Disney's movie business under siege as Marvel actor Jonathan Majors heads to trial
Disney’s movie business is reeling — and it risks yet another blow as Marvel actor Jonathan Majors starts his domestic violence case in Manhattan Criminal Court Wednesday.
The 34-year-old “Loki” actor faces charges that he allegedly assaulted his ex-girlfriend, Grace Jabbari, in a March dispute in New York City.
While the actor haspleaded not guiltyto charges of assault and aggravated harassment, the timing couldn’t be worse for Disney, which hasn’t struggled to return to its post-pandemic box office glory.
The lucrative Marvel studio, which is known for churning out blockbuster hits like the “Iron Man” franchise and the wildly successful Avengers: Endgame” that reeled in a whopping $2.8 billion at the box office, has been plagued by a recent spate of box office flops.
The studio’s latest flick, “The Marvels,” which opened on Nov. 10, opened with just $47 million in ticket sales, according to studio estimates.
Variety reported that “The Marvels,” which cost $250 million and sees Brie Larson reprising her role as Captain Marvel, is tracking to open to $75 million-$80 million far below the $185 million Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness took in domestically in its debut weekend last year.
David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Research Entertainment, called it an unprecedented Marvel box-office collapse.
The previous low for a Marvel movie was Ant-Man, which bowed at $57.2 million in 2015.
Critics blamed the pandemic, which not only halted movie-going but also caused Disney to put its Marvel movies on streaming service Disney+, for the change in viewing habits.
Others also called out the grueling schedule that Marvel VFX artists have endured since the pandemic ended by Disney execs who want the cash cow to return to bringing in the big bucks.
Fed up with 14-hour days and no overtime, Marvel VFX workers voted unanimously to unionize in September, sparking an industrywide trend, Variety reported.
Disney execs, including boss Bob Iger, have been “apoplectic” about Marvel’s woes, the publication said.
Earlier this year, Marvel’s “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” starring Majors also proved to be a box office flop grossing $476.1 million worldwide, and became one of the few Marvel flicks to not break even, Variety reported.
The report noted that the movie had a strong start when it debuted on Feb. 17 but fizzled at the box office. Perhaps audiences were turned off by news of Majors’ arrest a month later for allegedly assaulting Jabari inside a private car in Chelsea.
Although Majors’ legal woes and the “Quantumania” flop have worried execs inside Disney, the company has more or less stood by the troubled actor.
The “Creed III” actor has been slated to become the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s overarching new villain, Kang the Conqueror, and he currently remains signed to appear as the supervillain in “Avengers: The Kang Dynasty” in 2026 and “Avengers: Secret Wars” in 2027.
While Majors currently retains his high-profile role with Disney, the Mouse House may be souring on the actor. Newsweek reported that Disney has removed the previously much-hyped Searchlight film “Magazine Dreams,” starring Majors, from its release schedule.
Disney did not return requests seeking comment about whether it will continue to stick by the actor.
Meanwhile, others have peeled away from Majors, who, if convicted on all of the counts hes facing, could spend up to a year in jail.
Following his arrest, Majors was dropped by his publicists, the Lede Company, and management, Entertainment 360, as well as the withdrawal of invites to events, according to Newsweek.
Talent agency CAA also reportedly dropped Majors before his arrest for “brutal conduct” towards its staff, Variety reported in a story detailing Marvel’s issues related to the actor and problems at the studio.