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Charted: Marvel’s Box Office Rise (and Fall?)

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Charting marvel box office returns

Charted: Marvel’s Box Office Rise (and Fall?)

Disney’s investment in Marvel Entertainment has earned it tens of billions of dollars, but the latest Marvel box office performances are starting to prove worrying.

On November 10, The Marvels released to movie theaters as the 33rd film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). After one weekend, it had earned just $46 million domestically, making it the lowest-ever debut for an MCU movie.

This chart shows the rise and fall of Marvel box office earnings using data tracked by The Numbers as of November 12.

Marvel Box Office Earnings (2008‒2023)

The MCU was officially kickstarted with the release of Iron Man in 2008, a well-reviewed hit that earned $585 million worldwide at the box office.

Over the next few years, Marvel has released multiple movies in the same universe, building up characters and stories in “phases” and capitalizing with crossover releases. Phase 1 ended with 2012’s The Avengers—The first Marvel movie to earn more than $1 billion.

Here are Marvel’s movie releases in order of recency, as well as their estimated production budgets, box office hauls, and percentage of positive reviews:

Release DateFilmProduction BudgetOpening Weekend
(Domestic)
Box Office
(Worldwide)
Review Score
(Rotten Tomatoes)
Nov. 10, 2023The Marvels$275M$46MTBD61
May 05, 2023Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3$250M$118M$845M82
Feb. 17, 2023Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania$200M$106M$464M46
Nov. 11, 2022Black Panther: Wakanda Forever$250M$181M$854M83
Jul. 08, 2022Thor: Love and Thunder$250M$144M$761M63
May 06, 2022Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness$200M$187M$952M73
Dec. 17, 2021Spider-Man: No Way Home$200M$260M$1,908M93
Nov. 05, 2021Eternals$200M$71M$402M47
Sep. 03, 2021Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings$150M$75M$432M92
Jul. 09, 2021Black Widow$200M$80M$380M79
Jul. 02, 2019Spider-Man: Far From Home$160M$93M$1,132M90
Apr. 26, 2019Avengers: Endgame$400M$357M$2,789M94
Mar. 08, 2019Captain Marvel$175M$153M$1,130M79
Jul. 06, 2018Ant-Man and the Wasp$130M$76M$623M87
Apr. 27, 2018Avengers: Infinity War$300M$258M$2,048M85
Feb. 16, 2018Black Panther$200M$202M$1,336M96
Nov. 03, 2017Thor: Ragnarok$180M$123M$850M93
Jul. 07, 2017Spider-Man: Homecoming$175M$117M$878M92
May 05, 2017Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2$200M$147M$869M85
Nov. 04, 2016Doctor Strange$165M$85M$676M89
May 06, 2016Captain America: Civil War$250M$179M$1,152M91
Jul. 17, 2015Ant-Man$130M$57M$519M83
May 01, 2015Avengers: Age of Ultron$365M$191M$1,395M76
Aug. 01, 2014Guardians of the Galaxy$170M$94M$771M92
Apr. 04, 2014Captain America: The Winter Soldier$170M$95M$714M90
Nov. 08, 2013Thor: The Dark World$150M$86M$645M67
May 03, 2013Iron Man 3$200M$174M$1,215M79
May 04, 2012The Avengers$225M$207M$1,515M91
Jul. 22, 2011Captain America: The First Avenger$140M$65M$371M80
May 06, 2011Thor$150M$66M$449M77
May 07, 2010Iron Man 2$170M$128M$621M72
Jun. 13, 2008The Incredible Hulk$138M$55M$266M67
May 02, 2008Iron Man$186M$102M$585M94
Median$193M$118M$808M83

Throughout the years, Marvel’s movie releases garnered greater box office draws and critical praise, culminating in Avengers: Endgame earning $2.79 billion at the box office and becoming one of the highest grossing movies of all time.

But subsequent releases have been hampered, first by the COVID-19 pandemic and then by a mix of poor reviews, scaled-back marketing campaigns, and oversaturation. While the first three phases of the MCU were limited only to Marvel’s feature film releases, Phase Four (2021‒2022) included eight television shows released on Disney+.

The Marvels, the sequel to the billion-dollar-grossing Captain Marvel and the Disney+ show Ms. Marvel, is the third movie in Phase Five. The phase was planned to span five movies and seven television shows, but Marvel’s recent underperformance and production delays from labor strikes in Hollywood are already causing Disney to re-evaluate its release plans.

Will Marvel be able to climb back into pole position at the global box office?

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