For starters, let's play pretend.
We live in a time where Marvel is synonymous with both huge box office and acclaim from audiences and critics alike, but it wasn’t always this way. Marvel flirted with bankruptcy several times, and (prior to 2000) Marvel’s lenders wanted a solvent company that could pay back as much of their debt as possible. When Avi Arad and Isaac Perlmutter took the reigns of the company in 1998, they had one goal: to sell the film rights of the Marvel characters not owned by Fox or Universal (namely all the characters in the current MCU). They'd made an offer to Sony to sell all these characters, from Spider-Man to Iron Man to Captain American to Black Widow, for $25 million*.
Sony said, “Nobody gives a shit about any of the other Marvel characters. We don’t want to do that deal. Go back and do a deal for only Spider-Man.” A deal was reached ($10m for each movie + 5% of all revenue after recoupment).
Keep thinking about $25 million when I go over these records. Keep thinking that the MCU was this close to being Avi Arad’s MCU. $25 million dollars, or the amount Avengers: Endgame made every five hours (gross) this weekend.
Let’s take a look at the records:
- BIGGEST OPENING WEEKEND INTERNATIONAL GROSS – $866,526,407
- BIGGEST OPENING WEEKEND WORLDWIDE GROSS - $1,223,641,414
- HIGHEST WORLDWIDE IMAX GROSS - $91.5m
- BIGGEST CHINESE OPENING - $331m (USD)
- BIGGEST OPENING IN 43 MARKETS
- BIGGEST OPENING WEEKEND DOMESTIC GROSS - $357,115,007
- BEST OPENING WKND PER THEATER AVG (Domestic) - $76,601
- WIDEST DOMESTIC OPENING RELEASE – 4,662 Theaters
- BIGGEST THURSDAY “PREVIEW” GROSS - $60m
- BEST SINGLE DAY GROSS - $157,461,641
- BEST OPENING DAY GROSS - $157,461,641
- BEST FRIDAY GROSS - $157,461,641
- BEST SATURDAY GROSS - $109,264,122
- BEST SUNDAY GROSS - $90,389,244
- HIGHEST DOMESTIC IMAX GROSS - $26.5m
Here's some additional fun trivia:
- The MCU movies have now grossed almost $20 billion dollars worldwide (cough, $25million, cough).
- Avengers: Endgame and Captain Marvel became the first two first run movies from the same franchise to have the #1 and #2 spots in any weekend’s ranking. (In Feb 1997, the “Special Editions” of Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back were #1 & 2).
- Avengers: Endgame is already in the top 50 Domestic movies of all time and the top 20 Worldwide Grosses of all time...after five days.
- The biggest weekend of all time (before this past weekend) was April 27-29, 2018 (Avengers: Infinity War weekend) where 125 movies made $313,937,789 combined. Avengers: Endgame made all that (and $40m more) by itself.
- 88.7% of every dollar spent at the box office this weekend was for Avengers: Endgame.
- The 38.58% jump from Avengers: Infinity War’s opening weekend to Avengers: Endgame’s opening weekend is the 2nd largest increase for a new #1 record and the largest since 1983, when Return of the Jedi took the crown from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn.
No one predicted this could happen.
When tracking gets to the high end of its responses, it’s very hard to provide a prediction - especially one that predicts a 40% leap from the highest grossing weekend off all time. What Avengers: Endgame did this past weekend was almost a miracle and it was quite something to see it unfold in real time. Here’s hoping there’s a lot more like it in our future.
* = The story of Sony/Marvel can be found in Ben Fritz’s outstanding book The Big Picture: The Fight for the Future of Movies.