What Marvel’s ‘Inhumans’ IMAX Performance Means for ABC Series

What Marvel's 'Inhumans' IMAX Box Office

Audiences got their first look at Marvel Television’s upcoming ABC series “Inhumans” over the Labor Day weekend, though not on TV. But soft numbers at the feature-film box office are not an encouraging sign for how the show will perform on TV.

As part of a unique production partnership, Marvel, ABC Studios, and IMAX mounted a theatrical release for the first two episodes of the superhero-action drama. Over the weekend, the 84-minute “Inhumans” feature earned an estimated $2.6 million across 676 IMAX screens worldwide, including $1.5 million via 393 IMAX screens in North America. That tally is relatively modest. But given that the holiday weekend saw no new wide U.S. releases from studios and capped an abysmal summer at the box office, IMAX is getting credit for taking a swing.

“My hat was off to any distributor that released something at least new and innovative and different on this very slow Labor Day weekend,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at ComScore. “At least IMAX looked at the marketplace, saw an opportunity and did [something] for the fans. To me, that’s a winning strategy.”

Marvel, ABC, and IMAX announced the greenlight for “Inhumans” last November as a joint production that would see IMAX share costs with the Disney division, then premiere the first two episodes exclusively ahead of the show’s fall premiere on ABC. (The episodes air back-to-back Sept. 29 on ABC with several minutes of additional footage not seen in the IMAX feature included.)

Such crossovers between television and theatrical film are rare. When the “Game of Thrones” season four finale screened in IMAX theaters over Super Bowl weekend in 2015, it drew $1.4 million in the U.S. — a shade less than the “Inhumans” premiere.

Thanks to the investment from IMAX, Disney divisions Marvel and ABC consider the show effectively paid for, regardless of its performance on broadcast, where it will air on Friday nights. But the trailers for series and clips screened this summer at Comic-Con have fueled negative early buzz for the series.

Speaking at the Television Critics Association press tour in August, ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey warned reporters that the premiere episode that had been made available for them to view was not a complete project. “I think that the episode that you guys have seen is still a bit of a work in progress,” Dungey said. “We are still a month away from final air, but I do feel like there’s great opportunity there as well.”

ABC sources tell Variety that concerns over quality of “Inhumans” episodes — both the special effects of early cuts and the underpinning scripts — were a source of contention between ABC and Marvel. The IMAX box-office numbers will do little to reverse that narrative, and could dissuade future such hybrid 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.



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  1. The idea isn’t bad, the execution was. The stuff says ‘shot in IMAX’. Which to me should look Christopher Nolan…this looks like it was a comic book attempt pre-iron man. Plus, I respect some of these actors, but they look like they’re making faces that say ‘…and visual effects go!’ Like this just LOOKS bad, plain and simple. If a Game of Thrones took IMAX cameras and shot content, and then IMAX released same as air date and time…then you have a winner.

  2. David says:

    Im offended to this moron saying what FOX is doing to the Fantastic Four again is smart. Those two movies will bomb fans are tired of FOX & Fantastic Four. The fans will rally together & make sure any Fantastic Four movie(s) by FOX bomb until the MCU gets them

  3. Adam Bear says:

    I think these imax figures are more accurately a reflection of a poor business strategy, or at least one where the respective stakeholders investments are really trying to achieve very different things for each of them. More room to move for Marvel & ABC giving the show more episodes to find its rhythm and Imax gets to strengthen further the bond with Marvel and their long term strategic goals.

    As a fan of Marvel Studios and everything they have done to date, I’m really just an interested onlooker of the Inhumans series.. For me here in Australia, where an Imax ticket is roughly $35AUD, at not stage did I consider buying a ticket to the premier of a show based for an IP I’m mostly unsure about already. Especially when its only a 3 week wait for the actual premiere episodes… Which have been marketed as having content in them that is not in the Imax episodes.

    For me that goes against the Imax feature film strategy, of offering more at imax than other counterparts; whether that be bigger sound, more screen, imax filmed sequences etc. Less content is the ultimate deal breaker.

    That being said I’m confident this show will gain traction and a following , especially if they give it second season regardless of ratings from the first. Marvel’s Agents of Shield took a little while to find its flow, but it was given the time and scope to and in recent seasons is just going from strength to strength. Season 4 was fantastic… Lightyears ahead of anything else in the genre.

  4. Tom B says:

    It would have helped if they released it to more Imax type screens. For me to see it, I would have had to travel 50 miles. The results are not a good indicator of how it would have done.

    • Rex the Wonder Dog says:

      Why, so more theaters would be forced to run a movie to almost empty theaters? I’m sure they would rather run Wonder Woman, a movie people are actually watching.

  5. Fernando says:

    There are so many great Marvel series, why did they have to pick this cardboard-set-dressed uninteresting yawn-trailer doa series?

    • Fernando says:

      And besides, everyone hates characters played by Iwan Rheon since his work on GoT, especially playing the bad guy. Why didn’t the casting director get that? Yeah, let’s project all that hate onto our new unreleased series. Brilliant idea.

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