August disappointed in terms of box office performance, and sadly, the Labor Day weekend ended the month with a whimper, not with a bang. There were no major new releases to bolster this struggling month for Hollywood — aside from the poorly-reviewed Tulip Fever and Marvel's most controversial offering to date, Inhumans.
Created by Marvel and ABC in partnership with IMAX, the first two episodes of this television series are being screened at IMAX cinemas worldwide, a first for both studios. So, against this troubled backdrop, just how did #Marvel's latest show perform?
Let's Take A Look At The Numbers
At first glance, the figures for Marvel's Inhumans are painful to read. According to Deadline, the show made only $2.6 million at IMAX cinemas worldwide. Those numbers fall far short of what you'd expect from your typical Marvel release, and fans are seriously disappointed.
Inhumans was facing a difficult task. Fan reaction to trailers and set photos was hardly positive, with a lot of heated debate about Medusa's wigs and poor CGI. Marvel struggled to beat off the criticism, insisting that the CGI was still unfinished. Meanwhile, critical reviews have focused on plot holes and clunky dialogue. While I personally enjoyed the showing, I have to admit that my reaction was probably influenced by a strong familiarity with the comics and a love of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. As such, I suspect I was generally more engaged than your typical audience.
In light of this context, Inhumans' box office performance was actually quite impressive. After all, Inhumans isn't a movie; it's a TV show. Those don't typically release in the box office. In fact, IMAX has only adopted this approach once before.
Two years ago, IMAX released the Season 4 finale of Game of Thrones, which grossed $2 million in a week. Even here, though, the comparison doesn't really work. Those episodes released simultaneously on IMAX and HBO, while Inhumans won't release on ABC until the end of the month. The staggered release has likely led to a very different box office performance which makes it difficult to compare the two shows.
Still, the point stands. There's clearly a precedent that TV releases at the box office don't perform as well as movies, and Inhumans performed better than Game of Thrones. I can't help but suspect that the disappointment over Inhumans' Labor Day weekend release suggests that we had unrealistic expectations in the first place.
A Radical New Approach For IMAX
It's worth noting that Inhumans isn't just the latest Marvel television series; it's also a bold experiment for IMAX. The show was made as part of a revolutionary new partnership, where #IMAX part-funded the production in order to gain global distribution rights. It's an attempt to pilot a new content strategy on IMAX's part, where TV shows pick up the slack at times when the box office is slower.
We don't have any idea how much was spent on the Inhumans production, let alone how much IMAX invested in the show. As a result, it's hard to guess whether IMAX will view Inhumans as a success. I doubt the partnership has quite worked out the way that IMAX hoped it would. After all, nobody wants their TV show to receive the kind of critical reaction that we've seen with Inhumans. The real test will likely be whether or not IMAX continue to push this content strategy, seeking other TV partnerships. If they do, we'll be able to assume they consider this experiment to have been a success.
So, it's a mixed bag for Marvel's Inhumans. The Labor Day weekend didn't bring in the numbers that fans were hoping, but that may actually just reflect unrealistic expectations. We only have one data-point to compare Inhumans against, Game of Thrones Season 4, and it beat that. We'll likely be able to interpret these numbers with a bit more confidence when Inhumans airs on ABC on September 29th.
Did you watch 'Inhumans' at IMAX this weekend?