The universe belongs to Marvel.
Avengers: Endgame shattered the record for biggest opening weekend with an estimated US$350mil in ticket sales domestically and US$1.2bil globally, reaching a new pinnacle in the blockbuster era that the comic-book studio has come to dominate. (Read our review here.)
The Avengers finale far exceeded even its own gargantuan expectations, according to studio estimates Sunday. The movie had been forecast to open between US$260 million and US$300 million in U.S. and Canadian cinemas, but moviegoers turned out in such droves that Endgame blew past the previous record of US$257.7mil, set last year by Avengers: Infinity War when it narrowly surpassed Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (US$248mil or about US$266 mil in inflation adjusted dollars.)
Endgame was just as enormous overseas. Worldwide, it obliterated the previous record of US$640.5 million, also set by Infinity War. (“Infinity War” didn’t open in China, the world’s second largest movie market, until two weeks after its debut.) Endgame set a new weekend record in China, too, where it made $330.5 million.
In one fell swoop, Endgame has already made more than movies like Skyfall, Aquaman and The Dark Knight Rises grossed in their entire runs, not accounting for inflation.
Alan Horn, Disney chairman, credited Marvel Studios and its president, Kevin Feige, for challenging “notions of what is possible at the movie theatre.”
“This weekend’s monumental success is a testament to the world they’ve envisioned, the talent involved, and their collective passion, matched by the irrepressible enthusiasm of fans around the world,” Horn said in a statement.
To accommodate demand, the Walt Disney Co. released Endgame in more theatres – 4,662 in the U.S. and Canada – than any opening before. Advance ticketing services set new records. Early ticket buyers crashed AMC’s website. And starting Thursday, some theatres even stayed open 72 hours straight.
“We’ve got some really tired staff,” said John Fithian, president and chief executive of the National Association of Theatre Owners. “I talked to an exhibitor in Kansas who said, ‘I’ve never sold out a 7 a.m. show on Saturday morning before,’ and they were doing it all across their circuit.”
Not working in the film’s favour was its lengthy running time: 181 minutes. But theatres kept added thousands of showings for Endgame to get it on more screens than any movie before to satiate the frenzy around Endgame. Joe and Anthony Russo’s film ties together the Avengers storyline as well as the previous 21 releases of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, begun with 2008′s Iron Man.
Further boosting the results for Endgame were good reviews; it currently ranks as 96% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, the best rating for any Marvel movie aside from Black Panther. Audiences gave the film an A-plus CinemaScore.
But if there was any shadow to the weekend for the theatrical business, it was in just how reliant theatres have grown on one studio: Disney.
Disney now holds all but one of the top 12 box-office openings of all time. (Universal’s Jurassic World is the lone exception.) The studio is poised for a record-breaking year, with releases including Aladdin, Toy Story 4, The Lion King, Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker and Frozen 2 on the horizon.
Following its acquisition of 20th Century Fox, Disney is expected to account for at least 40% of domestic box-office revenue in 2019, a new record of market share. The company’s Captain Marvel – positioned as a kind of Marvel lead-in to Endgame – also rose to No. 2 on the weekend, eight weeks after it opened. (The 22 films of the MCU have collectively earned US$19.9bil at the box office.)
No other new wide release dared to open against Endgame. Warner Bros.′ The Curse Of La Llorona, last week’s top movie, slid to third with US$7.5mil.
The guessing game will now shift to just how much higher Endgame can go. Given its start, it’s likely to rival the top three worldwide grossers: The Force Awakens (US$2.068bil in 2015), Titanic (US$2.187bil in 1997) and Avatar (US$2.788 in 2009). – AP