Disney CEO Bob Iger said at the New York Times’ DealBook Summit (via CNBC) following “The Marvels” flopping at the box office that there was a lack of supervision on the set of the film as a result of the COVID pandemic. The combination of pandemic set restrictions and Disney’s increased output due to the launch of streamer Disney+ made it increasingly difficult for studio executives to oversee the onslaught of new productions.
Since opening in theaters in November, the Brie Larson-led Marvel sequel has only grossed $77 million at the domestic box office and $187 million worldwide. It’s the biggest flop yet in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and is shaping up to be the first MCU title not to cross the $100 million mark domestically.
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″‘The Marvels’ was shot during Covid,” Iger explained. “There wasn’t as much supervision on the set, so to speak, where we have executives [that are] really looking over what’s being done day after day after day.”
“The Marvels” flop follows other underperforming Disney films from this year such as “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” and “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.” As Variety reported earlier this month, 2023 will mark the first time since 2014 (except for the pandemic-stricken years of 2020 and 2021) that Disney hasn’t launched a billion-dollar release. The studio had seven billion dollar grosses in 2019, including “Avengers: Endgame” and “The Lion King.”
“I’m not sure another studio will ever achieve some of the numbers that we achieved,” Iger said at the press conference. “I mean, we got to the point where if a film didn’t do a billion dollars in global box office, we were disappointed. That’s an unbelievably high standard and I think we have to get more realistic.”
Speaking more broadly about Disney’s output, Iger added, “I don’t want to apologize for making sequels. Some of them have done extraordinarily well and they’ve been good films, too. I think you there has to be a reason to make them, you have to have a good story. And often the story doesn’t hold up to is not as strong as the original story. That can be a problem.”
Per CNBC: “Iger said that there has to be a reason ‘beyond commerce’ to make a follow-up film to a hit, noting that over the last past few years Disney has ‘made too many.'”
“It doesn’t mean we’re not going to continue to make them,” Iger added. “We’re making a number of them now right as a matter of fact. But we will only greenlight a sequel if we believe the story that the creators want to tell is worth telling.”
“The Marvels” flopped right out of the gate when it opened to $47 million at the domestic box office, the lowest opening weekend in the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Before that opening, the worst debut belonged to 2008’s “The Incredible Hulk” ($55.4 million, not adjusted for inflation), which premiered at the dawn of the MCU. News for “The Marvels” only got worse as it earned $10.2 million in its second weekend, a disastrous 78% fall that holds the record the MCU’s biggest second-weekend drop.
In an interview with Yahoo Entertainment following the movie’s opening, “The Marvels” star Iman Vellani said the disappointing box office numbers are an issue for Iger and not for her.
“I don’t want to focus on something that’s not even in my control, because what’s the point?” she said. “That’s for Bob Iger.”
“[The box office] has nothing to do with me,” Vellani continued. “I’m happy with the finished product, and the people that I care about enjoyed the film. It’s genuinely a good time watching this movie, and that’s all we can ask for with these films. It has superheroes, it take place in space, it’s not that deep and it’s about teamwork and sisterhood. It’s a fun movie, and I’m just so happy that I can share it with people.”
“The Marvels” is still playing in theaters nationwide.
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