You’ll probably read many articles this week about how much money The Marvels will lose for Disney. The Marvel film, with a budget in the $250 million range, dropped an embarrassing 78 percent in the U.S. in its second weekend, bringing its global gross to about $160 million. This thing will likely top out at less than $200 million in theaters, or, doing the usual math and factoring in the marketing, about $400 million less than the film needs to become “profitable.” Ouch.
It seems like everyone in marketing and P.R. at Disney has already moved on from Marvels and is now trying to prevent another problem with Wish, its holiday animated film, which actually declined a little this week in the prerelease tracking. Brie Larson was on the Today show on Friday to plug her Apple TV+ show and, unless I missed it, didn’t even mention the massive Marvel movie in which she stars and is currently in theaters. That’s cold.
But this question of what is profitable or value-additive or even a hit has become so convoluted lately, as both Amazon and Apple have pushed into traditional bigger-budget theatrical exclusives. Even as the trades and others are jumping all over Marvels, they’re still holding on to this fiction that Killers of the Flower Moon—a movie that also cost in the $250 million range and will fail to generate $200 million in worldwide gross—is somehow a great success because its studio is Apple, not Disney. The same thing happened earlier this year with Ben Affleck’s Air, the Amazon release that grossed $90 million worldwide and was declared a smash hit despite costing the company $130 million to acquire.