The CEO of IMAX admits that screening Inhumans in theaters was a poorly-executed move. The prospect of Inhumans was tricky even when it was planned to be overseen by Kevin Feige as a movie starring Vin Diesel. The characters have a great deal of backstory and even in the comics don’t have a sizable audience. Without a comedic hook like Guardians of the Galaxy, there was no telling how well the Inhumans film would have done. Still, it would have had the signature Marvel touch and likely a strong director and cast attached. That all changed when Inhumans was transformed into a TV show.
After ABC landed the series, Inhumans gained a co-producer in IMAX, which decided to play the first two episodes of the show in their theaters. The initiative sounded interesting, pairing the large format innovators with the Marvel name. Sadly, the final result was a lackluster affair that failed to drive much business towards IMAX screens. Now, the head of the company has spoken out about the decision and what he thinks went wrong.
Deadline talked with IMAX CEO Rich Gelfond about what went wrong with Inhumans, offering the first concrete explanation of the show’s failure from someone inside the series. While Gelfond didn’t discuss the merits of Inhumans as a television show, he did admit that their failure to match audience expectations led to the unsuccessful screenings:
“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.”
Gelfond really hits the nail on the head, noting that the lack of Marvel’s usual quality and the lower budget of the series led to it not proving appealing to fans. Even Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter managed to make their TV show budgets look good on the small screen, with the former employing veteran TV directors like Kevin Tancharoen and Wendy Stanzler and that latter pulling over some of Marvel’s film producers. Both shows also featured established leads, something Inhumans lacked.
Of course, the quality of Inhumans also hurt its chances. Critics laid into the series, with Inhumans receiving some truly brutal reviews. Things haven’t gotten better either, as Inhumans ratings are lower than ever. Meanwhile, producers like Jeph Loeb have flat-out refused to acknowledge the show’s failure. Even Kevin Feige has dodged Inhumans questions, proving that no one is willing to go to bat for the series. While Gelfond is no different in that regard, at least he offered a solid reason for why Inhumans failed to land on IMAX screens.
UPDATE: It has since been reported (via Market Watch) that Inhumans lost IMAX a staggering $11.1 million. How much they invested in the show itself and the subsequent theatical release is still unknown.