The Marvels Officially Ends Run As Lowest-Earning MCU Movie

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

The writing was on the wall early on that The Marvels was not going to be nearly as successful as the earlier Captain Marvel movie. After all, the actor’s strike kept the stars from really promoting the film, and the Disney+ lead-in series Secret Invasion was a complete bomb with audiences.

However, unless they had Doctor Strange’s Eye of Agamotto, nobody could have predicted the movie would be this bad: according to Variety, The Marvels is the lowest-earning MCU movie of all time.

The Marvels Is The Lowest-Earning MCU Film

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In case you were wondering, Disney doesn’t want fans to know just how bad the box office is ultimately going to be. Even though The Marvels is still in theaters, Disney is going to stop reporting on the weekend box office for the film, both domestically and internationally. Obviously, this is a bad sign, and the House of Mouse clearly doesn’t anticipate this particular tentpole title earning much additional cash over the holidays.

Crunching The Numbers

Back when Disney was actively reporting earnings for The Marvels, though, things looked very grim. The movie managed to earn $80 million throughout North America and $197 million globally, and for a smaller film, those numbers would add up to a resounding success. However, considering The Marvels had a budget of over $220 million and that movies typically need to earn twice their budget to make any real profit, these numbers are very bad indeed.

Things Only Worsened During The Marvel’s Second Week At The Box Office

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Unfortunately, this isn’t even the first time The Marvels made MCU history in the worst possible way. It earned only $46 million when it premiered, instantly cementing the film as the worst Marvel Cinematic Universe debut. Adding insult to injury, there was a 78 percent drop in box office by the second weekend, and that was the biggest second-weekend drop in the history of this once-successful cinematic universe.

The Audience Skewed Male

Considering that Captain Marvel was infamously review-bombed and that the film went on to earn over a billion dollars, an early narrative emerged that The Marvels was just getting trash-talked by angry men online, causing bad word of mouth and subpar box office.

However, Deadline reports that 65 percent of the audience was men. Interestingly, Deadline also reports the earlier film Captain Marvel had a 61 percent male audience in general. The percentages are obviously close, but this lends credence to the observation that it was actually female audiences that seemed to stay home rather than see this distinctly feminist girl power sequel.

A Casualty Of Superhero Fatigue?

However, we doubt that the poor performance of The Marvels has anything to do with online culture wars or whether or not fans love Brie Larson. As everyone from James Gunn to Bob Iger has noted, superhero fatigue is real, and fans won’t just show up in droves for any Marvel movie the way they did in the lead-up to Avengers: Endgame. In fact, Iger himself noted that Disney must “get more realistic” and stop expecting each Marvel movie to earn “a billion dollars in global box office.”

Big Changes On The Way?

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Going forward, it will be interesting to see how Disney learns from the box office failure of The Marvels. We may very well be on the cusp of smaller, more character-driven films that don’t try to replicate the success of billion-dollar films like Captain Marvel. Ironically, that means the MCU may not be culturally relevant again until its creators stop expecting each movie to go higher, further, and faster than the ones before it.