Avengers 4 is all but assured to be one of 2019's biggest box office hits, but how can Marvel ensure it tops Infinity War? Released this past April, Infinity War marked the beginning of the end for the MCU as we know it, bringing together all the various corners of the ever-growing franchise in the fight against Thanos. Given how wildly successful Marvel's movies have been ever since Iron Man in 2008, it didn't come as any surprise when Infinity War broke box office records and cruised to the $2 billion mark worldwide - becoming just the fourth film in history to earn that much money.
Of course, Infinity War ended with the jaw-dropping cliffhanger that left half of the MCU disintegrated into dust, and the survivors left to pick up the pieces. The story will reach its true culmination next summer when Avengers 4 opens, and Marvel is understandably being quite secretive when it comes to what might be their biggest project yet. As of this writing, they've yet to announce the official title, but all signs indicate a promotional push will begin shortly. As fans await the first trailer, we look at how Avengers 4 can become a bigger box office smash than its predecessor.
Market Avengers 4 Like It's "The End"
2019 is the year of movies lying about being the end of their respective franchises, but in Marvel's case, there's some truth to it. Avengers 4 will be the closing chapter of this sprawling, 22-film saga audiences have been following for the past decade, before the next generation of heroes takes over in more substantial roles. There's a reason why the original six Avengers were among the living as the credits rolled on Infinity War. It was a way of establishing that Avengers 4 is going to be that group's last hurrah as they band together and save the world one final time - before death and/or retirement become factors.
As such, the Avengers 4 advertising campaign needs to hammer this point home. It can't be marketed as just another Marvel movie (which it surely won't) or even similar to Infinity War. This sounds crazy to say, but the novelty of seeing all the property's heroes onscreen together is gone. Marvel can't get by on billing Avengers 4 as a reunion between viewers and old friends. Even with the likes of Spider-Man: Far From Home, Black Panther 2, and others on the horizon, casual moviegoers (the group primarily responsible for getting these tentpoles up to $1 billion and $2 billion globally) need to know for all intents and purposes, this is "the end." Placing an emphasis on characters like Tony Stark and Steve Rogers will certainly help in this regard, as the contracts of Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, and others are about to expire.
This is a tried and true strategy in Hollywood that typically works well. A famous example from this decade is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2, which (at the time, anyway) was the last film in J.K. Rowling's Wizarding World. Unadjusted for inflation, it's the highest-grossing film of the series with $381 million domestically (a substantial uptick from Part 1's $295.9 million) and $1.3 billion worldwide (Part 1 made $960.3 million). Back in 2005, Revenge of the Sith was sold as the last episode in the Skywalker saga and outgrossed Attack of the Clones by more than $200 million globally ($848.8 million vs. $640.9 million). Roping people into believing an upcoming movie is the final time is an easy way to play the project up as an "event," which increases demand to see it as soon as possible.
Additionally, Marvel can implement the high levels of Avengers 4 secrecy into the marketing materials. Ever since Infinity War ended, fans have wanted to know what comes next and how (or... if) the dusted heroes return. Marvel's actors are infamous for spoiling details they're not supposed to, but the studio can do what they can in trailers, posters, and TV spot to keep most of the pertinent aspects under lock and key. This is a film that practically sells itself, so there's no need to go overboard and spell out the plot trajectory in a theatrical preview. As we've seen with Star Wars, tapping into the mystery box and maintaining a few surprises can be beneficial - especially when working with a world-famous brand. The Force Awakens' trailers revealed minimal plot information, sold fans on atmosphere and nostalgia, and took home a cool $2 billion. When people are already onboard with seeing a movie, the marketing department can get a little creative.
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019