At the time of writing, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has been the number one movie at the box office for the last four weeks, securing that title with a global box office total of $738 million USD thus far.
And while some have been quick to point to these earnings as evidence that the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s latest outing was a financial success, an alleged leak from a supposed Disney insider suggests that these results mean nothing in light of the film’s massive price tag.
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With a production budget of $250 million dollars, Wakanda Forever is the third most expensive MCU film to date, tying Thor: Love and Thunder and coming in behind Avengers: Age of Ultron ($365 million) and Avengers: Endgame ($356 Million).
In light of the rule of thumb for estimating a typical Hollywood marketing costs involves simply doubling a given film’s production budget, Wakanda Forever was assumed to have a break even point of roughly $500 million
However, it seems this mark may actually be much, much higher.
During a livestream held on the afternoon of December 9th, entertainment analysts WDW Pro and Valliant Renegade reported that, as per a supposed trusted source within Disney, the company was approaching a 1:1 spending ratio between the film’s production budget and its actual marketing.
In other words, Disney is closing in on having spent a total of $250 million spent marketing Wakanda Forever, thus bringing the film’s full budget to $500 million. Applying the aforementioned simple calculation, and the film’s budget clocks in closer to $1 billion.
"Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" Marketing Budget Is HUGE
Can the movie break even after a source near Disney leaked exclusively to us that the marketing budget is massive? The alleged leak says Disney pulled Strange World / Lightyear promo $$$ for Wakanda!
Ft: @ValliantRenegad pic.twitter.com/sFffYp4DXG
— wdwpro (@wdwpro1) December 9, 2022
Further, the source noted that Disney’s licensing executives want the film to hit the $950 million milestone at the worldwide box office ($900 million at worst) in order to allow them to run with the narrative that both Black Panther films performed with the billion-dollar range.
The insider also claimed that, in order to pay for Wakanda Forever‘s bloated marketing campaigns, Disney pulled unused marketing funds originally allocated to recent animated flops Strange World and Pixar’s Lightyear.
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Unfortunately for the House of Mouse, it looks like their gamble on Wakanda Forever may have failed.
According to the insider, the act of moving money away from the company’s animated projects – particularly a big-budget Pixar film – was considered a major failure, as many within Disney now feel that the title of ‘Hollywood’s top animation studio’ is now up for grabs.
Further, as explained by Valliant Renegade based on the insider’s information, Wakanda Forever could end up losing about $140 million if it doesn’t hit the billion dollar milestone – which it likely won’t.
Last week, a separate rumor first reported on by The Cosmic Circus claimed that Disney and Marvel are looking to change their release lineup for MCU Phases 5 and Phase 6 due to internal concerns over the abysmal quality of Phase 4.
“As Phase 4 comes to a close, we’ve been informed of internal negative feedback about how Phase 4 was handled regarding product distribution and quality,” wrote the outlet, as per information provided to them by their own insider source. “This has led to fear that Phases 5 and 6 are headed in the same direction as Phase 4.”
“Therefore, as a preventive measure to ensure quality control, Marvel and Disney are now re-evaluating future releases,” The Cosmic Circus’ source added. “Moving forward, they are interested in pushing a quality-over-quantity approach to these phases as a way to address the issues some audiences have had with Phase 4.”
To this end, multiple sources reportedly told the outlet to ” expect shifts in release schedules for some projects, changes in media formats for others, and in the most extreme (and unlikely) of cases, a postponement or outright cancellation of a project that would not be suited towards the overall story of the Multiverse Saga.”
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Though just a rumor, if this sort of shake-up were to happen, it wouldn’t be surprising.
Not only has every subsequent project shown just how far the franchise’s quality has declined since Endgame, but the only Phase 4 film to actually reach the billion-dollar mark was last year’s Spider-Man: No Way Home – and technically that was a Sony Production.
Even when banking heavily on a gimmick, Phase 4’s final three films couldn’t reach the same global box office heights as the web-slinger.
Though it featured a tie-in to WandaVision and a bevy of cameos in the form of the Illuminati, May’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness fell just short with $956 million dollars.
Next up was Thor: Love and Thunder, which, despite heavily promoting itself on both Natalie Portman’s return to the MCU and her taking up of Mjolnir, only grossed $761 million – almost a $100 million less than the God of Thunder’s previous solo film, 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok.
Finally, putting an abrupt cap on the entire middling Phase was the supposed ‘tribute to Chadwick Boseman’s death’ known as Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, which is currently pacing about $600 million behind its predecessor despite inflation contributing to a raise in ticket prices.
At current, Marvel Studios is likely banking huge on 2023’s Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, with its official introduction of actor Jonathan Majors as the Avenger’s next mega villain Kang the Conqueror, to be a smash hit.
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