As Bleeding Cool reported on Marvel's Inhumans' box office take last weekend, there were some who criticized our negative view of the numbers. Wasn't it expected to have a small box office take, critics of our criticism asked? Didn't it technically do better than a similar Game of Thrones showing during Super Bowl weekend in 2015? Very odd, some called it, that sites were running such negative articles.
We must admit to feeling a tiny bit vindicated when we read an article this week from esteemed Hollywood trade magazine Variety echoing some of our analysis. The article calls Inhumans' box office take "relatively modest," though it does contain praise for IMAX's innovative attempt to drive ticket sales on the worst weekend of an "abysmal summer at the box office." It also notes that the investment from IMAX did make the show profitable for ABC, regardless of whether it does well in the ratings. Ultimately, the article suggests that Inhumans' box office "will do little" to reverse the narrative of bad press the show has been receiving and "could dissuade future such hybrids strategies."
"The fact that they really didn't do that well for IMAX doesn't bode well for other networks copying this strategy and also whether the show will be successful," said veteran media analyst Brad Adgate in Variety's story.
And Variety's analysis makes sense. Unlike the oft-referenced Game of Thrones release, which made $1.4 million in the U.S. compared to Inhumans' $1.5 million, Inhumans' IMAX release was heavily promoted for months and served as the first chance to see the premiere of a brand new series from box office heavyweights Marvel, as opposed to an opportunity to view a season finale in the theater which had already aired on television. The two aren't really comparable, even though their box office takes are sadly similar.
In the short term, Inhumans may have made enough money to cover its production costs. But in the long term, Marvel set high expectations that they were ultimately unable to deliver on, which damages their brand. Inhumans would have been better off if it'd been allowed to be what it is: another TV show in the universe of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that could draw a respectable audience, but isn't going to set the ratings charts — or the box office — on fire. Instead, it's been a months-long PR embarrassment for the company, and it hasn't even debuted on TV yet.