Avengers: Endgame and Star Wars: Episode IX will be two of 2019's biggest box office hits, but Earth's Mightiest has the (slight) advantage to earn more. If one ever needed further evidence of Disney's dominance over the entertainment industry, it's that they're distributing two of the most anticipated films of the entire year from two of the most popular franchises in the industry. Marvel Studios has seen their first 20 movies collectively gross $17 billion, while the four new Star Wars installments have already turned a profit on Disney's surprising purchase of Lucasfilm. Simply put, Endgame and Episode IX are going to be huge.
One thing that will be interesting to keep tabs on is which one grosses more at the box office. There are a lot of factors to consider when discussing this topic, especially since the two properties have wildly different results in foreign markets. The real winner, of course, will be Mickey Mouse and the incredible media empire Bob Iger has assembled, but we're going to try to predict whether Endgame or Episode IX will win the individual battle commercially.
The Case for Star Wars 9
Star Wars is coming off its first box office flop in Solo, but things should be very different this year. Episode IX sees the franchise return to its new home of December, where The Force Awakens, Rogue One, and The Last Jedi steamrolled the competition to the tune of more than $4 billion in ticket sales. With the exception of the Jumanji sequel, Star Wars 9 will be the only real studio tentpole in town over the holidays, putting it in prime position for a lucrative run. To top it all off, January is rather slow for new releases, so Episode IX won't be going up against much of note well into 2020. That'll only stand to boost its prospects, since most people will be returning for repeat viewings (in lieu of seeing a lower-profile title). Endgame premieres in April, right before the mad dash of the summer blockbusters. Avengers is going to do just fine, but there are plenty of movies looking to take away some business and cut its legs.
Both Endgame and Episode IX have an air of finality surrounding them, but in the case of the latter, it's a little more concrete. Yes, Lucasfilm is actively developing a new slate of Star Wars movies for the 2020s, but they've yet to officially date them or make any real headway so far (Rian Johnson has been working on his mystery thriller Knives Out). Realistically, this is going to be the last Star Wars film in theaters for the next few years, and it's one that looks to definitively end the Skywalker saga before the franchise goes off in new directions. Endgame serves as the culmination of the first 22-project arc in the MCU, but the studio already has Spider-Man: Far From Home set for a July debut with more (like Black Panther 2) well on the way. Endgame is "the end," but not in the sense Episode IX is. That gives Star Wars a small edge, since films that clearly conclude their respective franchise tend to do very well at the box office. It's a large-scale cinematic event that everyone will want to be a part of. Episode IX isn't "just another Star Wars movie" like Solo was; it's the last Star Wars movie of the Skywalker saga - a narrative that's defined pop culture for more than 40 years.
The Case for Avengers: Endgame
Of course, Endgame is going to be a major event itself, serving as the direct sequel to the massive hit that was Infinity War. Last spring/summer's blockbuster became the fourth member of the $2 billion club and sent the zeitgeist into a frenzy with its jaw-dropping cliffhanger ending that saw half of the universe's population snapped out of existence. If you're looking for Endgame's primary trump card, Thanos' snap might be it. Audiences left the theater wanting more, knowing that what they had just witnessed was not a complete story. Even though savvy fans understand Peter Parker, T'Challa, and others will be back for future solo movies, there's still a strong interest in seeing how the battle against the Mad Titan plays out and what the surviving Avengers must do to fix the damage. Usually, the followup to a record-breaking smash can't match or surpass the historic figures, but this could be a rare exception. Star Wars fandom is broken, but Marvel's remains in good faith after Infinity War.
Speaking of Avengers fans, that group is a bit more global than Star Wars. As we'll explore in greater detail later, Marvel's major event films (like Infinity War) do much better internationally than Star Wars' comparable titles (the first two installments of the sequel trilogy). This is by virtue of Marvel being the more recent of the two properties. When Star Wars first premiered in 1977, the worldwide box office was essentially an afterthought; today, it's a much more significant priority. Overseas audiences simply have a deeper connection with the MCU, since they've had the luxury of following it since the beginning and built up an investment over the past decade. Star Wars is still relatively new in some territories, so the anticipation for Episode IX may not be as great as it is elsewhere in the world (particularly America). With this in mind, things are shaping up to be a very interesting box office showdown.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019