Avengers record sets up weekend bonanza, topping Star Wars

General atmosphere at the ‘Avengers: Endgame’ Canadian Premiere at Scotiabank Theatre on April 24, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Bloomberg/Getty pic)

LOS ANGELES: The Avengers have an early edge over The Force.

Avengers: Endgame took in a domestic record of US$60 million in Thursday night preview shows, setting up what will probably be an all-time high opening this weekend. The day’s previous record was held by Star Wars: The Force Awakens, also part of the Disney stable, which earned US$57 million from Thursday previews in 2015.

Faster than the Milano on its way to Xandar with Korath the Pursuer hot on its trail, Endgame has already set a US$107 million record for single-day ticket sales in China, where it opened Wednesday. The film spread to 4,662 US and Canada theatre screens Friday, another industry record. Outside the US and Canada, the film has grossed about US$305 million in its first two days.

The picture, the latest instalment from Walt Disney Co’s Marvel studio, caps a 22-movie storyline that began with “Iron Man” in 2008. The Avengers superheroes, including Captain America, Hulk and Black Widow, are now battling the intergalactic villain Thanos, who was last seen wiping out half the living creatures in the universe.

Estimates for the weekend grosses in the US and Canada run as high as US$320 million, according to Box Office Pro and Box Office Mojo. Exhibitor Relations puts the three-day number at US$295 million, while the Hollywood Stock Exchange predicts US$292 million. Disney itself, which is usually cautious with forecasts, suggested an opening weekend in the $300 million range on Friday.

Anything above US$258 million will set the record, one established just last year by Marvel’s earlier installment: Avengers: Infinity War.

What Bloomberg Intelligence Says

“The US$60 million taken in from Thursday night previews is the highest ever, and suggests a domestic tally of more than US$800 million, with a potential to break US$2.5 billion globally. That could also help movie theatres get a boost, potentially offsetting the 17% slump year-to-date.”

– Geetha Ranganathan, senior industry analyst Click here to view the piece

Pop-Culture Moment

Endgame is the culmination of an entire universe of films,” said Exhibitor Relations’ Jeff Bock. “The only thing shocking would be if Endgame didn’t turn the record books into dust.”

Endgame has already achieved status as a pop-culture moment, with theatres running marathon screenings of the 21 previous movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Websites like IGN.com are even suggesting the best times to use the bathroom during the new film’s 3-hour-plus running time.

Critics have generally praised the picture, which earned a stellar 96% aggregate approval rating from reviewers on Rotten Tomatoes.

“A film that should feel overlong and overstuffed rings purposeful, weighted with existential truth even as it flashes before our eyes,” the Chicago Reader’s Leah Pickett wrote in her review.

Next comes speculation of what other records Endgame might break. With this kind of juice, there’s every reason to believe it will challenge the US$2.07 billion worldwide gross of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, set in 2015. Only two other films in Hollywood history have taken in more: Avatar in 2009 and Titanic, released in 1997.

One thing is clear: The Marvel machine has been a huge moneymaker for Disney. Last year’s Infinity War, for example, earned an estimated US$985 million in profit, including TV, toys and theatre ticket sales, according to estimates from Kagan, S&P Global Intelligence.