Marvel Studios’ president Kevin Feige admitted to being in a state of worry over the pandemic's impact on the MCU’s movies.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, just about everyone and everything was entirely upended. With much of the planet’s population rendered unable to go anywhere, recreational activities such as going to the movies took a nosedive.
And Marvel was certainly not exempt from this drop-off. 2020 was the first year in over a decade that the blockbuster studio didn't release any new MCU content, leaving much of its slate pushed back on the calendar.
Of course, the MCU came back in a big way the next year with over eight projects released between cinemas and Disney+. But that stretch of time in 2020, as it turned out, didn’t do wonders for Feige’s stress level.
Feige Was “Very Worried” About Future of Movies
Speaking to The Movie Business Podcast, Marvel chief creative officer and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige spoke on his pandemic-fueled anxiety that the moviegoing experience would suffer long-term negative impacts from COVID-19:
“I think that– you know… a couple of years ago, when we were in the heat of the pandemic, I was very worried, as we all were about the state of the world, about the future of civilization, and about the future of the movie business, and specifically the theatrical side of the business. Because I do believe that you can make incredible things that are meant to be seen in the comfort of your own home and tell a great a story as any.”
Feige continued, emphasizing the “cultural crossover” brought forth by sitting in a movie theater auditorium and taking in a feature film with others from all walks of life:
“But I also think nothing beats the shared experience of being in a theater with hundreds of strangers experiencing something. And I think in today’s world, it is more important than ever to have some cultural crossover amongst different types of people to live in a shared experience together. And nothing does that better than the theatrical experience.“
In 2021, audiences were polled on whether they’d prefer to watch Black Widow in the theater or at home. The results indicated that roughly two-thirds of the poll respondents would much rather catch the movie at the cinema. Amongst many of the 2021 big-screen blockbusters, Widow scored the highest as the film moviegoers most wanted to see in theaters, clearly showing the appetite fans had for the theatrical experience.
Do Marvel Movies Belong at the Theater?
It’s been established that Feige is a firm believer in the notion that big-budget blockbuster films should be first seen at the theater. In fact, word got out that he was upset over Black Widow simultaneously releasing on Disney+ alongside the movie’s theatrical debut, albeit as a premium add-on.
Also of note is that Marvel Studios has had consistently good box office returns since 2021, even without the juggernaut market of China in their corner.
It’s clear to see that fans (and Marvel itself) love when these movies can be viewed on the big screen, to the point where many would likely be extremely upset if Marvel were to hypothetically vacate theaters for whatever reason and stick to Disney+ releases.
After all, the MCU’s Phase 4 introduced series and Special Presentations that carry the story forward on the streaming platform, enabling Marvel to cover more ground, narratively speaking, and leaving the features side of things to keep trucking along.
Marvel Studios’ next surefire blockbuster Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is set to hit theaters in less than a month on Friday, February 17.