Here comes Captain Marvel to the rescue and to set the box office back on track.
The domestic comp to last year has been off by as much as 26% and that’s largely because we’re comparing this year to a Black Panther-fueled winter a year ago. Well, business is about to get better for 2019 as Disney’s Captain Marvel, the first Marvel movie since July’s Ant-Man and the Wasp is hoping to rocket-charge to a $150M start in U.S./Canada and a $350M worldwide opening, which would be higher than DC’s Wonder Woman ($228.3M), Justice League ($278.8M), and Fox/Marvel’s Deadpool 2 ($300.4M), and just under Black Panther‘s WW first frame of $371.4M. What’s giving further juice to the lofty Captain Marvel stateside forecast is that we’re hearing the pic’s advance ticket sales are beating that of Captain America: Civil War. After a slew of superheros vanished into thin air in that movie, fans can’t wait to see Captain Marvel as it’s the appetizer and bridge to next month’s Avengers: End Game.
Captain Marvel reps the studio’s first female superhero movie. Anyway you cut this, Captain Marvel is bound to be not only a huge win for female-driven fare at the box office, but a triumph for women behind the camera and on this project that includes co-director and writer Anna Boden, co-screenwriter Geneva Robertson-Dworet, EPs Victoria Alonso and Patricia Whitcher, Composer Pinar Toptrak, Co-editor Debbie Berman, Art Directors Elena Albanese, Lauren E. Polizzi, set decorator Lauri Gaffin, and costume designer Sanja Milkovic Hays. Also, Disney and the production engaged the military heavily and Air Force both behind the scenes and in marketing and Captain Marvel reps a big honor and homage to them as well.
Yes, tracking does show a $120M-$140M start for the Brie Larson-Samuel L. Jackson movie here (their third team-up onscreen after Kong: Skull Island and Larson’s directorial Unicorn Store) in the U.S at 4,200 theaters, but industry projection believe that the marketplace is just salivating for a great superhero five-quad movie. It’s just been too long. Should Captain Marvel fall short of $150M, yet north of $100M, she’ll still be fine, and know that tracking isn’t exact for any movie once it’s projected past the century mark. Captain Marvel is already 86% certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes from 93 reviews and buzz has been over the moon since screenings and the Hollywood world premiere last night. Of Captain Marvel‘s domestic theater count, 3,000 will be 3D locations and she’ll have the full suite of Imax’s 400 hubs, 750+ PLF screens, and 250 D-Box/4D locations. Line-up or go on-line to buy your tickets because previews start at 6pm Thursday in U.S./Canada. Captain Marvel will also have the widest Imax opening of all time on 1,360 screens worldwide, particularly boosted by China. Along with the Middle Kingdom, 3D and PLF screenings will be a major draw in markets like the UK, Korea, Russia, Mexico and Brazil.
In regards to the rest of the world, Captain Marvel takes off tomorrow in majors that include France, Italy and Korea. From there, Carol Danvers adds Germany, Russia, Brazil and Australia on Thursday and essentially all other markets, including the UK, Spain, Mexico and China, on Friday (but not Japan which goes March 15). Industry sources are pegging the offshore opening at anywhere from $180M-$200M with some seeing it at $210M+; a lot of that depends on China. Ant-Man And The Wasp opened at $177M offshoore in like-for-likes and at current rates last July with domestic. After the holiday heft of DC’s Aquaman, nothing has energized fanboys and girls since.
Other overseas opening comps from the Marvel stable include Ant-Man ($115M at today’s rates), Doctor Strange (which France’s TF1 aired on Sunday night, winning the evening) which bowed to $156M in like-for-likes in 2016, and even Black Panther ($228M like-for-like launch).
Wonder Woman is also a standout given both pics are led by a female character and that they each have a period setting; the DC title set during WWI and Captain Marvel during 1990s America. Wonder Woman opened to $125M (unadjusted) in 55 markets that did not include France, Germany, Spain, Japan and others. She finaled at $409M overseas, led by China, Brazil, the UK, Australia and Mexico. Latin America over indexes for DC while it also leans to Marvel. Asia, likewise, is a big Marvel brand region, although we’re cautioned that Captain Marvel could face some softer play than previous pics — sad to say, but that’s given the female protagonist and the period setting.
Regardless, China tracking is hot for Carol Danvers. Pre-sales there at the last count we’ve heard have already surpassed Venom, Aquaman, Captain America: Civil War and all other superhero films save Avengers: Infinity War at the same point. Whereas Wonder Woman finaled at $90.5M in the Middle Kingdom, Captain Marvel is looking at upwards of $85M for just the opening three-day (some industry sources are seeing it lower, around $60M). There is no Douban score yet. Let’s not forget that whichever way domestic reviews go, Venom opened to $107.6M in China.
Turning back to Marvel comps, Doctor Strange’s ultimate offshore cume was $444M with strong participation from China ($112M). After the Middle Kingdom, the biggest markets on the Benedict Cumberbatch standalone were Korea, the UK, Brazil and Russia.
More recently, Spider-Man: Homecoming, also one worth looking at, snared $140.5M (unadjusted) at open in 56 markets which did not include China, Japan, France, Germany and Spain making this a difficult apples-to-apples comparison. Outside Venom, this is the highest of the comps in China where it finaled at $116M after a $69M bow. The rest of the ultimate Top 5 was Korea, the UK, Brazil and Mexico.
As for getting the word out, talent has done some traveling in recent weeks with a European Gala screening held in London on Feb. 28 as well as a Marvel fan event in Singapore on February 14.
Larson further did a full tour of South East Asia and the UK and made an appearance at Brazil ComicCon where a clip was debuted. She later retweeted the unofficial Captain Marvel News’ Twitter feed reporting on a themed street party that kicked off Carnival in Salvador, Brazil:
There was a Global Athlete Challenge that launched with a video of Larson talking about what Higher, Further, Faster means to her, and encouraging other athletes around the world to share their stories as well as participation from a host of international sports folk.
In promotions, an outdoor activation using Kinect camera technology that allowed users to get a taste of wielding Captain Marvel’s binary powers was set up in malls and cinema lobbies in China, Korea, Russia, Mexico and parts of South East Asia. Marvel also recently struck a deal for naming rights of the Docklands Stadium in Australia which has been dubbed Marvel Stadium since September. During the Australian Open, a Captain Marvel banner flew above the venue. During the theatrical campaign, the stadium will have a ‘Wall of Heroes.’
In China, a mall exhibit was set up in four Tier 1 and 2 cities, running from February 16-March 17 with a giant display where visitors are encouraged to contact Captain Marvel to come save the world. And in Mexico, in partnership with Cinepolis, audiences were asked to nominate a hero in their lives with winners selected to attend a special screening. Two winners were also invited to be in a custom video that Cinepolis created to play pre-show and to be shared on social.