Marvel Loses Hundreds of Millions, Disney’s Most Profitable Studio “In a Bit of a Slump”

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kevin feige with endgame cast


For years — since Robert Downey, Jr. debuted as Tony Stark in Iron Man (2008) — Kevin Feige’s Marvel Cinematic Universe has reigned supreme at the box office.

Kevin Feige talking with RDJ and Mark Ruffalo
Credit: D23

Related: New Marvel Star Accused of Cultural Appropriation, Fans Plan ‘Shang-Chi’ Boycott

At the global box office, three of the top seven movies all-time are MCU films — Avengers: Endgame (2019), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), and Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021) all hold top spots:

  1. Avatar (2009) – $2,847,397,339 
  2. Avengers: Endgame (2019) – $2,797,501,328 2019
  3. Titanic (1997) $2,201,647,264 
  4. Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015) – $2,069,521,700
  5. Avengers: Infinity War $2,048,359,754 2018
  6. Spider-Man: No Way Home $1,901,232,550 2021
  7. Jurassic World
Tobey Maguire, Tom Holland, and Andrew Garfield as SPider-man
Credit: Marvel Studios/Sony Pictures

Related: MCU Secret Divulged, RDJ DID Play Iron Man After Official Exit

Now, however, it seems that Marvel Studios, Disney’s most profitable movie house, might be hitting “a bit of a slump.” According to a new Wall Street Journal report, Feige’s super hero films — while still incredibly popular — have lost hundreds of millions of dollars recently when compared to their earlier predecessors.

WSJ notes, specifically:

Since Disney acquired Marvel in 2009, the studio has produced 25 superhero films that have grossed a total $25 billion worldwide, making it one of the highest-earning film studios in Hollywood history. Among them are Marvel’s 2019 “Avengers: Endgame,” the highest-grossing movie of all time with $2.8 billion at the global box office; “Avengers: Infinity War,” which grossed $2 billion, and eight more that topped $1 billion each.

But since the beginning of 2021, the average global box-office gross of the six films produced by Marvel has fallen to $773.6 million—roughly half the $1.5 billion average of the previous six films.

Avengers Endgame characters running in (left to right), M'Baku, Hulk, Captain America, Korg, Thor
Credit: Marvel Studios

Related: Marvel Drops First Trailer With Sam Wilson’s Captain America

The outlet also reported that:

“Eternals” ($402.3 million total gross), “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” ($420.7 million) and “Black Widow” ($373.2 million) have stuck out as major flops, at least by the lofty standards of Marvel movies’ previous box-office performances.

Critical reception of the films has suffered as well. According to Rotten Tomatoes, a website that tracks movie reviews, the last six Marvel titles averaged a 75% approval rating among critics, compared with 88.5% for the prior six.

(L-R): Richard Madden and director Chloé Zhao on the set of Marvel Studios' ETERNALS. Photo by Sophie Mutevelian. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.
Credit: Marvel Studios

Related: Florence Pugh Not Following Scarlett Johansson, Confirms Immediate MCU Return

However, other metrics prove it’s all in how you look at things, particularly in regard to the fact that pandemic culture dramatically altered how Hollywood functions.

Despite the fact that Marvel has seemingly lost some ground with recent release, it is worth noting that the movie industry is still playing catch-up from COVID-19 pandemic theater closures and filming delays — plus, an increasing number of studios are turning to streaming services and series to fill the void for theater goers.

Oscar Isaac as Marc Spector/Moon Knight
Credit: Marvel Studios

Related: Marvel Writer Spits in the Face of Fans, Does Not Care if MCU Erases Character’s Heritage

Marvel, for example, has a full slate of Disney+ Original series that have introduced characters like Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani), Moon Knight/Marc Spector/Steven Grant (Oscar Isaac), Sylvie (Sophia di Martino), and Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis Dreyfus) into the MCU.

The Walt Disney Company released films a variety of different ways as the pandemic continued into 2021, with CEO Bob Chapek saying at one point that the studio and its subsidiaries — including Marvel StudiosLucasfilm, Ltd./Star Wars, and Pixar Animation Studios — had to “put a stake in the ground” in regard to making decisions about how movies would reach audiences.

loki (left) and sylvie (right) sitting in booth
Credit: Marvel Studios

Related: Pedro Pascal Mocks Oscar Isaac For Dissing the Mandalorian

Despite the hardships, Marvel movies still arguably dominated the 2021 box office, even if they didn’t bring in the numbers that earlier projects did.

The brand standout year with five movies added to the brand’s already massive library. Between Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures, the Marvel universe added Black Widow (July 9, 2021), Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (September 3, 2021), Venom: Let There Be Carnage (October 1, 2021), Eternals (November 5, 2021), and the record-setting Spider-Man: No Way Home (December 17, 2021).

black widow (l-r) rachel weisz,scarlett johansson, florence pugh at table
Credit: Marvel Studios

Per one article about the impressive feat:

…those [five] movies made more than $1.35 billion in North America — about 30% of the overall $4.45 billion earned in ticket sales last year…

captain america winter soldier cast with kevin feige at comic con 2013
Credit: Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons

Related: Kevin Feige Reveals the Next Decade of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Now, as Marvel moves forward into Phase Five and Phase Six, MCU fans clearly have a lot to look forward to both on the small screen and in movie theaters around the world — as new characters continue joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe and fans continue returning to normal life in a post-pandemic culture, perhaps Marvel Studios will see a spectacular rebound sooner rather than later.

What do you think? Will Marvel continue to be dominant in 2023 and beyond?

You can stream Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow and the seven series in Marvel’s Phase Four so far — Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany’s WandaVision, Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, Marvel’s What If…?, Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye, Oscar Isaac’s Moon Knight, and Iman Vellani’s Ms. Marvel— on Disney+ anytime.

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