Marvel’s Inhumans finally debuted in IMAX theaters over the weekend, following weeks of bad press and reviews. But prior to that, Marvel TV head Jeph “Jeff” Loeb gave an interview to CBR about the show in which he seemed a tad bit defensive when asked how the version debuting in IMAX was different than the one shown to critics at the TCAs:
“It is and it isn’t. I was talking to somebody earlier today and said if I were to show you an orchestra and the strings weren’t there and we played the music and you went, ‘OK, I get it.’ Yeah, you get it, but you haven’t heard the strings, and so when that happens the emotion of that, the movement of that, and one of the things that we talked about today is that it isn’t just visual, it actually is part of the ongoing structure of the story.
So if you’re watching a scene, and then all of a sudden you pull out and you’re looking over the cityscape of Attilan and that cityscape is not done you’re immediately out of the story. So whatever emotional hook you were on, you’re now out of it. Or let’s say you’re not hooked and now you’ve got something else that doesn’t work for you, you’ve now got two more reasons that you’re going along the way. Is this the perfect way for us to be able to show something, particularly of something that we respect as much as TCAs? No. But it was the general consensus amongst everybody that it was better to get it out there.”
“First of all, the two hours really are of a piece. It ends in a way without spoiling anything that it is really important to watch the next hour in order to understand particularly where the show is going.
So to only look at the first literally 40-some-odd minutes and go, ‘OK, I get it.’ It’s a little bit like saying, ‘OK, I took you to a murder scene, I showed you the body and now we’re going to stop.’ You’re not going to meet the cop, you’re not going to get to understand the real thrust and the power of the show, because it isn’t about just two brothers who were fighting for the power because that balance is tipped in the very first hour.
The reality is that the show is how you live on Earth with humanity when it’s being seen from the point of view of Inhumanity and for us, one of the touchstones was we talk a lot about Starman which is a film that’s now 20 years old or something, probably more than that, and it isn’t often that you get to see our world as seen from the point of view of the alien. As opposed to seeing our world from the point of view of us that’s encountering the alien, and being able to watch how each member of our cast encounters a different person along the way and sees what that world is like. For us, that is really what the show’s about.”
For Loeb, the IMAX release would bring vindication:
“We’re just looking forward to when that shows premieres in IMAX, because people will really have a sense of how big it is, what the scope is like, but also where the show is going and where the thrust of the show is going.”
Inhumans came in dead last amongst 25 releases this weekend in terms of box office take, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing on its own. The show wasn’t expected to make a lot of money. The goal was to reverse the damage from bad press, and get the hype for the show back on track. Unfortunately, the IMAX release was panned by fans as well, earning a negative audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. The positive word of mouth to offset the critical reviews wasn’t found, which bodes poorly for the show’s TV debut.
Back in the interview, when asked if Marvel TV would collaborate with IMAX in the future, Loeb took the opportunity to continue to explain away the trouble with Inhumans:
“I can’t speak to things that are being worked on, I can only tell you that our partnership with IMAX, particularly with Greg Foster has been nothing short of extraordinary. This was their idea. They looked at the landscape.
I don’t think people know this, but there are certain weekends of the year. One of them happens to be, if you’re in America, Labor Day weekend, where IMAX theaters are dark and there is no IMAX film that is playing during that time. Even if Dunkirk is Dunkirk, by the time it gets to Labor Day it’s not going to be in the theater anymore and so they came to us and said, “We really want to try to create something that is a television experience, but bringing it on to an IMAX screen.”
We’re not in any way saying that we made an IMAX film, we’re not in any way saying that this is a movie. This is a premiere of a television series that was shot with IMAX cameras and will be presented in an IMAX epic way of doing things, but it’s not fair to process when you think about it that if someone is going to compare us to Dunkirk, which is a $200 million movie and we’re a television show.”
And finally, he ties it all in with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Marvel’s other ABC TV show:
“But look, we lived through this when Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D first came on the air and everyone said, “Well, where’s Iron Man?” And we said, “Iron man’s is not going to be on this show. In fact, he’s never going to be on the show. Nor is the Hulk. They’re not coming by, guys.” We’re making a television show, so the idea of being able to present ourselves in this tremendous arena is very exciting for us, and obviously if it’s successful we would love to continue. But that’s really as much IMAX’s call as it is anything else. They invited us in to their house. We think that we served a gourmet meal and we certainly hope that they ask us back. We like dating them.”
It’s worth noting, though, that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. debuted with over 12 million viewers, but now averages a little over 2 million, and is regularly beat by CW superhero shows. Once viewers realized “Iron Man is not going to be on this show. In fact, he’s never going to be on the show,” they tuned out. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has shed 85% of its viewers.
Marvel’s Inhumans debuts on TV on September 29th, and it will do so without the positive word of mouth Marvel was hoping the IMAX premiere would gain it, and to an audience that has already been taught to be cautious of Marvel’s ABC TV shows. When it does debut, we’ll find out just how much damage the negative press has done.