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‘Avengers: Endgame’ is Slowing Down at the Box Office

At this rate, the latest from the Marvel Cinematic Universe is unlikely to top ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ on the all-time domestic box office chart.
Avengers Endgame Captain America
Marvel Studios
By  · Published on May 13th, 2019

Marvel won the box office again over the weekend, with Avengers: Endgame spending its third straight weekend at number one. Despite doing well for a video game adaptation (though falling short of 2001’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider), especially for a Mother’s Day weekend, Pokémon: Detective Pikachu sold fewer tickets than Endgame and landed in second place. Other new movies, including The Hustle, Poms, and Tolkien, were spread out through the top 10, albeit with far fewer tickets sold in their own debuts.

Endgame may still be on top, but it’s not quite the powerhouse that it was at the start. After breaking the opening weekend box office record by a lot, the Avengers: Infinity War follow-up had only the second-best second weekend, behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and now has placed only sixth for the third-weekends chart. This is the result of the movie being so frontloaded in its attendance that first weekend. But even in its second go around, Endgame was still selling better than The Force Awakens and seemed headed for some all-time domestic domination.

On Friday, however, Endgame began to fall behind. For the first time, the Marvel Cinematic Universe installment grossed less than the Star Wars revival on their equivalent days of release. Even without adjusting for inflation. By Sunday, its 17th day of release, Endgame had sold about 80.3 million tickets. The Force Awakens had sold 86.5 million tickets in the same amount of time. At this rate, the Avengers movie may not take over the all-time domestic box office throne (or all-time for a 21st-century release, if we’re looking at inflated grosses). Endgame may eventually pass Avatar domestically, though.

As for overseas, Endgame has already passed The Force Awakens on the global chart and is near Titanic‘s truer worldwide take (James Cameron jumped the gun with his congratulations). But Avatar is likely to remain the king of the world. As much as some people would love to see it fall because they don’t think it’s good enough to deserve the honor of being the biggest movie in the world ever, audiences around the world love Avatar. They’re the ones populating lines for Avatar attractions at Disney theme parks. They’re the ones who’ll be justifying the making of Avatar 2 through 5.

Back at home, one of the biggest surprises about Endgame‘s still-substantial success is that it has not really helped movie attendance overall for the year. We are 132 days into 2019, and after what’s still likely to be the top movie of the year has released, ticket sales are the lowest they’ve been in at least five years, at 434.6 million. Attendance is down more than seven percent from last year, which was up compared to the rest of the half-decade. We’re going to need this summer to be filled with big hits if 2019 is going to come out any better.

The domestic opening of Detective Pikachu doesn’t offer a good sign of what’s to come, either. In March, the live-action Pokémon movie was tracking for more than $75 million, with Box Office Pro making a prediction for, even more, as much as $90 million. Last week, the same site offered a forecast of somewhere between $50-75 million, but even if Detective Pikachu first reported an estimated gross of $58 million, even that wound up being more than what actually came through ($54.4 million). Perhaps tepid reviews or alternative Mother’s Day activities (what moms would have chosen Detective Pikachu of all movies to see on their special day?) kept crowds low.

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

1. Avengers: Endgame — 7 million (80.3 million)
2. Pokémon: Detective Pikachu – 6 million (6 million)
3. The Hustle — 1.4 million (1.4 million)

4. The Intruder – 0.8 million (2.4 million)
5. Long Shot — 0.7 million (2.2 million)
6. Poms — 0.6 million (0.6 million)
7. UglyDolls — 0.5 million (1.6 million)
8. Breakthrough — 0.3 million (4.1 million)
9. Tolkien – 0.24 million (0.2 million)
10. The Curse of La Llorona — 0.206 million (5.7 million)
11. Captain Marvel – 0.205 million (47 million)
12. Shazam! — 0.11 million (15.2 million)
13. Dumbo – 0.083 million (12.3 million)
14. Little — 0.076 million (4.4 million)
15. Student of the Year 2 — 0.05 million (0.1 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.