A year and a half ago I wrote an article just after the Marvel Cinematic Universe reached a worldwide gross of 10 Billion dollars in ticket sales. Captain America: Civil War was the film that pushed the franchise over that incredible milestone, making the MCU the very first series to ever reach $10 Billion dollars. It was also the first series to reach 8 and 9 Billion. And since Civil War, three more films have been released under the MCU umbrella bringing the total to over $12 Billion worldwide, and this number shows no signs of slowing. And this lead me to ask the question, can the MCU be stopped?
The answer I gave, based on the growth rate of rival franchises and series at the time was no. It cannot be stopped, and it won’t be topped for another 10-15 years EVEN IF the MCU stops producing films within the next 5 years. By this time next year alone the numbers will likely jump from $12 to around $17 billion at the box office. By averaging the gross of the current Phase 3 films, multiplying that by the number of non-Avenger films coming out, and adding the average of the previous Avengers films together, you’ll find that this next year will be Marvel’s biggest to date. It’s a mighty sum.
In that time Star Wars will overtake J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World films as the number two highest grossing film franchise of all time and it will most likely make it to that coveted $10 Billion box office milestone club. But can Star Wars EVER top what the MCU is amassing at an unprecedented rate? Until the MCU slows down, still no. Even if every Star Wars film rakes in $2 Billion dollars worldwide like The Force Awakens did, which they most certainly cannot, the fact that Marvel has bumped their output from 2 films per year to 3, ensures that their growth will exceed that on an annual basis. And as Star Wars is only putting out 1 film per year, that just won’t happen. But Star Wars just may take that spot some day, because it’s a franchise that’s willing to play the long game.
Now, as impressive as the box office figures are for the MCU, it must be tempered by other figures. If adjusted for the inflation of ticket prices today, the James Bond franchise would sit at the number 1 spot, albeit for only a brief period of time more, with $14 Billion. And as of 2012, Star Wars as a marketing brand was estimated at a worth of over $30 Billion, and I don’t doubt that since Disney has bought it, it’s sitting closer to $40 Billion.
But it is no surprise that since 2012 saw the release of Marvel’s first full team-up in The Avengers, many, many studios have been fast-tracking their own brand of a Cinematic Universe, to varying degrees of success. In our Sunday Geekly Poll we asked you guys whether or not Cinematic Universes were worth it. Over 240 of you voted in and here are your results:
4 thoughts on “Marvel’s Unprecedented Growth: Can It Be Stopped?”
Congratulations to Marvel and Disney for passing a truly incredible milestone. I hope Star Wars follows soon. 🙂 However, and please don’t get me wrong, i realy enjoy the Superhero genre, but…
I can see that people may start to get bored with the whole superhero thing. Sooner or later the MCU will be too large and unwieldy and Disney are going to hit the reset switch. What then? Besides, i think that we need to see something new within the genre. I recently watched Wonder Woman and as enjoyable as the movie was, it really was a “by the numbers” origin story.
Sorry to sound a but negative.
I’m of the opinion that Marvel already has a plan in place to combat franchise fatigue. Adding new characters is a part of that, but I think they’ll split the franchise after Infinity War and move to 3 sub-franchises.
Galactic MCU will have the Guardians and Thor franchises, maybe Captain Marvel will be included here, or maybe they’ll add in Nova.
The revamped Avengers will be Spider-Man, Ant-Man, and whoever takes the Captain America mantle from Chris Evans.
I also think there will be a mystic MCU headlined by Doctor Strange and maybe Black Panther.
At that point I think each sub-franchise will be treated like the MCU as a whole has been to this point. Each will have their own overseer to maintain continuity (like Feige has done), but they won’t need to worry about the other sub-franchises. There will still be individual movies that tie into a larger threat for crossovers, but it will still allow for epic crossovers and cameos. At the same time, it scales back the universe and allows fans to just focus on their favorites.
If done right, the individual movies may not make the enormous amounts of money that they currently are, but they’ll still be massively popular while extending the life of the franchise.
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The MCU will continue growing as long as it acquires/introduces new characters. Spider-Man officially joining the MCU is a perfect example. Imagine what would happen if Marvel’s other heavyhitters, the FF and the X-Men are acquired. Both doing so are unlikely but even without them the MCU is by now a powerful juggernaut.