It was inevitable
I’ll cut straight to the chase, dear reader, I’m not here to give my usual weekend box office breakdown. Normally I’d wait for Tuesday to roll around (when previous weekend totals are set in stone and a Monday total is released), hop on BoxOfficeMojo.com, then write about said results while assuming the same coffee-house enmity many large publications adopt when discussing the dearth of trough-quality films dominating the public interest year in and year out.
But, I don’t want to do that today.
Instead, I’d rather grab my extrapolation cap, fit it firmly to my head, and try to, um, extrapolate just how much money Avengers: Endgame will make over the course of its theatrical run.
It should come as no surprise that the long-awaited “conclusion” to Marvel’s massive movie experiment – the MCU – made a gob-smacking amount of money this past weekend. In fact, it broke every record currently held regarding opening weekends. No insignificant feat, as I’m sure many out there assumed passing Infinity War‘s then-record $257.6m opening weekend just wasn’t possible. Why? Because Star Wars: The Force Awakens had set the record only three years prior with $247.9m after some of the most intense mass anticipation ever seen. It stood to reason, then, that like The Force Awakens‘ sequel, The Last Jedi (a well reviewed film, though incredibly divisive among series fans), Endgame would fall somewhat shy of that initial record, but perform admirably all the same. More so, even, when one considers the 181-minute runtime.
Well, here’s a brief breakdown of just how much money Endgame wound up making compared to Infinity War, The Force Awakens, and The Last Jedi. Those films being the easiest point of comparison because only seven films have ever grossed more than $200m on their opening weekends, and these represent the top four:
- Avengers: Endgame: $357.1m
- Avengers: Infinity War: $257.6m
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens: $247.9
- Star Wars: The Last Jedi: $220m
So, yeah. The numbers speak for themselves. All but the most ardently pessimistic of analysts predicted this thing to maybe come within sniffing distance of $300m, with those pessimists (like me) figuring the thing would gross probably closer to $265-280m. It was a safe bet considering that every one of these behemoths is met with the same fanfare from studios and advertisers. It wasn’t until websites began crashing trying to process preordered tickets that people started to catch on and even then, no one expected this. It’s a record that, like James Cameron’s now shaking Avatar could attest, will stand for quite some time.
Now, I bring up Avatar for a reason and here’s why. Unlike the other four films I’ve gone over, Avatar was a monster overseas as much as it was in North America. Endgame, however front-loaded it winds up being, could stand to beat a few seemingly untouchable records. It’s odd, really, thinking about a film crossing $2 billion globally as a certainty, but here we are.
Avatar currently holds the all-time worldwide gross at $2.7 billion. Which is freakish mainly for its absurd (and record) international gross of over $2 billion, clearing $100m in receipts in over nine territories abroad. It’s domestic total of $760m, though bolstered slightly by re-release, was thought to be untouchable until The Force Awakens breezed by it in *checks notes* twenty days.
Which takes us to the next record Endgame might be in the running for: The North American domestic total. The Force Awakens currently holds the crown with an unfathomable $936.6m, just shy of the big B-word. At the time, TFA broke every domestic box office record there was. It was the fastest to earn every cent of its total. Infinity War swiped away the opening weekend record, but failed to deliver the week-over-week consistency, eventually stalling out for a domestic total of $678.8m, which was only enough to make it the second-highest domestic earner of 2017.
It did, however, go on to gross $1.36 billion overseas for a worldwide total of $2.04 billion. That’s an important number, not only because that passes The Force Awakens‘ $1.1 billion overseas, but because Endgame, in less than a week, has already grossed $948.7m internationally. By close of business Thursday (when its official first week at the box office ends) we could be looking at well over $1 billion in receipts overseas.
Crunching the numbers
The results at the end of this first week, both domestic and abroad, are important in predicting whether Endgame makes history or not. That eye-popping $357.1m opening weekend and enormous $36.8m first Monday are really great and all, but to stand the test of time, and shove an infinity gauntlet down Jim Cameron’s throat (you’re the king of nothing, James), it needs to top The Force Awakens in North America, and Avatar overseas.
This is where multipliers come into play. You may hear these thrown around every now again, but essentially it’s just a nifty little tool to extrapolate a film’s potential earnings according to the money it’s already made. For example:
The Force Awakens had a domestic opening weekend of $247.9m and a final domestic total of $936.6m. Which means that it’s opening weekend accounted for roughly 26% of its total North American earnings. This is really good; the rare example of a massive opening weekender stretching some gloriously striated legs and sprinting like a maniac. This would give the film a 3.7x multiplier. Very rare for blockbusters such as these, which tend to earn most of their money earlier on and taper off more quickly (front-loaded.)
The Last Jedi opened well enough, $220m, but only went on to gross $620.1m at the domestic box office. The opening weekend constitutes over 35% of the film’s total domestic earnings, much more typical, and represents about a 2.8x multipler. That’s still an above average multiplier, all things considered.
The closest and most likely point of comparison is Infinity War, which tapered quickly from its $257.6m opener to gross only $678.8m. It’s launch accounted for around 38% of its total North American earnings, or roughly 2.6x the opening weekend. Good, but not legendary. Legendary would be Avatar‘s 9.7x its opening, turning its unassuming $77m first weekend into a then-record $749.7m before its initial theatrical run concluded.
Here’s where I’d argue Endgame has the right stuff, but to be honest I don’t think I have to. Simply due its unimaginably massive opening weekend, applying Infinity War‘s 2.6x multiplier gives Endgame a domestic total of around $928.4m. THAT’S A MODEST ESTIMATE, one that assumes it tapers off exactly as Infinity War did and plays the same over twenty weeks.
Let’s play devil’s advocate and apply the zeitgeist-capturing multiplier of The Force Awakens, 3.7x. That results in an unbelievable $1.3 billion domestic total. I just . . . I just really don’t think that’ll happen. It’d be cool, sure. Disney would appreciate it. What’s that people say about Tom Brady? “Everyone loves a winner?”
It’s at this point I need to reassure everyone that this is a tremendously unscientific thing I’m doing right now, using numbers I found online and plugging them into my phone’s calculator. Okay? Good. Back to the hack-science.
Here’s why I brought The Last Jedi into the equation, and where that first week total really becomes important. Both Star Wars films opened over the winter holiday season, allowing plenty of teenagers and kids to see the movies. It isn’t quite summer vacation yet, and Endgame is already pulling in some impressive numbers, but the first few weeks of TFA and TLJ really solidified the trajectory of their domestic earnings.
It’s critical that Endgame maintain momentum during workdays, Monday through Thursday, if it wants a serious chance at beating the all-time domestic record. It might do just that. Looking at the film’s first Monday, Endgame earned a third-place all time $36.8m, which represents a 59.2% drop from its first-place all time Sunday of $90.3m. The percentage drop from Infinity War‘s first Sunday and first Monday was 64.3%, whereas The Last Jedi‘s was 58%. So, based on that, I’m going to assume that Endgame‘s drops until Thursday will fall somewhere between those two films, give or take a percentage point.
If we assumed outright that Endgame would follow The Last Jedi‘s trajectory, applying a multiplier of 2.8x to its opening weekend would give us a domestic total of $999.8m. But multipliers are more reliable once the first week is through, so let’s look at that.
TLJ‘s first Mon-Thurs drops: -58%, -6%, -16.6%, and +5.9%
Infinity War‘s first Mon-Thurs drops: -64.3%, -5.3%, -27.6%, and -8.6%
Endgame has already dropped 59.2% for it’s Monday, so let’s take the time of year into account and propose the following:
Endgame‘s potential Mon-Thurs drops: -59.2%, -6%, -20%, -7%.
Endgame‘s potential Mon-Thurs earnings: $36.8m, $34.6m, $27.7m, and $25.7m.
Endgame‘s potential first week earnings: $481.9m (That’s opening weekend and opening week combined.)
Using that prediction, we can extrapolate it’s weekly percentage drop by fudging some numbers that fall somewhere between Infinity War and The Last Jedi. OR, and hear me out, we could not do that and instead apply a new multiplier.
The Last Jedi‘s multiplier after its first full week was almost 2.1x, down from The Force Awakens‘ 2.4x multiplier. Infinity War‘s sits at a damn-near flat 2x multiplier. So, say Endgame makes $481.9m in its first full week. We then apply a fair and balanced (as all things should be) multiplier of 2.05x, and look at that: $987.8m domestic total.
As far as the overseas total? The only films to pass $1 billion internationally are Avatar ($2b), Titanic ($1.5b), Infinity War ($1.3b), Furious 7 ($1.16b), The Force Awakens ($1.13b), Jurassic World ($1.019b), and The Fate of the Furious ($1.01b). It took each of them around twenty weeks to amass those numbers, other than Avatar, which stayed in theaters for months and months and really, who even remembers that movie? Do you? Did you buy the BluRay?
Endgame opened internationally to $866.5m, a record. In the brief time since it’s increased to $948.7m. As of right now, 8:30pm EST on April 30, 2019 – Avengers: Endgame is already the tenth highest grossing film of all time with $1.34 billion. In my heart of jaded hearts I believe we’re witnessing history. Endgame will have earned $1.05 billion overseas by Thursday, pass Titanic‘s foreign gross over the next week or so, and challenge Avatar‘s by week fifteen or sixteen, though I don’t know if it’ll cross it. Overseas markets are tricky. It’s hard to tell if they’ll remain as enthralled with the end of Marvel’s Infinity Saga as we will here in North America, dwindle as they did with The Force Awakens, or surpass it as with Avatar. As a final point of reference, I’ll provide Infinity War‘s overseas opening versus its overseas total. Infinity War opened overseas with $382.8m, which made up 28% of it’s eventual $1.3b – a powerful 3.57x multiplier. Taking into account that Endgame has opened in all but one of its projected territories (Russia being the hold-out), I’ll lower that to a more conservative 2.57x multiplier. Sound fair? Let’s wrap this up.
My verdict, Avengers: Endgame:
Domestic: $481.9m first week and generous 2.1 multiplier = $1.01b billion total
International: $866.5m opening and 2.57 multiplier = $2.22 billion total
Worldwide: $3.23 billion total
There. It’s possible by precedent alone. Plus, I did the math and showed my work. I’m probably over-estimating the hell out of this thing, but it’s fun. If I’m wrong, it wouldn’t be the first time.
I’ll be back with more content in the near future, dear reader. Stay tuned.
Until next time.