Title: Disappointing Box Office Start for Marvel’s ‘The Marvels’ Raises Concerns About Superhero Fatigue
Subtitle: Poor performance in China adds to growing concerns for major studios
Marvel Studios’ latest release, ‘The Marvels’, had a disappointing start at the North American box office, earning a meager $47 million – a record low for a Marvel Studios film. This lackluster performance has raised concerns among analysts, who fear that superhero fatigue might be becoming an urgent and growing problem for major studios.
Not only did ‘The Marvels’ struggle domestically, but it also had a poor opening in China, earning just $11.5 million and losing the three-day weekend to a local crime thriller. This comes as a surprising disappointment, considering previous Marvel releases, such as ‘Captain Marvel’, performed exceptionally well in the Chinese market.
However, it seems that Marvel is not the only one experiencing difficulties in China. Other Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) releases in 2023, such as ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ and ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’, have also struggled to gain traction, earning significantly less than their predecessors.
The decline in popularity of U.S. studio franchises in the Chinese market is not exclusive to Marvel films. Superhero movies, in particular, have faced challenges, while other action genres have managed to hold up relatively better.
Interestingly, it is Barbenheimer originals that have been standouts in the Chinese market. Films like ‘Oppenheimer’ and ‘Barbie’ have performed well despite having limited awareness or nostalgia in the country. This indicates that Chinese audiences are open to diverse content and may be looking for fresh and unique storylines.
Over the weekend, the Chinese film ‘Who’s the Suspect’, directed by Zhang Mo and produced by Beijing Dino Films, emerged as the clear winner, earning an impressive $23.4 million in its opening week. This success further highlights the growing preference of Chinese audiences for local productions.
As the next U.S. film to be released in China, Lionsgate’s prequel ‘The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes’ is set to hit theaters concurrently with its North American release. Industry insiders are keen to see if this film can break the recent trend of underwhelming performances by U.S. films in the Chinese market.
Overall, the disappointing box office start for Marvel’s ‘The Marvels’ and the underperformance of other MCU releases in China suggest that superhero fatigue might be impacting major studios. With local films emerging as strong competitors, it will be interesting to see how Hollywood adapts its strategies to regain the attention of Chinese audiences.
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