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The Marvels flies lower, nearer, and slower at the box office with underwhelming opening weekend

The Marvel machine is running out of gas.

The Marvels
Image credit: Marvel Studios

With the MCU-lowest opening weekend at the US box office, The Marvels has confirmed the signs of Marvel fatigue many fans and Hollywood analysts have been fearing for a while now.

Marvel Studios' 2023 journey was off to weak start when Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania didn't cross the $500 million mark at the global box office. Mind you, this would've been a decent win for many blockbusters, but with a $200 million production budget plus all the marketing expenses, the Kang-centric threequel didn't break even. Much more positive were the results that came from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3's stroll through the early summer box office, which brought in $854 million worldwide. The very positive reviews definitely helped the second theatrical Phase 5 entry, but audiences have also long considered the James Gunn-created Marvel sub-franchise stands on its own, so all the recent Marvel drama and quality woes barely affected its box office performance.

Now, The Marvels' first weekend flying into the unknown hasn't gone very well, and it looks like its final numbers will be well below even Quantumania's. It fell short of expectations at the international box office "with $63.3 million from 51 territories for a worldwide start of $110 million," according to Variety. This is below Disney's most pessimistic hopes and spells trouble for a blockbuster release that cost around $220 million to produce and $100 million to promote all over the globe. Domestically, it earned the absolute top spot... as the Marvel Cinematic Universe's worst opening weekend ever, earning $46.1 million, which puts it roughly $10 million below The Incredible Hulk's $55.4 million haul during its 2008 debut.

As a direct result, fans and film pundits are now pointing fingers at each other and the currently unpredictable trends among casual moviegoers to try to figure out what's next for Marvel Studios on the theatrical side of things. Right now, it seems like Deadpool 3 will be the only 2024 release from Disney's once-biggest moneymaker, as the strikes and internal turmoil have pushed Captain America: Brave New World and other projects back into 2025. Whether the MCU's big 2025 return manages to recapture the lost magic (and attention) remains to be seen, but as the packed slate approaches the two big Avengers movies that will close the uneven Multiverse Saga, only more pressure is being put on Kevin Feige and his crews' shoulders.

Meanwhile, on the streaming side, the Loki season 2 finale was a spectacular conclusion that reminded us of the greatness the MCU is capable of achieving when things flow smoothly and there's a commitment to a single creative vision.


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