Analyzing the Post-Endgame MCU Box Office

What’s up, Geeks + Games? It’s ODIN!

There is no doubt that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a shadow of its former self, with the 2023 releases accounting for some of the biggest box office bombs of any studio that year. Not only does Disney clearly overspend on the budgets and marketing for each of their films across various IPs, but they have also lost the creative edge and brilliance that defined the Disney brand for most of the 100 years of its existence. When looking closer into their financials, however, this problem becomes even more dire, and the reality sinks in that the MCU has been running at a loss for multiple years now. One caveat is that the following numbers do not include the Sony/Marvel Spider-Man films, as they add more financial splits into the equation.

Random Crazy Charting

Before diving into something I call “random crazy charting,” I thought it would be a good idea to break down the numbers of the concept. As I have mentioned in previous articles, the typical break-even point for a movie is between 2.5 to 3 times its budget due to additional marketing costs that the budgets don’t account for and the fact that the studio splits the money with the theaters. In my basic charting, I track films using a 2.5 multiplier, but in my “random crazy charting,” I use the following metrics for what the studios get: 55% of the domestic box office, 40% of the international box office, and 25% of China’s box office. Obviously, the international box office includes all countries other than China, and many films never get a China release. Once these have been calculated, the total cost (budget x1.5) is subtracted, and we get the net gains or losses for a given film. Though this method is likely much more accurate, my brain can only handle so many chart columns. With that out of the way, let’s have some fun.

No Money Since Endgame?

Even for those that remain loyal fans of the modern MCU, if one was honest. they would admit that there hasn’t been a huge box office hit for Marvel since Avengers: Endgame back in 2019. In fact, if we look at the numbers and what the studios typically split with the theaters, only two of their last nine MCU films made any profit, and in both cases, there is reason to doubt whether they actually made money. The first film that technically made a profit was Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2021), which had a reported budget of $250 million and made $853,985,546 at the global box office. When looking at the most likely theater/studio splits, the film likely only made $32,307,577 in net profit, unless the marketing was much higher than indicated, as has been reported by box office analysts Valliant Renegade and WDW Pro. The second film to make any money since Endgame was the 2023 release Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3. With an estimated budget of $250,000,000, the film made $845,468,744 globally. Once again using “random crazy charting,” Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3 only had a net gain of $3,997,189. Even with this film, however, there has been speculation that the budget and marketing costs are likely higher than what has been reported, but nothing has been confirmed as of the writing of this article.

Over $200 Million in Losses with Endgame’s Profits?

Even if the numbers for Wakanda Forever and Guardians 3 end up being worse than initially reported, it will not change the fact that the MCU’s profits since 2019 have been abysmal. Since 2019 (including the release of Captain Marvel), Disney has spent roughly $4,088,250,000 on reported budgets and typical marketing costs. Adding all of the gains and losses together since 2019 results in only $12,828,892 in net profits. Keep in mind that this includes roughly $615,955,864 from Endgame and $230,284,913 from Captain Marvel. If we take only the numbers since and including Endgame, the total losses stand at around $217 million. For a studio to have spent either $3.8 billion and lose over $200 million or to have spent $4 billion and only make $12 million in profits is a clear sign that the franchise has been in free fall since 2019 and has four years of data indicating a failure to justify the continuation of the MCU. Of course, that these numbers do not include potential revenue from all post-theatrical releases, merchandise, or other revenue streams. One cannot ignore, however, that for a franchise not tobe making enough money to justify paying for future installments is completely unsustainable and merits an investigation by anyone financially invested in Disney stock.

Why do the Profits Matter?

One of the questions I often get is why I even care about the financial viability of a superhero movie franchise. While I get their general point, this is something that has fascinated me ever since I started to go down the rabbit hole in 2018. Practically speaking, I think it’s important for everyday people to have a better grasp of how the industry works and how much of this can and should impact the movies we’ll get in the future. A great example of how important these numbers can be is the recent success of Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. Movie. With Nintendo and Universal only spending $100 million on the budget and making $1.3 billion worldwide, they saw roughly $477,848,785 in net profit. Not only did they get all of their money back, but they made enough to fund both the production and marketing for another 2-4 movies. This clearly helps them to establish a brand new franchise that can take them many years into the future. For fans of the film and the direction the studios involved seem to be going, this information can give them a sense of hope in their upcoming projects and whether they should be worth investing their time and money in.

Conclusion

Whether you came to this article to laugh at the financial failures of Disney or because you wanted to know a bit more about how the MCU ended up in its current state, I hope you’ve come away with a better understanding of how much trouble the MCU is in financially. Looking ahead to future projects, with their various delays and production issues, seems to indicate that these problems will not be ending anytime soon. Please check out my channel HERE, where I will continue to follow the money and do my best to keep exposing the rot in mainstream box office analysis. God bless!

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