Avengers: Endgame is finally here and breaking box office records, proving again how superhero blockbuster films are Hollywood's best chance to keep audiences from abandoning theaters in favor of Netflix. The latest installment in the superhero saga is one of the most anticipated films of all time, and audiences are rushing to see it.
Despite last week's disappointing box office, Avengers: Endgame was always projected to be a breakaway financial hit. In fact, many analysts put last week's slow ticket sales down to people saving their time and money for Avengers: Endgame. They were right. Disney/Marvel's decade-plus gambit is paying off in a major way, one that is expected to almost single-handedly course correct the year's declining box office.
According to Marketplace, the success of Avengers: Endgame is the kind of thing that only superhero blockbusters can promise, but major Hollywood studios are the only ones capable of creating those kinds of blockbusters. They have the money to make interconnected spectacle films, and they have the theater connections. Superhero movies are made to be seen in a theater, and audiences know that. Over the past ten years, since around the start of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, superhero films have come to make up roughly 25 percent of the industry's box office revenue. The MCU leads the pack in terms of box office earnings, but audiences are generally interested in seeing any superhero films. Six out of last year's ten highest grossing films were superhero properties. Of those six, half of them - Venom, Deadpool 2, and Incredibles 2 - were not part of the MCU.
Netflix, for its part, has never really been able to compete with theaters in the first place. Still, the company has been increasing its output of original content year after year in a bid to get people to stay at home rather than go out to watch new movies. Typically, Netflix relies more on dramatic and conceptual flair rather than spectacle that demands a theater experience. While Netflix does have films that could rival certain theatrical run films, and even though the company is bringing in talented directors to helm new projects, they don't yet have anyway to compete with high budget theater-ready movie like Avengers: Endgame.
With characters like Aquaman bringing in over a billion dollars, studios have no reason to slow down with the superheroics, and they're not going to. They get audiences excited to watch something all at once and be a part of it. Watching a Netflix film, even with a group of people, isn't the same as waiting in line at a theater and sitting in a packed crowd with everyone gasping, laughing, and cheering all at once. Netflix films may become momentary hits, but Netflix itself sometimes treats their originals like viral videos; whatever they promote one week will be buried under a score of new releases the next. When the Avengers assemble, they make audiences excited to assemble as well. Avengers: Endgame is the ultimate big budget spectacle movie and on track to become Hollywood's mightiest hero.