Marvel itself, which has cranked out a lot of product on both film and television in the last few years, and more and more of it not up to what had been a fairly high and consistent standard. I’ve spoken to people who liked The Marvels, but I haven’t really met a ton of people who feel particularly passionate about it — their positive reviews, at best, are that it is a pleasant 100 minutes at the cinema. Compare that with the intensity of the reaciton to something like Avengers: Endgame, or even the first Captain Marvel, which grossed $1.1 billion worldwide.
Sure, Marvel’s last movie (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 was great) but before that was the so-so Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, along with the very disappointing Secret Invasion TV show. Fans had become so loyal to Marvel that they would show up to anything with their name on it. It seems like they have now been burned by that strategy so many times that they are becoming a bit more selective. Nevertheless, The Marvels is still in theaters now.
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