One April weekend in 1964, the Beatles achieved the impossible when they notched the top five spots on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. That achievement — never accomplished before or since — erased any remaining doubts about their dominance. Marvel’s three-hour “Avengers: Endgame” (Disney) was expected to set a record as the biggest domestic opener ever. But Disney accomplished more than one record-breaking film this week. The now mammoth studio made film business history.
Since Thursday night, “Endgame” has notched an estimated $350 million domestic gross. Worldwide it has already reached $1.2 billion (Russia is the sole major market not included; it opens Monday). Those numbers alone are a big story. Here are some significant box office achievements included in this massive result.
All-time opening records are no rarity: this is the third time in under 3.5 years after “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and “Avengers: Infinity War.” What is staggering is that new records usually are set by marginal amount. $350 million is a whopping 36% better than either of the two previous top performers.
My guess is that Disney has low-balled their numbers including the percentage drop from Saturday to Sunday. With its A+ Cinemascore (“Infinity War” was A), repeat viewings, and the scramble to find available seats, don’t be surprised if the final gross goes up.
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The movie is in profit
Normally, a film that cost a reported $350-400 million, then added another $300 million in marketing and advertising costs, could open huge and still not immediately get into profit. A $1.2 billion global gross will return substantially more than 55 percent to the studio, so the movie is already in profit. In this case, the only surprise is that it isn’t a surprise.
“Endgame” and its roughly 30 million domestic attendees (that’s 13 million more than initially watched the recent season premiere of “Game of Thrones” at home) made up 89% of the tickets sold this weekend. Previously most dominant? “Avengers: Infinity War” at 82%, “Star Wars: Force Awakens” at 79%. Again, not only a record, but a massive increase.
Talk about dominance!
Out of $392 million total gross this weekend, “Endgame” ate up all but $43 million. That’s 11 percent as much as “Endgame” did alone. That single weekend number is greater than the last six Oscar Best Picture winners’ total grosses combined. Sometime during the afternoon on Friday, “Endgame” outpaced the biggest Oscar winner since “Argo”: “Green Book.”
If there was any wealth to be spread this weekend, it went to other Disney films. Five Disney films in the Top Ten mark a record for a single distributor. (That includes Fox title “Breakthrough.”) The five Disney films’ total gross is $368 million. That’s just under 94% of tickets sold.
You would think that “Endgame” would hurt Marvel entry “Captain Marvel” in its eighth weekend. But no. “Captain Marvel” took the second spot, jumping from #4 last week, and only dropped 11%.
The third of the weekend’s top four films went to Fox title “Breakthrough” at #4, which opened over Easter weekend. Unprecedented? Almost certainly. Stunning? Yes, and perhaps an early sign of how strong the merged entity will be.
“Dumbo” placed #7, and “Penguins,” which didn’t even open in the Top Ten last week, placed #10. The weekend drops of the four Disney titles averaged 40 percent.
The rest of Top Ten fell by an average 70 percent.
The four best-holding films were all Disney-overseen titles. Despite “Endgame” opening and demanding a massive number of screens, somehow the company was able to lose fewer dates than the other films, even ones that grossed more last week. (Disney commanded about 14,000 theaters; that’s not screens. That number is not published, but assume that “Endgame” alone commanded three or more at many locations). If you want to see the future, their ability to not sacrifice other titles while “Endgame” was the prime entry indicates how no other studio comes close to their power.
“Breakthrough” had a boost from the holiday weekend (and a Wednesday opening to boost word of mouth). It fell 44% off for a second weekend, the second-best hold in the Top Ten. Next week will determine how long it will run.
“The Curse of La Llorona” (Sony), last weekend’s #1, dropped 71%, even high for a horror film.
Until now, “Shazam” (Warner Bros.) had been a successful comic book movie in its own right, but this weekend it faltered 66%. Take that D.C. Comics!
“Little” (Universal) was the best of the non-Disney holds, but this potential sleeper still dropped 58% on weekend three.
“Pet Semetary” (Paramount) and “Us” (Universal) both fell 74%, drops increased by massive theater loss.
The bigger-than-expected “Endgame” opening put a nice dent into the year-to-date lag. What was $585 million on Thursday by Monday will be about $500 million. That will lead to a 12-13% drop, a nice improvement over the 16% going into the weekend.
Two major questions remain. Short term, will this film continue strong enough over the next few weeks to catch up to “Star Wars: Force Awakens”? And more important, does the summer portend more blockbuster performers, or will “Endgame,” like “Infinity War” last year, mark the high point of the year? Last summer did not rise to the level expected after the huge “Infinity War.” Will “Endgame” raise all boats–or just Disney’s boats?
The Top Ten
1. Avengers: Endgame (Disney) NEW – Cinemascore: A+; Metacritic: 77; Est. budget: $375 million
$350,000,000 in 4,662 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $75,075; Cumulative: $350,000,000
2. Captain Marvel (Disney) Week 8; Last weekend #4
$8,051,000 (-12%) in 2,435 theaters (-218); PTA: $3,306; Cumulative: $413,580,000
3. The Curse of la Llorona (Sony) Week 2; Last weekend #1
$75,500,000 (-71%) in 3,372 theaters (no change); PTA: $2,224; Cumulative: $41,284,000
4. Breakthrough (20th Century Fox) Week 2; Last weekend #3
$6,304,000 (-44%) in 2,913 theaters (+89); PTA: $2,164; Cumulative: $26,114,000
5. Shazam! (Warner Bros.) Week 4; Last weekend #2
$5,520,000 (-66%) in 3,631 theaters (-552); PTA: $1,520; Cumulative: $131,150,000
6. Little (Universal) Week 3; Last weekend #5
$3,438,000 (-59%) in 2,119 theaters (-548); PTA: $1,622; Cumulative: $35,846,000
7. Dumbo (Disney) Week 5; Last weekend #6
$3,239,000 (-51%) in 2,380 theaters (-845); PTA: $1,361; Cumulative: $107,006,000
8. Pet Sematary (Paramount) Week 4; Last weekend #7
$1,290,000 (-73%) in 1,655 theaters (-1,491); PTA: $779; Cumulative: $52,612,000
9. Us (Universal) Week 6; Last weekend #8
$1,141,000 (-73%) in 1,255 theaters (-1,099); PTA: $909; Cumulative: $172,845,000
10. Penguins (Disney) Week 2; Last weekend #12
$1,051,000 (-54%) in 1,815 theaters (no change); PTA: $579; Cumulative: $5,721,000