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Marvel projects that make it to the big screen tend to be huge successes, and fans have come to expect epic blockbusters out of the movies. Unfortunately, the most recent Marvel project on IMAX simply did not do nearly as well as everybody behind the scenes hoped. A deal was struck that would premiere the first two episodes of Inhumans as an IMAX movie, with IMAX footing the bill for those two episodes to be filmed on IMAX cameras. The underperformance of Inhumans at the box office was disappointing enough that even IMAX has agreed that the theater screenings weren't the best call. IMAX CEO Rich Gelfond had this to say:
Customers expected a production akin to a mega-budget blockbuster movie, rather than pilots for a television show. Moreover, the fact that this was Marvel IP set the bar at a level you wouldn't see from other pieces of content or IP because of the reputation and the high production value of Marvel movies.
Marvel movies tend to be grand blockbusters teeming with special effects and dazzling stunts. Budgets are big and fabulous box office returns are all but guaranteed. The same cannot be said for television. With relatively few exceptions, budgets for TV shows are generally much smaller than for movies, and many lack the cinematic qualities that make for a good big screen movie. TV and film are simply two very different mediums, and Rich Gelfond in his comments to Deadline seems to believe that consumers want blockbusters out of their Marvel ventures, not television pilots. Given that the two episodes of Inhumans were slated to air on ABC for no cost, it's easy to understand why people didn't exactly flock to IMAX theaters to shell out the cash to watch.
Inhumans was originally slated to run for two weeks in IMAX, although some theaters didn't keep it playing for the whole span. All in all, box office totals only reached $3.5 million, and that's not nearly as much as everybody was undoubtedly hoping for. We have to wonder if the number might have been somewhat less disappointing if not for the negative buzz around Inhumans before it even debuted. Critics did not respond positively to early showings of the pilot, and not all Marvel fans were on board with the footage released online prior to the pilot's release.
All things considered, IMAX decision to co-produce Inhumans and debut the pilot on the big screen was an ambitious move that simply didn't pay off, and the odds are that another such collaboration won't be happening any time soon. Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe will still get plenty of superhero action on the big screen, as there are still a number of Marvel movies in the works. The next to debut will be Thor: Ragnarok, which is slated for premiere on November 3 and is expected to do quite well at the box office.
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