Detective Pikachu may not have been able to beat out Avengers: Endgame for the top spot at the box office, but the film is still commercially successful. Since Endgame debuted at the end of April, much has been written about the movie's unprecedented run, as it absolutely shattered records by posting figures that seemed unfathomable. In only its second week, Endgame passed the $2 billion mark worldwide, and it's currently gunning for Avatar's all-time global mark of $2.7 billion. Everyone expected it to do well, but few would have predicted this kind of a performance.
Endgame's monumental haul impacted the other movies in theaters. Case in point: Detective Pikachu. Back in March, the first live-action Pokémon film was projected to have a domestic opening weekend between $75-90 million, which would have been significantly higher than WB's holiday tentpole, Aquaman. However, in actuality, Pikachu came in well below those estimates by earning $54.3 million in its first three days. Normally, when a film underperforms like that, it means it's a disappointment, but Pikachu can still be considered a success.
For starters, $54.3 million is a very respectable total, good enough for the fifth-highest opening weekend of 2019 so far. Pikachu is currently sandwiched between How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($55 million) and Shazam ($53.5 million), and both of those films turned a healthy profit for their studios. There's no denying Pikachu's debut likely would have been a little higher if it wasn't playing in the shadow of Endgame, but audiences were still interested in seeing it on the big screen. Plus, with the next four-quadrant tentpole not opening until next week (Aladdin), there's a good chance Pikachu will have decent legs before it's stacked up against more competition, padding its total in the early part of its run.
The real barometer to determine if a movie is a success is to compare is gross to its production budget. Detective Pikachu cost $150 million to make, which would set its break even point around $300 million worldwide. After one weekend, the film is at $166.7 million, which clearly doesn't break many records, but still puts it on the right path. It already made back its costs and should be able to pass that $300 million mark soon. One key detail, however, is that it's opened in most markets around the globe, including the all-important China. There are still a handful of territories waiting to get the film, but none of them are huge difference makers that'll take Pikachu into the stratosphere. Still, every extra bit of money helps and WB will take anything they can get. And with Pokémon's worldwide appeal, audiences from all over should be coming out to watch the film.
With all this in mind, Detective Pikachu is likely going to go down as a modest success, rater than a full-blown one. Summer competition isn't a joke, and films like Godzilla: King of the Monsters and Dark Phoenix will be vying for ticket sales in the future. Whatever Pikachu's profit margin is, it'll be slim and it certainly isn't a realistic threat to enter the $1 billion club. As WB plots a future for the Pokémon film franchise, they'll have to keep this in mind. It's tempting to green light a full slate of sequels and spinoffs, but that'd be an easier sell if Detective Pikachu was a bigger hit.