Marvel’s staged dilemma

The smoother Disney streaming goes, the more dangerous Marvel’s theater business is.

After waiting for two years, Marvel finally returned to the big screen.

On July 9, Marvel’s first cinematic movie “Black Widow” was finally officially released in North America under the epidemic, and it appeared on the Disney streaming platform Disney+. Like the previous “Mulan”, the film is offered to members for a fee of 29.9. Dollars on demand.

Although entering domestic theaters is a high probability event, the release of “Black Widow” in this large ticket warehouse in the mainland is still far away. Shuyujun noticed that although Disney+ deliberately removed the official Chinese subtitles of the film, the resources were quickly spread on the Internet after the film went live on the afternoon of the 9th.

Marvel's staged dilemma

As the first work of the fourth stage of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), the opening performance of “Black Widow” is crucial. As of July 9, the film’s Metacritic score was 68, the freshness of Rotten Tomatoes was 82%, and IMDb6.7, which was not very impressive in Marvel movies. The postponement of the release, the mediocre reputation , and the superimposition of the influence of streaming media resources, for “Black Widow” means hundreds of millions of yuan or even hundreds of millions of dollars in box office losses.

Marvel's staged dilemma

To make matters worse, as far as the current Chinese market is concerned, “Black Widow” is already the safest. The next two Marvel blockbuster films “Shangqi and Legend of the Ten Rings” and “Eternal Race” will face a more difficult public opinion environment. .

At the same time, this year’s Marvel drama series hit a new high in streaming media and drove a large number of user registrations. This contrasts with the greater risk of the Marvel Cinematic movie business in the current public opinion environment. This will be the fourth stage of MCU encounters. A big problem.

“Black Widow” is absent from the mainland, and Marvel loses far more than the box office

“Black Widow”, “Legend of the Ten Rings” and “Eternal Race” were Marvel’s 2020 release list, but it was postponed to this year due to the epidemic.

As Marvel’s first cinematic film after two years, “Black Widow” has been postponed several times and finally synchronized online, which shows that Disney and Marvel are cautious about returning to the cinema.

After testing the waters last year, it is no longer unusual for streaming media to watch Hollywood blockbusters. Both “Wonder Woman 1984” and “Godzilla vs. King Kong” have brought significant user growth to streaming media. But judging from Marvel’s multiple changes to “Black Widow”, it is clear that the cinema is still their most important consideration.

Marvel's staged dilemma

As early as early March , “Black Widow” announced the news that North America will be scheduled for May. Following the practice of Hollywood films after the epidemic, many people expect it will rush into the 51st block of blockbuster films and become one of the biggest competitors, opening up a new situation for the originally sluggish film market.

But then as the epidemic repeated, the global schedule of the film was changed to July, which also caused some concerns for mainland audiences.

For foreign markets, July is the prime time for blockbuster films, but when it comes to mainland China, the original domestic film protection month plus the special environment in July this year makes it twice as difficult to synchronize the changed “Black Widow”. With the simultaneous broadcast of streaming media on the day of launch in North America, the loss in the mainland market is obvious.

Judging from the performance of Marvel movies in the mainland market in the past three years, the box office of Marvel’s single hero movies in the mainland has been between US$100 million and US$200 million. On the whole, the box office of the mainland has been hovering at about half of the North American box office. “Spider-Man: Heroes Expedition”, which has a good box office and reputation, has a box office of 199 million U.S. dollars in China, and the slightly weaker “Black Panther” has a box office of about 105 million U.S. dollars in China.

Judging from the subject matter of Black Widow, the film can correspond more to the “Captain Marvel” released in 2019, which was released in China in March of that year and earned a box office of over 1 billion ($154 million). But whether it is from the long-term fans of the role of Black Widow or the number of fans of actor Scarlett, “Black Widow” is obviously more box office appeal than “Captain Marvel”.

And with the release of “Reunion 4”, the mainland box office of 629 million U.S. dollars directly followed the North American box office of 858 million U.S. dollars, and the position of Marvel movies in the mainland market is no longer the same.

“Black Widow”‘s already visible loss at the box office in mainland China, and its currently not outstanding reputation, are not good for the beginning of the fourth phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

Compared with “Black Widow”, the other two movies “Shang Qi and Legend of the Ten Rings” and “Eternal Clan” in the fourth phase of this year’s MCU are expected to encounter greater controversy.

“Shangqi and Legend of the Ten Rings” scheduled for September in North America was resisted by domestic audiences as early as the beginning of the casting. Since then, every new material will be noisy on the domestic platform.

Although the film tells the story of Chinese heroes, there are also faces familiar to audiences such as Tony Leung and Michelle Yeoh, but from the previous controversy in “Mulan”, it can be seen that Hollywood’s stereotyped presentation of Eastern culture and the oriental background, full English dialogue The style is not acceptable to many Chinese audiences.

Marvel's staged dilemma

(The new stills of “Shang Qi” were criticized for earth-shaking)

In addition, the “political correctness” controversy left by “Black Panther” has also left audiences with a preconceived impression of such non-white super British films.

Under the dual risks of domestic public opinion and film positioning, even if “Shang Qi” is introduced, it is destined to face a war of words in the public opinion field. And another blockbuster film “Eternal Race” is also facing a lot of public opinion storms.

As a representative work of the new stage of MCU, “Eternal Family” is regarded as a succession work of the “Relink Series”, and it has been highly anticipated by the industry after the trailer was released. However, due to public opinion disputes involving the director, the film has also become a sensitive work. Marvel officials are obviously also aware of the severity of the incident. In the poster published earlier on its official Weibo , the director’s name was not even written on the official Weibo .

Marvel's staged dilemma

(“Eternal Race” stills)

The performance of “Black Widow”, “Shang Qi” and “Eternal Race” in the mainland not only affects the overall commercial performance of these films themselves, but also affects the layout of the MCU and the trend of its business model in the next few years.

The biggest advantage of the Marvel Cinematic Universe lies in the connection between its stories. Through the establishment of a connection between a single story and a character or an auxiliary egg promotion, the audience will be led from one film to the next, thereby driving the audience to continue. , Watch the movie repeatedly. With the emergence of this model, the production of the next work can be started in time without waiting for the word-of-mouth and box office release. While greatly reducing the time cost, it has achieved a higher return than other movies.

If Marvel’s three movies this year cannot be introduced, or the box office shrinks after a substantial postponement, it will be a very big blow to the fourth stage of MCU. The loss will not only be the box office (Marvel’s box office in the Mainland nearly 1 billion U.S. dollars in 2019), but will also have a certain impact on other MCU movies and derivative dramas in the future.

Super British movies move towards streaming media, Marvel Cinemas business is facing reassessment

But in addition to the impact of changes in the public opinion environment, another threat to Marvel’s film business is the streaming media that Disney actively participates in.

The audio-visual experience of Super British movies is one of the main reasons why it attracts audiences to the cinema. However, it has become the norm for blockbuster films to appear on streaming media in the past year, and people’s acceptance of watching Super British movies on small screens is gradually increasing. Once new movie-watching habits are established, the commercial value of blockbuster movies in theaters will be threatened.

And this possibility is inseparable from the success of Marvel’s own original series. Although Marvel has produced many dramas before, from the perspective of the three Marvel dramas launched on Disney+ this year, Marvel’s investment in original dramas has been significantly higher than before, and it has achieved both from word of mouth and number of viewers. A good result.

Marvel's staged dilemma

From “Wanda Vision” in January to “Falcon and the Winter Soldier” which was launched in March, to “Rocky” which was launched in early June, the data of Marvel’s drama series has gone up all the way. According to the statistics of smba tv, the number of households watching the first episode of the three series is 660,000, 760,000 and 890,000 respectively.

The reputation of the three dramas on IMDb and Douban also exceeds that of many Marvel movies. For example, the worst “Falcon and the Winter Soldier” also has a score of 7.5 on Douban. These dramas are not only produced in the same way as other blockbusters, but also linked to the theater movies in plot.

These Marvel dramas have also brought many changes to the rapidly developing Disney+. For example, “Rocky” has become the most watched original series in Disney+, and starting from “Rocky”, Disney+’s original drama The broadcast time of the episode has been advanced from Friday to Wednesday.

It is not difficult to see that part of this time adjustment is to match the movie’s online time. Most films will be scheduled for Friday, and this time “Black Widow” is no exception. However, if the Disney+ broadcast time is not adjusted, it will inevitably cause data diversion.

On the other hand, other Hollywood streaming media have also aimed at the big IP field, and are also accelerating the change of public viewing habits.

Amazon previously bought “Tomorrow’s War” at a sky-high price of $200 million. It broke Amazon’s viewing record after it went live last week. The sequel is already under discussion. Blockbusters of this level bypass theaters and are directly webcasted more and more.

Marvel's staged dilemma

More big IPs are on the road. Two months ago, in May, Amazon announced the acquisition of MGM, the copyright owner of the “007” series for US$8.45 billion. It is not impossible for the next generation of “007” movies to go online directly on Amazon, or even to shoot online dramas directly. 

At present, Amazon’s IP masterpiece “Lord of the Rings” series is already in full swing. The series was originally scheduled to go online this year, but due to the impact of the epidemic on the shooting process, the current broadcast time is undetermined. According to the “Hollywood Report”, the investment in the first season of the show was US$465 million, which is also the highest cost of a single season in history.

Under such circumstances, other streaming media platforms are naturally not to be outdone, and are struggling to seize the big IP and the big director. The news of the signing of a cooperation agreement between Netflix and Spielberg’s Abelin Pictures shocked the film industry not long ago.

Marvel's staged dilemma

Spielberg once publicly stated that movies broadcast on the Internet should go to Emmys instead of Oscars. The implication is that in his opinion, movies that are only broadcast on the Internet without entering theaters cannot be regarded as movies but only TV. Therefore, he has always been considered an opponent of streaming media.

And this time Spielberg changed his attitude and announced the cooperation with Netflix. On the one hand, it can be seen that the impact of the epidemic on American cinema movies is not small. On the other hand, it can also be seen that the momentum of streaming media is unstoppable.

In addition, in early April, Netflix, Disney and Sony Pictures have reached an agreement. Within five years from 2022, Sony Pictures’ film and television works will be released on the Netflix and Disney’s platforms after the theater distribution and video-on-demand. Exclusive play. Including Marvel and Sony’s “Spider-Man: Heroes Without Home” and other films.

Not to mention Warner. At the end of last year, it was announced that all cinema movies in 2021 will be launched on HBO Max simultaneously, making Hollywood a sensation.

It is obvious that film companies and creators are inclined to streaming media, which shows that the film industry is betting: the audience’s attention and purchasing power will be greatly inclined to streaming media in the future.

The threat of streaming media to theatrical movies has been discussed for a long time, and most people are on a neutral stand-that is, streaming media will coexist with theatrical movies. But the reality that must be faced is that: the public’s entertainment time is fixed. When the audience gradually accepts watching blockbuster movies at home, the theater-line movie market space will naturally be further eroded. And Marvel, as the number one main force in the blockbuster movie, will have to compete in the increasingly limited stock market by then.

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