The Quorum

Can Marvel films survive the next few months?

The studio is having a moment on the TV side. Not so much on the film side.

BLACK WIDOW opened to $80M theatrically, and everyone is jockeying to be the first to say that Marvel is done. It’s over. After an epically successful 13-year run, Marvel is toast. Stick a fork in it.

There have been several think pieces about WIDOW’s performance. It had the 6th-lowest opening weekend for a Marvel film and about half as much as CAPTAIN MARVEL, the last stand-alone Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) title. Some chalk it up to the film debuting simultaneously on Disney+. Others have highlighted the piracy that frequently accompanies a streaming release. Others think it’s simply fatigue.

Perhaps something else is happening here. By expanding into television, has Marvel become a victim of its own success? Has all the MCU buzz shifted to TV?

Consider the evidence. First, WANDAVISION received 23 Emmy nominations, and THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER got five additional nods. LOKI debuted after the eligibility period ended. Compare that to the 19 Oscar nominations received across 23 Marvel films. Most of those were for visual effects.

On top of that, the three MCU TV shows have generated more Wikipedia searches than the four 2021 Marvel movies. Clearly, TV has the buzz.

Let’s ask the fans.

Think pieces are great, but we wanted to know what the fans think. At The Quorum, we posed a series of questions to die-hard Marvel fans. To qualify, they had to have seen no fewer than 15 Marvel films.

For this study, we had three goals. First, we wanted to know if this group is more excited by Marvel’s film or television offerings. Second, we wanted to know if they had seen WIDOW and what they thought of it. And, lastly, we wanted to know which of the four upcoming MCU films they are most excited about

QUESTION #1: WHAT EXCITES YOU MORE RIGHT NOW — MARVEL FILM OR TELEVISION? Let’s get to the bottom of this. Are Marvel fans more drawn to the film or television content right now? Of the respondent, 13% said they are more excited by Marvel’s movies, 35% say it’s the TV shows that they’re into, while a clear majority like both film and TV equally. So, yes, TV seems to have a slight edge right now. Television’s dominance of the cultural zeitgeist is reflected in these numbers.

But, it’s important to note, with the majority of people saying they are excited by both film and TV, the core is embracing both content streams.

QUESTION #2: HAVE YOU SEEN BLACK WIDOW? The good news is that this group of Marvel enthusiasts has either already seen WIDOW (41%) or plans to (56%). Only 3% said they have no interest in seeing the movie.

On top of that, of those that saw it, 60% said it was “among the best Marvel films,” while the remaining 40% said it was “good, but not one of Marvel’s best.” Not one respondent said they were “disappointed by the film” or that it was “among the worst Marvel titles.” Bottom line: the core is largely still on board and excited.

That brings us to…

QUESTION #3: UPCOMING MARVEL MOVIES: We asked these Marvel fans to rate their interest in the four upcoming Marvel films currently being measured by The Quorum.

If you’ve been following the numbers in The Quorum, it may not be surprising to see that the next two MCU titles to arrive in theaters, SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS and ETERNALS, have much lower scores than the better-known SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME and DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS. Those two round out 2021 and extend into the spring of 2022.

This very much matches the data we see at The Quorum. The interest scores for SPIDER-MAN and STRANGE rank in the top 10 among all upcoming releases. Meanwhile, ETERNALS ranks 14th and SHANG-CHI ranks 30th, with a surprisingly low score of 5.2.

This essentially means that Marvel is in for a rough time at the box office until SPIDER-MAN arrives in December. If the press ripped apart BLACK WIDOW for its $80M opening, imagine what they will say about SHANG-CHI and ETERNALS. Plus, these two are opening exclusively in theaters meaning Disney can’t hide behind closely guarded streaming numbers to veil success, or lack thereof.

Bottom line: Marvel TV is having a moment at precisely the time when the studio is entering what could be a rough patch on the film side. Unless SHANG-CHI and ETERNALS surprise to the upside, the film side of the house will have to wait until SPIDER-MAN’s arrival over Christmas for a clear win.

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