Box Office Guy

Patrick Reardon

I could try to go into full-blown sports guy talking head mode (ala Stephen A. Smith) and spew a plethora of hot takes as to why "Captain Marvel" is going to bomb this weekend. But that would be disingenuous. It's a Marvel movie. It's going to make a boatload of money.

Although there are a few reasons for skepticism surrounding "Captain Marvel," (much of it generated by toxic fanboys who are upset they weren't asked to write or direct this film) I'm happy to alleviate these concerns.

But Brie Larson Has Never Carried a Movie Before?

That's true. Although she's had supporting roles in a string of hits ("21 Jump Street" $138.4m, "Trainwreck" $110.2m, "Kong: Skull Island" $168.1m) she's never carried a movie on her own. Even her Oscar winning role in "Room" only mustered up $14.7m at the domestic box office. But does it matter in a Marvel movie?

In 2008 Robert Downey's Jr.'s box office appeal was nonexistent. A little flick by the name of "Iron Man" quickly changed that. Before "Thor" Chris Hemsworth was an unknown actor outside of Australia. Before "Captain America" Chris Evans was on a grim five-year box office streak. Before "Guardians of the Galaxy" Chris Pratt was the seventh billed actor on a critically acclaimed but ratings challenged NBC sitcom. And there are about seven other examples of this in the MCU.

People turn out for the Marvel brand, not the actors. Brie Larson will be just fine and her character will be in our movie going lives for the next five to ten years.

But Co-Directors Ryan Fleck & Anna Boden Have Never Handled a Movie This Big?

Also true. They've only directed four indie films. None of them have ever been in more than 757 theaters. And none of them have grossed more than $6.4m (which is roughly the catering budget on a Marvel movie). So what? It's a Marvel movie.

Jon Favreau went from the box office dud "Zathura" into "Iron Man." The Russo Brothers went from "You, Me and Dupree" into two "Captain America" movies and "Avengers: Infinity War." And before helming a pair of "Guardians of the Galaxy" films James Gunn's only two directing efforts at the time ("Slither" and "Super") had grossed a combined $8.1m. These all seemed to work out just fine.

Moviegoers don't care who directs a Marvel movie, they only care that it's a Marvel movie.

But 2019 Box Office Has Been Horrible Thus Far, Won't That Hurt It?

Quite the opposite actually. January and February were awful at the box office thanks to a string of sequels that failed to live up to their predecessors ("Glass," "The LEGO Movie 2," "Happy Death Day 2U"). After a dry spell like this audiences are practically begging for a reason to see a big movie, and "Captain Marvel" is coming along at the perfect time.

But Won't People Save Their Money Until "Avengers: Endgame" Next Month?

That's not a misprint. "Endgame" is coming out NEXT month. And based on the end of "Infinity War" when Nick Fury appears to place a cosmic cell phone call it would appear that "Captain Marvel" has an important role in "Endgame."

With "Endgame" right around the corner fans are not going to risk being out of the loop by skipping "Captain Marvel."


But Aren't People Going to Get Marvel'd Out?

Yes. Everything eventually comes to a close (except "The Simpsons" apparently). But I have no idea when that will actually happen. Of that last ten Marvel movies released (which only covers a span of three years) seven of the ten films have had opening weekends north of $100m. Two of them even cleared the $200m mark ("Black Panther" and "Infinity War"). And the "losers" of this bunch were the two "Ant-Man" movies, which opened up with $57.2m and $75.8m respectively. There isn't another studio in town that wouldn't kill for those "Ant-Man" numbers.

Marvel will eventually run out of gas. But I'm not arrogant enough to definitively state when this will actually happen. "Captain Marvel" is going to be just fine. In case you haven't heard, it's a Marvel movie.

With "Captain Marvel" virtually guaranteed to dominate this weekend the FML pricing gods have split it into daily pricing (Friday FB$510, Saturday FB$451, Sunday $345). As is usually the case for movies of this size the box office tracking is pretty wide. I've seen as low as $120m and as high as $160m. My guess is it lands right in between those poles at around $140m. It should be slightly front-loaded (which super hero flicks usually are) with pretty steady business on both Saturday and Sunday, so I like the 1x Friday and 1x Sunday anchor strategy.


Weekend Picks


My picks for this weekend's top 5 in total box office (this week's cost in FML Bux in parentheses):

  1. Captain Marvel - Friday (FB$510)
  2. Captain Marvel - Saturday (FB$451)
  3. Captain Marvel - Sunday (FB$345)
  4. How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (FB$151)
  5. Tyler Perry's A Madea Family Funeral (FB$104)


Bonus Pick of the Week: "Alita: Battle Angel" (FB$28) I thought this film was going to do much worse domestically. After a better than expected showing on President's Day weekend it showed decent staying power in its third weekend by only dropping 42%. Although "Captain Marvel" is going to siphon a lot of PLF screens away from "Alita" this weekend I really like the way it's priced. With a low cost of FB$28 there is plenty of room for it regardless of what "Captain Marvel" anchor strategy you go with this weekend.



Coming Attractions


Competition will be light for "Captain Marvel" in its second weekend. The only new wide releases are the animated "Wonder Park" and the teen drama "Five Feet Apart." Two weeks from now should be more interesting as Jordan Peele's highly anticipated "Us" hits theaters.

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