Features and Columns · Movies

‘Avengers: Endgame’ Made All the Money

We look at all the records broken by the latest Marvel movie and break down which ones will likely never be broken again.
Avengers Endgame Steve Rogers
By  · Published on April 29th, 2019

Year after year, movies break box office records. Thanks mostly to the rise of ticket prices and inflation, domestic grosses will always be increasing. And yet, Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame has done so well in its opening weekend, that its achievements may never be topped. Some of the records will be broken again in the distant future because the value of money will be altered and eventually a $357.1 million domestic debut won’t be that rare. Nor will a $1.2 billion worldwide opening. But the attendance numbers, those will be hard to beat.

In just three days (plus Thursday previews), the series finale of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know it sold 39.6 million tickets in the US and Canada. That’s a new record, previously held by Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which opened in December 2015 to a crowd of 28.5 million. Last year’s Avengers: Infinity War came close with its first-weekend attendance of 27.5 million. The rest of the top 10 there includes three more MCU installments, two of which are Avengers movies, a non-MCU Marvel superhero franchise sequel, another Star Wars sequel, a Batman film, and Jurassic World.

No original movie will ever sell so many tickets, and there’s unlikely to be any other kind of franchise that has the sort of build up the MCU has. Star Wars concludes the “Skywalker Saga” this December, giving us another sort of finale to the original series narrative as well as the sequel trilogy begun with The Force Awakens. But while Star Wars: Rise of the Skywalker will surely draw an opening weekend crowd that puts it in the company of the aforementioned top 10 titles, but even diehard fans don’t feel a significance there the same way Endgame has had with not just Marvel fans but mainstream pop culture.

So, what could actually be fleeting with Endgame‘s status? Let’s first look at all the records the movie broke over these last few days that will eventually be broken:

– Best opening weekend domestic gross ($357.1 million)
– Best foreign opening gross ($859 million)
– Best worldwide opening gross ($1.2 billion)
– Best worldwide IMAX opening gross ($91.5 million)
– Best worldwide 3D opening gross ($540 million)
– Best opening day domestic gross ($157.5 million)
– Best Thursday night preview domestic gross ($60 million)
– Best single day domestic gross ($157.5 million)
– Best Friday domestic gross ($157.5 million)
– Best Saturday domestic gross ($109.3 million)
– Best Sunday domestic gross ($90.4 million)
– Fastest domestic grosser to: $100 million (1); $150 million (1); $200 million (2); $250 million (2); $300 million (3); $350 million (3)
– Fastest international grosser to: $1 billion (5)
– Widest release by theater count (4,662)
– Best wide-release per-screen average domestic gross ($76.6 million)
– Best opening day gross in China ($107.8 million)
– Best five-day opening weekend gross in China ($330.5 million)
– Best opening weekend gross in: Argentina; Australia; Brazil; Korea; Mexico; Spain; UK/Ireland
– Best non-local opening weekend gross in: France; Italy
– Best single-day gross in: Argentina; Brazil; Mexico; Spain; UK/Ireland
– Highest gross for a time-travel movie ($350 million plus)
– Highest domestic gross for a movie franchise ($7.6 billion)
– Highest international gross for a movie franchise ($19.9 billion)
– Highest domestic gross for a movie brand ($13.2 billion)

And here are the records that may truly be for all time:

– Best opening weekend domestic attendance (39.6 million)
– Best opening day domestic attendance (17.5 million)
– Best single day domestic attendance (17.5 million)
– Best Friday domestic attendance (17.5 million)
– Best Saturday domestic attendance (12.1 million)
– Best Sunday domestic attendance (10 million)
– Fastest to: 10 million tickets sold (1); 15 million tickets (1); 20 million tickets (2); 25 million tickets (2); 30 million tickets (3); 35 million tickets (3)
– Best wide-release per-screen average attendance (8,500)
– Best movie franchise total domestic attendance (893 million)
– Best movie brand total domestic attendance (1.8 billion)

Debuts are also one thing, but how big can Endgame go in the long run? After three days, the Marvel movie is in 50th place for all domestic debuts, unadjusted for inflation. To take the record there, Endgame has to do better than The Force Awakens‘ domestic total of $936.7 million. That won’t be impossible, but will a lot of regular folks go see the movie again as they did with the return of Star Wars? Could Endgame be the first $1 billion domestic grosser (without looking at inflated figures)? Possibly. But then it won’t be the last. And it won’t come anywhere close to the overall attendance of many old movies, including probably forever record holder Gone with the Wind. However, it could pass Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to be the first 21st-century release to crack the all-time top 10.

As for the all-time international chart, Endgame is at the moment already in the top 20. Number 18, to be exact. The movie to beat there, and maybe Marvel can make it, is James Cameron’s Avatar with $2.8 billion. All Endgame has to do is double its debut to pass the third placer The Force Awakens on the international chart, too, but the major coup would be if the sequel could knock off even second placer Titanic, which initially gave Cameron the record, which he’s kept via Avatar, more than 20 years ago.

Just a few more things about Endgame. Tracking for the movie just last week had the movie only maybe reaching the $300 million (33.2 million tickets) mark. Box Office Pro predicted it would land somewhere in the range of $280 million and $320 million. In early March, the same site had the number even lower, putting the domestic gross guess around $265 million (29.3 million tickets). So, it overshot by a lot. Chalk that up to Endgame not just being an event but a good one. The movie has a 96% score on Rotten Tomatoes, the MCU’s second best. And it’s the second Avengers installment and third MCU movie to get an A+ grade via Cinemascore, a mark up from Infinity War, so that’s helped with word of mouth. Speaking of comparing to other MCU movies here’s our usual graph:

Mcu Openings

Endgame is so dominant there, that it’s actually more interesting to see how it compares, after just three days, with the total domestic attendance of other MCU movies. This 22nd installment has already sold more tickets in North America than 10 MCU titles did in their entire domestic run, including all the Thors, the two Ant-Mans, Captain America: The First Avenger and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Doctor Strange, The Incredible Hulk, and Spider-Man: Homecoming. And it’s likely to pass the two Guardians of the Galaxys and the first two Iron Mans today.

Mcu Total Attendance

Technically, Endgame did not, in fact, make all the money. Sorry for the headline lie. But at 90% box office market share of the top 12 domestic-release charting titles this past weekend, it came pretty close — the total for the dozen is $398.1 million. That share percentage another record, and attendance-wise that’s another that may never be broken unless theatrical moviegoing almost ceases to be a thing and we only occasionally get tentpole Marvel releases opposite small indies. If we add the weekend gross for Captain Marvel ($8.3 million), which shot back up to the second place at the box office, likely for those who needed to do a double feature with Endgame, Marvel had 92% of the market. Disney had 95% share.

That’s if we include Fox’s Christian film Breakthrough. Proper pre-merger Disney also has Dumbo, which is trudging along still disappointingly, and Penguins, the latest Disneynature feature, which cracked the weekend top 10 for the first time. That documentary’s success is also rather minimal compared to others in its brand. Another doc that is doing pretty well is the Aretha Franklin concert film Amazing Grace, which also moved up the ranks to round out that top 12 list of releases. The weekend’s per-screen average went to Endgame instead of an indie, for a rare occasion, but following the Marvel movie, congrats go out to Ralph Fiennes’ The White Crow, and the docs Hesburgh, Carmine Street Guitars, and If the Dancer Dances for rounding out that top five.

Here are the weekend’s estimated top 12 titles by the number of tickets sold with new and newly wide titles in bold and totals in parentheses:

1. Avenger: Endgame — 39.6 million (39.6 million)
2. Captain Marvel – 0.92 million (45.9 million)
3. The Curse of La Llorona — 0.89 million (4.6 million)
4. Breakthrough — 0.76 million (3 million)
5. Shazam! — 0.6 million (14.6 million)
6. Dumbo – 0.388 million (11.9 million)
7. Little — 0.385 million (4 million)
8. Pet Sematary — 0.15 million (5.8 million)
9. Us – 0.13 million (19.2 million)
10. Penguins – 0.127 million (0.6 million)
11. Missing Link — 0.118 million (1.7 million)
12. Amazing Grace — 0.06 million (0.2 million)

All non-forecast box office figures via Box Office Mojo.

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.