The anything-but-marvelous performance of The Marvels is a moment of reckoning for Marvel Studios, the production house that has been the superhero of the box office for much of the past 15 years since Iron Man burst onto the scene in 2008.
Over the Nov. 10-12 weekend, The Marvels debuted to $46.1 million in North America, the worst opening in the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which has raked in more than $30 billion in global movie ticket sales. The 33rd MCU installment was battered by withering audience exit scores and a ho-hum B CinemaScore.
But it wasn't the first warning sign that something was amiss within Marvel in terms of quality control as Feige's team went into overdrive producing shows for streaming; features Eternals and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantamania were also slapped with B CinemaScore, while audiences began complaining about keeping up with an increasing number of shows on Disney+ to understand the overarching MCU story.
Behind the scenes, Marvel Studios and Disney were well aware The Marvels was in trouble before it hit the big screen. There was also a recognition that Feige and his team needed time to take a stock of their theatrical tentpoles, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter. On Nov. 8, Bob Iger said during on an earnings call that Disney's movie empire has "lost focus" because of an emphasis on quantity over quality in the rush to feed Disney+ under the Bob Chapek regime (though it was Iger himself who initiated this push before Chapek's reign.) Feige and his team felt this mandate keenly, to detriment of Marvel's movies, sources say.
A day later, Marvel and Disney revealed they were scaling back the number of superhero films they will release in 2024 from three to one. That news was made at the end of the SAG-AFTRA strike, and while the work stoppage, which shut down production on Deadpool 3, is certainly part of the reason for some of the date changes, it wasn't the only one, sources say.