The SAG-AFTRA strike may be over, but the box office still hasn’t recovered from its effects. In a desperate attempt to drum up ticket sales for The Marvels, as soon as the strike ended, Disney put Brie Larson on the Friday edition of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, alongside pop-up appearances at a screening in New York, with Iman Vellani also surprising audiences at a screening in Los Angeles.
Unfortunately, it was too little too late for The Marvels, which only raked up $47.0 million in its opening weekend and $110 million globally, making it the lowest-grossing opening of all time for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, below Ant-Man and The Incredible Hulk. The MCU has largely been critic-proof for a long time, but after a string of disappointments both theatrically and on Disney+, the effects of this are now felt at its global box office for The Marvels.
Because of its significant budget and since the first made over $1 billion worldwide, the film will be considered a flop, and it is. However, it should be noted that the strike has impacted box office sales worldwide, with the only exception being Five Nights at Freddy’s as one of the few massively profitable pictures without a proper press tour. Some will say Barbenheimer was also profitable, but that press tour was banked before the strike began. Most blockbusters released at that time didn’t perform very well. Some have argued that press tours aren’t important in drumming up box office sales, but they are gaining visibility for a movie, especially a blockbuster. It can very much make a difference. Look at how Elemental started versus how it ended its run. Visibility helps; if there is none, the average moviegoer may not know it’s out.
Still, if The Marvels ends its box office run with $400-500 million, it’s not that terrible, and the MCU isn’t “cooked” as some on social media loudly scream every time a superhero film flops. Compared to the DCEU, the MCU is in a far better position, with their two Phase Five films released this year making a combined $1.3 billion at the global box office, while DC hasn’t had a commercial hit since Joker. When Deadpool 3 clears $1 billion easily next year, we’ll all laugh at the time we all thought the MCU was in shambles. Instead of being hyperbolic, remember how we had some great superhero stuff released lately that was commercially viable, even if some of them weren’t up to par. The good thing is that Marvel seems to be learning from their mistakes, but is it too little too late? I don’t think it is, but we will have to see next year.
As far as other movies this weekend went, the faith-based film Journey to Bethlehem made over $2.2 million in 2,002 theatres, while Alexander Payne‘s The Holdovers expanded in more theatres with a $3.2 million tally, making it in the top ten of the weekend. I was surprised at how many people were at my screening just today, and it will likely be one of the most profitable films of Awards season as it begins to fully ramp up with the actors now able to participate in FYC panels and interviews. And since press tours are also going to ramp up for upcoming releases, expect a bump in the box office in the coming weeks. It won’t be immediate, but it will hopefully return to the normal we’ve seen this year before the strike.
Here is the full list of the top ten films of the weekend:
- The Marvels (Disney): $47.0M – 4,030 theatres
- Five Nights at Freddy’s (Universal/Peacock): $9.0M (-52.6%) – 3,694 theatres
- Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour (Variance Films): $5.9M (-56.7%) – 2,848 theatres
- Priscilla (A24): $4.7M (-4.9%) – 2,361 theatres
- Killers of the Flower Moon (Paramount/Apple TV+): $4.6M (-32.3%) – 3,357 theatres
- The Holdovers (Universal): $3.2M (+463.4%) – 778 theatres
- Journey to Bethlehem (Sony): $2.4M – 2,002 theatres
- PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie (Paramount): $1.76M (-13.2%) – 1,779 theatres
- Radical (Pantelion Films): $1.75M (-34.1%) – 534 theatres
- The Exorcist: Believer (Universal): $1.1M (-45.4%) – 1,587 theatres
Source: Box Office Mojo