Why Slow and Steady Always Wins The Race (Box Office Breakdown)

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All box office numbers are courtesy of Boxofficemojo.com.

For several years now, jaded audience members have asked about the superhero bubble and when will it burst? When will audiences finally grow tired of superhero movies? Well, it’s been 6 years since Avengers first introduced audiences to Thanos and 10 years in total since Marvel started this unbelievable journey with the original Iron Man. Now with the release of Avengers: Infinity War, audiences have witnessed the first half of the finale to this long-standing cinematic tale and based off of the box office numbers, this bubble isn’t bursting anytime soon.

As reported by BoxOfficeMojo, Infinity War is estimated to bring in an unbelievable $250 Million. As long as this estimated number stays the same, or at least stays above $247 Million, this would mean that Infinity War is going to end the weekend with the highest grossing 3 day weekend of all-time beating out Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Honestly, I can’t say I’m all that surprised by this result. While it makes perfect sense that A New Hope sat at the top of the list, after all, Star Wars fans were salivating with a new found hope that their beloved franchise could be made great again, the fact that Infinity War has more than likely taken the number one spot shouldn’t be a surprise either.

For 10 years, audiences have sat with these characters, some they grew up reading about in the comics or watching in animated adventures on their televisions, while others were being introduced for the first time to mainstream audiences. I love comics a lot, but even I had never heard of the Guardians of The Galaxy. But it didn’t matter if the movie was about a group of space pirates that featured a talking tree and raccoon or the fact that government and it’s most powerful agency were secretly being run by a Nazi-like group that dated back to World War 2, the fact is that the movies were always told in a way that let audiences know that the people creating them weren’t doing it just for the money. Don’t get me wrong, they love the money, A LOT, but they also love bringing these famous comic stories to life. And on top of that, there’s a sense of confidence and control with what’s going on inside the storytelling. And I think that’s really the most important thing that needs to be talked about.

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When DC first announced Man of Steel, they discussed how Superman would be the first superhero that their cinematic world had ever seen. The idea that Superman would be the one to inspire the other heroes to either come out of hiding or to be inspired to stand up and fight for what they believed was right was a really interesting approach to the character and that world and I couldn’t wait. And it was with DC’s very first attempt out the gate that they got cold feet. Man of Steel brought in $116 Million in its opening weekend but that was considered a letdown when compared to Iron Man 3 which brought in $174 Million just a month earlier. Yes, on paper this looks bad. On paper, it seems like DC should be worried, but people forget that the last time we saw Superman in a movie it was in Superman Returns and that movie disappointed everyone, even people that were diehard Superman fans. The reason I bring this is up is because DC had to convince fans that they could make a good Superman movie again.

Clearly, Man of Steel didn’t connect with everyone as the studio saw the film’s second domestic box office numbers tumble from $116 Million all the way down to $41 Million, a 64.6% drop. The would actually continue to struggle domestically, so much in fact, that it never crossed the $300 Million mark. Meanwhile, over in Marvel world, it took Iron Man 3 only 3 weeks to make that much. With all of this being said though, this comparison was unfair. DC shouldn’t have been trying to compete against Iron Man 3. Afterall, this was the first Superman movie in a new cinematic world, this was the third Iron Man movie and the first time we’d seen the character since Avengers. What DC should have compared itself to was Thor The Dark World. Had they made that the narrative, things would have looked very different. The second Thor movie opened domestically at $85 Million and even after being shown in theaters for an insane 25 weeks, 10 weeks longer than Man of Steel, Thor The Dark World still only barely managed to cross the $200 Million line. Suddenly, Man of Steel looks like a success. Domestically, it made a $100 Million more than one of Marvel’s established characters. Amazing!

Sadly though, almost as if DC was more interested in chasing the money, instead of having belief that their story, whatever it originally was, changed directions. Suddenly Batman was announced, and not just any Batman but the old one from that comic that those kids really loved back in the day… I thought Superman was the first hero. Maybe that’s why Batman hated Superman so much in their movie. Superman was stealing all of his glory.  Either way, with this change of direction and the expectation that success would soon be coming their way, fans were quickly greeted by a whirlwind of movies announcements, many that we still have yet to see. And to continue this narrative, with the struggle of Suicide Squad and Batman v. Superman, came even more changes. Changes to the tone, changes to the script, and even changes to the director.

All the while, as DC tried to rush major story moments such as the death of an important character, Marvel just kept doing its thing. Doctor Strange? That’ll never work as a movie. Wrong. Ant-Man? Who wants that? Wrong. No, these movies weren’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but they were important pieces of an overall puzzle. Kevin Feige and the rest of the talented team at Marvel were confident that the story they were telling was one that fans would want. And now, 10 years later, here they are with a film that is primed to make a run at becoming the number one domestic box office movie of all-time.

Quick note, I don’t mention worldwide numbers because Avatars numbers are so high that nothing will come close. It’s not a very fun conversation when there’s no chance for competition.

For the record, this isn’t an attempt at bashing DC. For anyone that’s followed this site over the nearly year it’s been in existence, I have shown my love for characters like Batman many times. What I’m actually trying to do is make an attempt to suggest that in the hands of a different creator, someone with a clear vision that wasn’t willing to dramatically budge, maybe instead of having a movie coming out later this year that has absolutely no buzz, (did you know there’s an Aquaman movie coming out this year), much like Marvel, every DC movie could be an event that not just die-hard fans of the comics would be excited for. Even with the early success of Infinity War though, some are still wondering if this is the beginning of the end for Marvel’s long reign of box office success. Me personally, I feel that as long as the movies and the characters that star in them are interesting and fun, I think audiences will continue to go see them for as long as they keep coming out, and based on the last 10 years of storytelling, I don’t expect that to change anytime soon.

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