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‘Marvels’ melted at the box office

NEW YORK — Since 2008’s “Iron Man,” the Marvel machine has been one of the most unstoppable forces in box office history. But now this aura of invincibility is showing signs of wear and tear. The superhero factory hit a new low with the weekend launch of “The Marvels,” which opened Sunday with just $47 million, according to studio estimates.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s 33rd film, the Brie Larson-led sequel to 2019’s “Captain Marvel,” managed less than a third of its predecessor’s $153.4 million debut before grossing $1.13 billion worldwide.

Sequels, especially in Marvel Land, shouldn’t fall off a cliff. But “The Marvels” debuted with $100 million less than “Captain Marvel” opened; This was something no sequel had done before. David A. Gross, director of the film consulting firm Franchise Research Entertainment, called it “Marvel’s unprecedented box office collapse.”

The previous low for a Marvel movie from Walt Disney Co. was “Ant-Man,” which returned with $57.2 million in 2015. Otherwise, you’d have to step outside of the Disney MCU for a Marvel movie to start with such a slow rollout. Universal’s “The Incredible Hulk” with $55.4 million in 2008, Sony’s “Morbius” with $39 million in 2022, or 20th Century Fox’s “Fantastic Four” remake with $25.6 million in 2015 like making.

But “The Marvels” was a $200 million-plus sequel to the billion-dollar blockbuster. It was also an outstanding Marvel release in many ways. Directed by Nia DaCosta, the film was the first MCU film directed by a Black woman. It was also the rare Marvel movie directed by three women (Larson, Teyonah Parris and Iman Vellani).

Reviews weren’t strong (62% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes), and neither was audience response. It became the third MCU release to receive a “B” CinemaScore from moviegoers, following “The Marvels”, “Eternals” and “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantamania”.

The Marvels, which earned $63.3 million in international ticket sales, could be a turning point in the MCU. Over the years, the franchise has amassed $33 billion worldwide; Disney made this point when giving its gross report on Sunday.

But as movie screens and streaming platforms become increasingly crowded with superhero movies and series, some analysts have found a new climate of fatigue is emerging for audiences. Disney chief executive Bob Iger himself has spoken out about Marvel’s possible oversaturation.

“Over the last three and a half years, the species’ growth has stalled,” Gross wrote in a news release Sunday.

Either way, things are changing for superheroes. This year’s box office crown is Warner Bros. It seems certain that it will go to “Barbie”, which became the biggest success of the year, grossing more than $1.4 billion worldwide.

Marvel has still made hits lately. “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3″ was released this summer with $118 million and ultimately grossed $845.6 million worldwide. Sony’s “Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse” grossed $690.5 million worldwide and is expected to be nominated for an Oscar after rave reviews.

The actors’ strike didn’t do “The Marvels” any favors either. The film’s cast was not allowed to promote the film until the strike was called off late Wednesday evening when SAG-AFTRA and the studios reached an agreement. Larson and her friends quickly jumped on social media and made surprise appearances at theaters. And Larson was a guest on “The Tonight Show” on Friday.

The normally regular schedule of MCU broadcasts was also disrupted by the strikes. After numerous delays due to the strike, the only Marvel movie currently on the studio’s 2024 calendar is “Deadpool 3,” which is set to be released on July 26.

Separately, Universal Pictures’ “Five Nights at Freddy’s” remained at the top of the box office for two weeks before falling to second place with $9 million in its third weekend of release. The Blumhouse-produced video game adaptation accumulated $127.2 million domestically.

Taylor Swift’s “The Eras Tour” concert film came in third with $5.9 million from 2,484 venues in its fifth weekend of release. The film, produced by Swift and distributed by AMC Theaters, grossed $172.5 million domestically and $240.9 million worldwide.

Sofia Coppola’s “Priscilla” performed strongly in its second weekend of wide release. The A24 film, starring Cailee Spaeny as Priscilla Presley and Jacob Elordi as Elvis, remained in fourth place with $4.8 million, down just 5% from the previous week.

Apple Studios’ “Killers of the Flower Moon,” directed by Martin Scorsese and distributed theatrically by Paramount Pictures, grossed $4.7 million in its fourth weekend, bringing its domestic haul to nearly $60 million. While $200 million is pretty low for a movie, “The Killers of the Flower Moon” is essentially an awards-season statement about Apple’s increased filmmaking ambitions.

Alexander Payne’s acclaimed film “The Holdovers,” starring Paul Giamatti as a cranky boarding school instructor, opened with $3.2 million from 778 locations in its first weekend of extended release. An anticipated Oscar contender, the Focus Features release will hope to get strong legs through the fall.

“Journey to Bethlehem,” a film from Sony’s Christian subsidiary Affirm Films, opened with $2.4 million in nearly 2,000 locations.

Estimated ticket sales at U.S. and Canadian theaters from Friday through Sunday, according to Comscore. Final domestic figures will be announced on Monday.

1. “The Wonders,” $47 million.

2. “Five Nights at Freddy’s,” $9 million.

3. “Taylor Swift: Eras Tour,” $5.9 million.

4. “Priscilla,” $4.8 million.

5. “The Killers of the Flower Moon” $4.7 million.

6. “Those Who Still Remain,” $3.2 million.

7. “Journey to Bethlehem,” $2.4 million.

8. “Tiger 3,” $2.3 million.

9. “Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie” $1.8 million.

10. “Radical,” $1.8 million.

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