Iman Vellani, Brie Larson and Teyonah Parris in "The Marvels"
CNN  — 

“The Marvels” finished No. 1 at the box office in its opening weekend but grossed just $47 million in domestic sales, according to studio estimates on Sunday.

According to data from Comscore, the latest Marvel project is also the studio’s lowest-performing one. It finished below 2008’s “The Incredible Hulk,” the previous record-holder, which opened at just over $55 million.

But the Marvel Cinematic Universe was still finding its footing in the late aughts and, since then, Marvel projects have amassed a robust fan base and raked in historic numbers at the box office. In fact, “The Marvels” is only the third Marvel movie to make less than $60 million during its opening weekend, and the first since “Ant-Man” opened with $57 million in 2015.

“Marvel has historically seen most of its films benefit from goodwill and the rolling nature of anticipation from chapter to chapter help bolster successive box office performances,” said BoxOffice Pro chief analyst Shawn Robbins. “In a post-Infinity Saga world, though, their own standards mean audiences have higher and higher expectations.”

Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore, said the movie’s performance can serve as a moment of reckoning and reflection for the superhero genre.

“It may be time to take stock and learn lessons from other genres (such as horror) and some of the notable risk-taking superhero films (Logan, Deadpool, even Joker) that enjoyed both critical and financial success,” Dergarabedian said. “It may be not so much superhero fatigue, but more an issue of audiences who are looking for a more unique take on this tried-and-true genre.”

The movie also tries to build on storylines and characters from the slew of Marvel television offshoots and miniseries on Disney+, such as “WandaVision” and “Ms. Marvel.” The catalog of shows, which Disney+ began churning out in 2020, “have backfired on the goal to expand the brand,” said Robbins.

The lackluster opening weekend numbers for “The Marvels” are also symptomatic of overarching studio challenges in recent years, say experts. Combined with “mixed reception toward several of (Marvel’s) most highly-touted films in the last few years …and a stunted introduction to the multiverse storyline,” the saturation of the MCU has “(diminished) the level of urgency audiences once felt for the franchise,” Robbins added.

Marvel’s November offering last year, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” which was also a sequel to an Infinity-Saga-era film, made nearly four times the domestic opening weekend earnings as “The Marvels” with more than $181.3 million.

This weekend’s second-strongest showing was “Five Nights at Freddy’s” with $9 million, ending its second week with an estimated cumulative earning of about $127 million. However, the video-game-based movie is also available online for Peacock subscribers, and streaming may siphon off some moviegoers.

“Today’s audiences who have myriad options on screens big and small for their entertainment … are looking for something unique, edgy, or simply so well written and flat out entertaining that they can’t resist heading out to the multiplex,” said Dergarabedian.