Avengers: Endgame almost doubled the box office opening of Avengers: Infinity War, but how exactly did that happen? Last year, Infinity War broke multiple box office records en route to becoming just the fourth film in history to earn $2 billion worldwide. Since the original Iron Man in 2008, Marvel movies had always done well commercially, but Infinity War was in another category altogether. Uniting all corners of the ever-expanding cinematic universe, it was a blockbuster event unlike anything audiences had seen... until Endgame came around, of course.
Billed as the culmination of the 22-film Infinity Saga, Endgame was a bona fide movie event bolstered by unparalleled levels of hype. Pre-selling tickets at unprecedented rates, it was all but a guarantee Endgame would break the records its direct predecessor set 12 months ago. But few would have been able to predict just how much Endgame would make in its debut. The official numbers are so massive, even longtime box office analysts have difficulty wrapping their heads around them. Endgame earned $350 million domestically and a staggering $1.2 billion in its opening, far surpassing the $640.5 opening of Infinity War. How did that happen? There are a few reasons.
China is arguably the biggest factor here. Endgame opened in the Middle Kingdom at the same time as everywhere else, which contrasted from Infinity War. Last year, China didn't get Infinity War until May 11, well after the film had already premiered in several other areas across the globe. Marvel changed things up for Endgame (likely in an attempt to prevent the spread of spoilers), meaning Endgame's whopping $217.4 million Chinese opening counted towards its official worldwide debut. If the China opening was delayed, Endgame still would have broken the record, but its haul would have been around $982.6 million instead of topping the once-unthinkable $1 billion weekend. But when something is this massive, one country can't make all the difference.
Prior to release, Marvel ran an extremely secretive marketing campaign for Endgame, revealing the barest bones of the plot and hardly any footage in trailers and TV spots. Coupled with the devastating cliffhanger ending of Infinity War, that withholding of information turned Endgame into the premier tentpole of an entire generation. As evidenced by the Fandango records that fell, demand to see Endgame was through the roof; everyone from die-hard fanatics to casual audiences were eager to find out how the story resolved and what would become of the beloved characters audiences have been following for years. In the interest of not getting spoiled, it was of the utmost importance for many to see the film as early as humanly possible. These days the internet is an unsafe space immediately after a huge pop culture event like Endgame, so the best way to experience the movie fresh was to see it on opening weekend.
Endgame was going to make boatloads of money regardless of what else had been playing, but a case can be made it also benefitted from what's been a relatively soft first half of the year at the box office. That's not to say there haven't been commercial successes since January (Us turned a nifty profit), but the major hits have been few and far between. Captain Marvel made $1 billion, but other would-be blockbusters like The LEGO Movie 2 disappointed at the box office. Even Shazam, which is in the black due to its manageable budget, didn't really light the marketplace on fire. There was a demand, not just for Endgame, but for a massive tentpole in general. Once again, Marvel filled that void and they got a jump start on all of the big summer movies on the horizon. The only two films this year to make at least $200 million domestically are Captain Marvel and Endgame, so it's not like people had their fill of blockbusters by the time Avengers came out.
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019