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The Marvels Reportedly Set For A Big Box Office Disappointment

"The Marvels" looks like it will fizzle at the box office. 

After a somber finale, the mid-credits scene for "Avengers: Infinity War" promises a brand new hero to save the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Captain Marvel. Played by Oscar-winner Brie Larson, Carol Danvers formally debuts in her 2019 self-titled flick. An absolute juggernaut at the box office, "Captain Marvel" grossed over $1.1 billion after a $153 million stateside debut in early March 2019. Released less than a year after "Infinity War," it was the perfect setup for the hero's involvement in "Avengers: Endgame" — a sentiment that undoubtedly helped it prosper commercially. 

But after a stellar debut, Captain Marvel's sophomore outing doesn't seem to have the momentum to light up multiplexes. "The Marvels" is set to beam into cinemas on November 10 and unites Captain Marvel, Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), and Ms. Marvel (Iman Vellani) for an intergalactic adventure. As exciting as their union must be for hardcore fans, the team is projected to have a tepid start at the box office. 

The Hollywood Reporter has opening weekend tracking between $75-$80 million — a far cry from the massive $150 million plus haul the first flick raked in. Research firm The Quorum has a more liberal estimate, suggesting a $80 to $90 million opening weekend could manifest. This is an extremely muted debut for one of Marvel Studios' most diverse films — "The Marvels" features three female leads and is directed by Nia DaCosta, who rebooted "Candyman" in 2021. 

A sub $100 million debut spells doom for The Marvels

The MCU, purely in terms of box office receipts, is at the top of the franchise food chain. To date, it has grossed over $29.5 billion worldwide, but the cracks are beginning to show. After an incredible box office run leading up to "Avengers: Endgame," Marvel hasn't been able to reach its previous prestigious heights — save for the $1.9 billion haul of "Spider-Man: No Way Home." 

No installment since Spidey's threequel has been able to cross the $1 billion barrier, and it looks like "The Marvels" may not even gross north of $700 million worldwide. Should these estimates pan out, "The Marvels" would be one of the few MCU offerings to open below $100 million. The last entry to do that was Chloe Zhao's "Eternals," which debuted with $71.2 million in late 2021. That film, which emerged as the MCU's first "Rotten" movie on Rotten Tomatoes, earned just over $400 million — a modern-era franchise low. 

What's jarring is that, unlike "Eternals," which features several new characters, "The Marvels" is a team-up of several known and beloved heroes. Beyond Larson's billion-dollar debut, Monica Rambeau and Ms. Marvel emerged as fan favorites thanks to their appearances in "WandaVision" and "Ms. Marvel," respectively. "The Marvels" definitely has brand recognition in its favor, but is its potentially mediocre debut a sign that external factors are at play?

Should Marvel blame the SAG-AFTRA strike or superhero fatigue?

There's no doubt that Brie Larson, Teyonah Parris, and Iman Vellani are a charming trio. Unfortunately, the stars haven't been able to promote "The Marvels" thanks to the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike. The Quorum indicates the film's audience awareness is high, but one can only imagine how impactful the film could be if the cast could do press rounds. If the movie proves to be a hit with fans, it's possible that positive word of mouth could guide it to a solid worldwide haul. 

This year's "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" had a decent debut at $118 million — some $28 million shy of its predecessor, yet it still managed to emerge as a hit with a global gross of $845 million. With superhero fatigue seeping into viewers' minds, there's no sense of urgency to see the latest Marvel film on opening weekend, which means "The Marvels" could boast solid legs and emerge as a success over time. 

Unfortunately, "The Marvels" will face competition from Lionsgate's "The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes" in its sophomore weekend. Seeing as they're gunning for the same female-identifying demographic, the films may end up cannibalizing each other. While it remains to be seen if "The Marvels" is a hit, it's clear from its opening weekend tracking that Marvel Studios should begin to worry. After all, a goose can't always lay golden eggs. 

"The Marvels" zooms its way into theaters on November 10. 

This piece was written during 2023's SAG-AFTRA strike. To learn more about why actors are currently on strike, click here for an up-to-date explainer from our Looper team.