‘Avengers: Endgame’ IMAX poster
Walt Disney and IMAX
With $7.516 million on Thursday, its 14th day of domestic release, Avengers: Endgame has now earned $660.4 million in two weeks of North American theatrical play. That puts it right above the unadjusted domestic total ($659 million, counting reissues) of James Cameron’s Titanic to make it the fifth-biggest domestic earner of all time. It’ll pass Avengers: Infinity War ($679 million) today and presumably Black Panther ($700 million) on Saturday, with a third weekend gross between $70 million and $80 million leaving it with a 17-day cume of $730 million-to-$740 million. After Sunday, it’ll be behind only Avatar ($760 million, counting its brief 2010 reissue) and Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($937 million).
Yet even as it nears the $700 million milestone (and the unadjusted domestic total of Black Panther), it’s about to lose the title of “fastest-grossing movie.” With the obvious caveat that this only matters for box office nerds like me, its 14-day total is now just $9 million higher than the $652 million 14-day cume of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Yet Star Wars Episode VII earned $22.9 million on day 14 while Avengers 4 earned just $7.5 million. Even if Avengers: Endgame rallies a little bit this weekend despite Detective Pikachu, its day 15/Friday gross will likely be closer to $20 million than Force Awakens’ $34.4 million day-15 gross.
So, barring a fluke, Avengers: Endgame will end tonight with around $680 million. That’ll be just above the $679 million cume of Avengers: Infinity War, but $6 million below the $686 million 15-day gross of The Force Awakens. Presuming a similar multiplier as Infinity War’s third weekend ($62 million) gross, a 3.825x multiplier from a $20 million Friday gets Endgame to $78 million for the weekend, giving it a still obscene $738 million 17-day cume. That would be just $4 million below the $742 million 17-day cume of The Force Awakens. It’ll pass Avatar’s domestic (and possibly worldwide) total soon enough, but The Force Awakens is now a bridge too far.
Thanks to Star Wars 7’s unbeatable late-December holiday blitz, where newbies get two weeks of weekdays that play like weekends, Avengers: Endgame was always going to have to settle for second place in unadjusted North American grosses. Force Awakens opened on the very best weekend of the year one the pre-Christmas frame which is followed by a 14-day run where everyone is out of school and/or off work for the holidays. And with Force Awakens having its second Friday on Christmas Day and its third Friday on New Year’s Eve, well, Endgame needed legs like Infinity War (even with a 38% larger opening weekend) to catch Star Wars 7.
One cannot discount the advantage that comes with opening a big/well-liked movie in the Christmas season. Just this past December, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse ($190 million from a $35 million launch) was the leggiest comic book superhero movie since Tim Burton’s Batman 30 years ago, and Aquaman ($335 million from a $72 million debut) was the leggiest live-action comic book superhero movie since Jim Carrey’s The Mask back in 1994. Even The Last Jedi’s 67% second-weekend drop can partially be explained by not getting those vacation days until after the second weekend. Its second batch of Mon-Thurs grosses were larger than its first, and it dropped just 26% in weekend three.
All of this is to explain why not catching up to Force Awakens is no defeat for the MCU blockbuster any more than Black Panther not catching up to Avatar (which opened on that same pre-Christmas weekend) qualifies as a loss for that MCU biggie. At this rate, barring a fluke in terms of legs in either direction, Avengers: Endgame is looking at a final domestic total of between $855 million (if it legs like Captain America: Civil War) and $911 million (if it legs like Avengers: Infinity War). Both scenarios would put it in second place in raw grosses and the optimistic finish would rank it 12th for inflation-adjusted earnings.