Seven years ago, The Avengers stomped through its opening weekend to the tune of $207 million. It was an earth-shattering number that redefined the possibilities for summer box office, set off a wave of imitators in the “cinematic universe” game, and ushered in Marvel’s age of box office dominance. Lainey and I were texting about Endgame’s box office this weekend and I was like, Don’t you remember we’ve had this conversation before? (I also remember the conversation some people insisted on having about how the Avengers might be over after Age of Ultron opened with slightly less money in 2015. LOL.) The Avengers rewrote the rules once already, and they did it again because Avengers: Endgame just had an opening weekend that makes the 2012 Avengers’ opening weekend look like total dogsh-t. Endgame opened with an estimated $350 million domestically, and $1.2 BILLION worldwide, obliterating pretty much every record in the book.
These numbers are staggering, obviously, but what is really impressive is how Endgame didn’t just break records, it smashed them. The previous biggest domestic opening was Infinity War, with $257 million. Endgame is beating that by almost a hundred million whole ass dollars. This is also the largest Friday opening, at $156.7 million, which beats Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ record of $119.1 million. Again, not even close. We can talk about the overall health of the box office—bad this year, so far, and being propped up solely by Marvel movies—and the death of the mid-budget movie, but this fear that some people have (ahem, Spielberg) that theaters are dying is unfounded. People, CLEARLY, will still go see movies at the theater. It’s just that they’ll only go see Marvel movies. That’s probably the thing we should address, not the paranoia that Netflix is killing theaters.
After this seismic opening weekend, the big question is how big can Endgame get? Can it beat Avatar’s all-time record of $2.7 billion worldwide? Endgame largely has the next few weeks to itself—no one expects Detective Pikachu or John Wick 3 to make this kind of money—but the general grind of summer movie season starts soon. The top three movies on the all-time list (Avatar, Titanic, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens) all came out in December. Winter is good to movies like this, as they have pretty much all of January and February to hoover up cash, uncontested, as Aquaman did just this past winter. Endgame doesn’t get that much lead time. We’ll just have to see how it does in the coming weeks, if it turns into something people see over and over, or if it was front-loaded as an event weekend. One thing is for sure, though. Endgame is a once-in-a-generation event. The Avengers ushered in the age of the $200 million opening weekend, but it might be a while before we see another movie as big as Endgame.