Cassie Lang (Kathryn Newton) and Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) in “Ant-Man and the Wasp in Quantumania.”
After a fourth Thor movie and a third standalone Ant-Man film, even Disney CEO Bob Iger wants something new out Marvel.
“Sequels typically worked well for us,” Iger said during the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom Conference on Thursday. “Do you need a third and a fourth for instance? Or is it time to turn to other characters?”
His comments come on the heels of the disappointing box office performance of “Ant-Man and the Wasp in Quantumania.” As of Sunday, the film, which has been in theaters for three weeks, has tallied just $420 million globally.
Domestically, the movie has floundered with $187 million in total ticket sales after premiering with a $104 million opening weekend. While that outpaces the total gross of the first Ant-Man’s domestic box office in 2015, it’s a sharp fall from pre-pandemic averages. Especially, considering the film features the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s next big villain, Kang.
“There’s nothing in any way inherently off in terms of the Marvel brand,” Iger said. “I think we just have to look at what characters and stories we’re mining, and you look at the trajectory of Marvel over the next five years, you’ll see a lot of newness. We’re going to turn back to the Avengers franchise, but with a whole different set of Avengers.”
Iger’s remarks come as he orchestrates a broad restructuring of the company, with an eye on slashing $5.5 billion in costs – with $3 billion of that coming from content.
Disney has been releasing new content from the MCU at a somewhat frenetic pace over the past few years. The company has used streaming service Disney+ as a vehicle to introduce new characters — Moon Knight, Ms. Marvel, She-Hulk — as well as to more deeply explore legacy characters (Loki, Falcon, the Winter Soldier) between theatrical releases.
As the MCU grows, some have rallied behind the franchise, excited for new entrants and content. Others have found the required viewing of additional series to be arduous and wonder if Disney should slow down its rate of releases.
The company’s breakneck pace of content distribution has also put a lot of pressure on visual effects groups tasked with turning green screen action sequences into a feast for the eyes. The increased output from the studio has exacerbated production woes these third parties faced in the wake of shutdowns due to the pandemic. The result has been some criticism about underwhelming superpower effects or slapdash CGI backgrounds that appear muddled.
Marvel has begun spreading out its releases. After “Quantumania” in February, the studio will release “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” in May and has postponed “The Marvels,” previously set for July, until November.
Additionally, the amount of time between Disney+ Marvel series has grown. A new Marvel series has not debuted since the final episodes of “She-Hulk” launched in early October. “Secret Invasion” and season 2 of “Loki” are next on the list, but Disney has not provided release dates for either as of yet.
“There are a lot more stories to tell,” Iger said Thursday.
(With inputs from CNBC)