Marvel and Disney had a big hit with “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” but then along came “Thor: Ragnarok” with a much bigger box office. Suddenly “Black Panther,” the MCU film that became a cultural juggernaut put those two film to shame. Now there’s “Avengers: Infinity Wars” which pulled in over $630 million worldwide making history as the biggest global box office opening ever.
If Disney tried to declare that 2018 was a loss leader in the books, I would highly suggest a very thorough audit.
A whole lot of superheroes added up to a whole lot of ticket sales. The superhero smorgasbord “Avengers: Infinity Wars” opened with predictable shock-and-awe, earning $250 million in box office over the weekend and edging past “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” to set the highest opening weekend of all-time.
“Infinity War,” which brings together some two dozen superheroes in the 10-year culmination of Marvel Studio’s “cinematic universe,” also set a new global opening record with $630 million even though it’s yet to open in China, the world’s second-largest movie market. It opens there May 11.
Expectations were high for “Infinity War,” the first installment of a two-part finale, which will wrap up a whopping 20-film Disney franchise. The movie features a litany of brand-name stars — Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Chris Pratt and dozens more — as the heroes assemble to take down Thanos (Josh Brolin), the series’ biggest baddie yet. Disney poured in around $300 million to make the movie and another $150 million or so to market it, sending the extensive cast around the world and to nearly every talk show.
According to the Walt Disney Co.’s estimates Sunday, “Infinity War” overwhelmed the previous global best (“The Fate of the Furious” with $541.9 million) but narrowly topped “The Force Awakens” in North America. The “Star Wars” reboot debuted with $248 million in 2015, which would translate to about $260 million accounting for inflation.
But both intergalactic behemoths belong to Disney, which now owns nine of the top 10 opening weekends ever — six belonging to Marvel releases. That includes “Black Panther,” which has grossed $1.3 billion since opening in February and still managed to rank fifth at this weekend’s box office, thanks partially to Marvel fans self-programming a double-feature.
The track record for Marvel, along with the hyper, extravagant effort put into the long-planned “Infinity War,” made the record-setting weekend something of a fait accompli. After ten years, 18 prior films and some $15 billion in box office, the weekend was an assured and long-awaited coronation for Kevin Feige’s Marvel, the most dominant force in a Hollywood with precious few sure things.
“To have now the biggest movie of domestic history as one of the Marvel cinematic universe films seems like a fitting tribute to the Marvel Studios team which has had just an astounding, unmatched run in the last decade,” said Dave Hollis, head of distribution for Disney.
By any measure, the 2-hour-and-40 minute-long “Infinity War” is one of the largest films ever assembled. With a production budget reportedly almost $300 million, Joe and Anthony Russo’s film brings together the stars of Marvel’s superhero stable, including Robert Downey Jr.‘s Iron Man, Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther, Chris Evans’ Captain America, Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk, and many more.
It was shot over 18 months back-to-back with a sequel due out next summer. Marvel spent years laying the groundwork for the big showdown, teasing its villain (Josh Brolin’s Thanos) since 2014. The result earned positive reviews (84 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes) and an A CinemaScore from audiences. All but one of Marvel’s 19 cinematic universe releases has scored an A CinemaScore.
As if to further stamp its pronounced enormity, “Infinity War” was also the first film shot entirely with IMAX cameras. (Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk” was mostly shot on IMAX.) IMAX screenings accounted for a record $41 million of the weekend’s global ticket sales. Greg Foster, head of entertainment for IMAX Corp, said the success of Marvel stands apart from Hollywood’s other mega franchises.
“This isn’t something that their parents saw. This isn’t an old franchise that their parents saw when they were 20,” said Foster. “This is theirs. The Marvel universe is the group of characters that this generation owns.”
The investments paid off. The $630 million global opening for “Infinity War” crushed the previous record-holder, “The Fate of the Furious,” which arrived last year to a now seemingly pedestrian $542 million. Incredibly, “Infinity War” sprinted to first place without the enormous markets of China or Russia, where it will open in the next two weeks. Domestically, the film put up a cool $250 million and was celebrated in Hollywood as the biggest opening ever. When adjusted for inflation, though, “Infinity War” lags slightly behind “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” which arrived in 2015 to about $261 million in today’s dollars.
Disney now holds nine of the top 10 domestic openings of all time — six of which are part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “The result is a reflection of 10 years of work: of developing this universe, creating stakes as big as they were, characters that matter and stories and worlds that people have come to love,” Dave Hollis, Disney’s president of distribution, said in a phone interview.
No new wide releases dared to compete with “Infinity War,” which played at 4,474 theaters in North America. In a very distant second place was John Krasinski’s “A Quiet Place” with $10.7 million in its fourth week. With $148.2 million in total ticket sales, the Paramount Pictures thriller had topped the box office three of the last four weekends.
Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for comScore, credited Marvel with the potent lead-up to “Infinity Wars” with “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” ″Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” ″Thor: Ragnarok” and “Black Panther” — all successful and well-reviewed entries.
“This brought the world together this weekend,” said Dergarabedian. “That’s what these movies do: They remind us why we love going to the movie theater. A movie like this shows the singular and unique experience of going into a movie theater.”
“Avengers: Infinity War” will next set its sights on records like the fastest film to reach $1 billion and the highest gross ever. The film’s endurance should be lifted by mostly positive reviews from critics, as well as an A from audiences in CinemaScore exit polls. And it’s highly likely that superfans will boost the gross by returning to theaters multiple times.
The ear-popping heights that Marvel reaches with each new movie suggests that superhero fatigue has not set in, and that these kinds of films can break records with relatively little effort. But just last year, “Justice League” crawled into theaters with $94 million — flop territory considering it was roughly as expensive as “Infinity War.”
Other studios cleared their decks in anticipation, so there were no competing major releases this weekend. Paramount’s “A Quiet Place,” a horror film directed by John Krasinski, slid into second place with an additional $10.6 million, according to comScore, which compiles box office data. Its total take has reached an impressive $148 million. “I Feel Pretty,” starring Amy Schumer, strutted into third with $8 million.
And “Super Troopers 2” earned another $3.6 million to arrive at $22 million total, easily surpassing the total gross of its 2002 predecessor, “Super Troopers.”
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to comScore. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.
- “Avengers: Infinity War,” $250 million ($380 million international).
- “A Quiet Place,” $10.7 million ($6.6 million international).
- “I Feel Pretty,” $8.1 million ($1.4 million international).
- “Rampage,” $7.1 million ($16.2 million international).
- “Black Panther,” $4.4 million.
- “Super Troopers 2,” $3.6 million.
- “Truth or Dare,” $3.2 million ($2.8 million international).
- “Blockers,” $2.9 million ($1.6 million international).
- “Ready Player One,” $2.4 million ($8.6 million international).
- “Traffik,” $1.6 million.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at international theaters (excluding the U.S. and Canada), according to comScore:
- “Avengers: Infinity War,” $380 million.
- “Us and Them,” $88.8 million.
- “Rampage,” $16.2 million.
- “A or B,” $15.2 million.
- “Ready Player One,” $8.6 million.
- “A Quiet Place,” $6.6 million.
- “Peter Rabbit,” $5.3 million.
- “Taxi 5,” $3.8 million.
- “Genghis Khan,” $3.4 million.
- “The Trough,” $2.9 million.