July 22, 2024

It appears as if Disney is just going to continue its tired, woke practice and dismal performances with its properties – blather, blame, repeat. The latest example is one that becomes so glaring that ignoring the reality is no longer an option. The current Marvel offering debuted Friday with Brie Larson reprising her role in “The Marvels,” and the returns are far from heroic.

What has been apparent for some time is that this was going to be problematic for Disney. Initial expectations of the film garnering a $100 million opening weekend were scaled back to a $70-80 million range; then the tracking was revised down even further as advance ticket sales showed diminished interest. Last week, the estimates were in the $55-70 million window, but now that has become even worse as actual numbers are coming in.

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Based on the Friday-Saturday box office returns, it is looking like a $47 million return is the dismal reality, making for the lowest opening for a film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The reality behind this and the explanations given are notably divergent, and therein lies the story. Two primary excuses for this failure are being offered – “superhero fatigue” and, of course, sexism. As expected, both wither under analysis.

Rather than audiences tiring of comic book adaptation fatigue, what is more likely is Disney diluting its franchise offerings. The desire to push and promote its Disney+ streaming service is understandable, but it has mismanaged this plan. Instead of making the streaming titles from Marvel a seamless extension of its MCU, these efforts have become required in a manner in order to fully embrace the storylines. Prior releases of the heroes in its stable were able to stand on their own, as they fed into an overarching plotline leading up to “The Avengers” films. If you did not follow all of the films, you could still enjoy the “Iron Man” releases, as those were able to stand on their own.

This “fatigue” claim also does not stand up when you see the successes of late. Last year’s “Black Panther” delivered, as did “Spider-man: Across the Spiderverse” and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” this summer. The other excuse being made is the tired method of blaming the audience. Male aggression and other usual accusations of misogyny towards a female-driven movie have been trotted out.

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This is just a lame narrative, and it becomes laughable when actual reality is brought into the discussion. To start, there are examples of female heroes delivering success. Recall “Wonder Woman” being enthusiastically embraced by audiences. Oh, and there is the small matter of the original “Captain Marvel.” How can sexism be said to be a factor when that film – with the same character and same actress – managed to somehow earn over $1 billion?!

But the vacancy of this accusation is completely exposed as a sham when you look into the specifics of this weekend. At Deadline, they provide the analytics of the audiences who came out for this film, and there is a sobering reality found that will upset the feminist cheerleaders accusing intolerant sexism for torpedoing this title.

Other diagnostics on The Marvels: 65% male leaning, with 45% men over 25, 22% women over 25 (giving it the best grades at 82%), men under 25 at 20%, and women under 25 at 14%. Biggest demo was 25-34 at 33%.

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Now how exactly is this failure blamed on toxic male opposition when two-thirds of the ticket buyers were male, with nearly half the audience being older men? If this were truly a case of a film sinking because of sexism, then those demographic numbers would be flipped. Instead, we see that women did not turn out to support this release, and there was about a ten percent drop in female support from the first film. So ladies, please explain this departure. If men are to blame for this dismal return, where is the blame on the studio? Disney did not lend its support behind this release, a sure sign it felt it had a losing proposition. Writing at Deadline, Anthony D’Alessandro details the abject lack of a push from the studio.

There was no pulse on The Marvels going back to San Diego Comic-Con. I mean, despite the actors strike, there wasn’t a damn banner, billboard, or emblazoned logo plastic bag in the city. I mean, Disney could have at least dropped a featurette or a trailer to fans to wow them out in Hall H and send them into a social media frenzy. It’s as though Disney knew this whipped-cream sequel was a dud and cut their losses…it was clear there was nothing in the fluffy trailer that triggered a want-to-see for Marvel fans.

So Disney continues to churn out “message” products, continues to get tepid responses, and continues to level the blame at the alleged intolerant audience rather than see who the real villains are by looking in the mirror.

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