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The Box Office Report: Yes, ‘The Marvels’ had the worst opening weekend in MCU history
It’s hard to promote a movie when its stars aren’t allowed to do the promoting.
Hello! Welcome to The Box Office Report for the weekend of Nov. 10-12, 2023.
1. The Marvels
Weekend gross: $47M
Total domestic gross: $47M
Last weekend: New release
Percent drop: NA
Let’s get the headline out of the way: The Marvels opened $47 million in North America, the worst debut in Marvel Cinematic Universe history. Worse than The Incredible Hulk ($55.4 million in 2008). Worse than Ant-Man ($55.4 million in 2008). And way worse than Captain Marvel ($153.4 million in 2019).
Now that all of that is out of the way, let’s dive in a bit more on what possibly led to The Marvels’ $47 million opening weekend.
It’s impossible to report on any of this box office news without recognizing that SAG-AFTRA had been on a 118-day strike that only ended this past Thursday. Marvel Studios wasted little time getting like Brie Larson, Iman Vellani and Teyonah Parris in front of audiences and on TV with The Tonight Show, but The Marvels never had a shot at a true promotional tour.
I’ve seen some outlets point out that the SAG-AFTRA strike wasn’t a curse for all movies. Sure, Five Nights at Freddy’s opened with $80 million just two weekends ago, but that one seems to be the exception. The months between Barbie and Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour were dotted with mediocre debuts from movies like Gran Turismo and The Nun II. Warner Bros. chose to shift Dune: Part Two into next year to avoid having to release a tentpole film without having its cast available for press.
We also can’t talk about The Marvels without addressing the fact that a very vocal part of the MCU fandom can’t stand it that Larson is part of that universe, much less that she’s in a movie where the three leads are all women (and the movie itself was directed by a woman, Nia DaCosta). Some of these “fans” won’t be happy until the MCU returns to the era where every movie is led by a guy named Chris. This sexism is even baked into how some outlets have covered The Marvels’ box office troubles.
“Keep what’s meant for the cinema in cinemas, and keep what’s meant for in-homes in the home,” Deadline wrote over the weekend. “Meaning, this whole crossover streaming-into-film master plan isn’t working, nor is it really connected in a jaw-dropping way, and with Ms. Marvel not being one of the OTT services better series (ala WandaVision and Loki Season One), there’s a whole quad of fans who either didn’t catch Ms. Marvel, or who were too turned off by it that they sure as heck don’t want to see The Marvels.”
It’s wild how some people are furious that not only does Ms. Marvel exist but she then got to be part of a major MCU movie instead of being relegated to Disney+.
Honestly, I think we’re seeing a bit of a course correction for these movies, both in terms of reviews and box office receipts. Look at what happened to Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Its $106.1 million opening weekend quickly turned into a $32 million second weekend (a 70 percent drop!) once word got out that the movie stunk. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 — a film that people knew was the conclusion to a trilogy — debuted at $118.4 million a few months later, almost $30 million less than Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 opened with six years before.
Marvel Studios now has until next July when Deadpool 3 opens to recalibrate how it promotes the next installment of the MCU. I have a hunch that we’ll see the MCU bounce back at the box office with that one.
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2. Five Nights at Freddy’s
Weekend gross: $9M
Total domestic gross: $127.2M
Last weekend: 1st
Percent drop: 53
Oh yeah, there were other movies this weekend. The drops for Five Nights at Freddy’s have been impressive. After an $80 million first weekend, it fell 76 percent for $19 million last weekend before falling 53 percent for just $9 million this weekend. A movie that debuts with $80 million adding just over $27 million by the end of its third weekend isn’t great.
3. Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour
Weekend gross: $5.9M
Total domestic gross: $172.5M
Last weekend: 2nd
Percent drop: 57
I feel like Taylor Swift could just leave this movie in theaters for months and we’d keep seeing it bopping along in the top five.
Weekend gross: $4.8M
Total domestic gross: $12.7M
Last weekend: 4th
Percent drop: 5
In the battle of Presley movies, Priscilla only needs another $138.4 million to pass Elvis.
5. Killers of the Flower Moon
Weekend gross: $4.7M
Total domestic gross: $59.9M
Last weekend: 3rd
Percent drop: 32
Killers of the Flower Moon now has Martin Scorsese’s eighth biggest domestic box office haul (behind Hugo’s $73.9 million) along with being the 13th biggest domestic box office haul for Leonardo DiCaprio (behind Gangs of New York’s $77.7 million).
Box office numbers via The Numbers based on Sunday estimates.