erik lundegaard

Game Over, Man: ‘Avengers: Endgame’ Shatters Box Office Record with $350 Million Opening Weekend

Since 1980, the title of “biggest opening weekend” has changed hands 24 times, which means it happens about once every 18 months. It happened nine times in the ‘80s, four times in the ’90s, five in the aughts, and six times this decade. It happened three times in 1989 alone, when then-champ “Beverly Hills Cop II” ($26 million) was unseated by “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” ($29.3), which lost its title three weeks later to “Ghostbusters II” ($29.4), which held onto the title exactly one week, when Tim Burton's “Batman” shattered the norms with a record $40.4 million weekend and made every exec in Hollywood realize the age of the superhero was here. 

Kidding. That wouldn't happen for another 10 years. 

Anyway, you see how it goes. Generally there's an incremental leap forward—like with “Ghosbusters II”: $117k, 0.4%. Rarer is the great leap forward, as with “Batman”: $11 million, 27.2%. 

This weekend, “Avengers: Endgame” made the greatest leap forward of all. It opened at $350 million. 

On one level, percentage-wise, this isn't the biggest. The biggest since ‘80 is “Return of the Jedi” at 37.7%. Then “Batman at 27.2%, followed by 1997’s ”The Lost World: Jurassic Park“ at 26.8%. Because it's easier to leap percentage-wise when the raw numbers are small. That's why no movie has touched a 20% increase since ”Spider-Man“ nearly 20 years ago. The numbers are just too big now.

Except ”Avengers: Endgame“ broke the record by 26.4%

And in terms of dollar amounts? Nothing's close. The previous best jump was ”Force Awakens,“ which increased the record by $39 million; second is the first ”Avengers“ movie in 2012, which did the same by $31 million. 

”Endgame“ bested the record, its own record, by $92 million. 

Here's another indicator of how much this is shattering norms. When the 2012 ”Avengers“ became the first film to break the $200 million mark, there were 20 previous movies that had already opened north of the previous benchmark, $100 million—including pirate movies and Pixar and Harry Potter. And ”Avengers“ just eked over that $200 million line. This time, ”Endgame“ is roaring past $300 million, halfway to $400, while there's only six movies that managed to break the previous benchmark, $200 million—and three of those were MCU movies. (The others are ”Star Wars“ and ”Jurassic World.“)

And, again, ”Endgame“ is doing it all with a three-hour runtime, meaning there are fewer shows and thus fewer opportunties for moviegoers to lay down their dough. 

Now that it's happened, or happening, I don't see any movie breaking this record for a long, long time. I know records are made to be broken—once every 18 months since 1980, for this. That said, the longest period without a new champ was four and a half years. In May ‘97, ”The Lost World: Jurassic Park“ took the mantle from ”Batman Forever“ with a $72 million weekend. That wasn’t beaten until the first Harry Potter movie grossed $90 million in November 2001. I think we‘re going to get that again; that kind of gap. Or longer. Because nothing’s close to it. You'd need to put Harry Potter in a ”Star Wars" movie with dinosaurs to maybe have a shot. Maybe. 

Here's the chart of weekend box-office champs over the years: 

Release Movie Open Thtrs Total % Increase $$ Increase
6/20/80 The Empire Strikes Back $10.8 823 $209 NA NA
6/19/81 Superman II $14.1 1,397 $108 23.1% $3.2
6/4/82 Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan $14.3 1,621 $78 1.7% $0.2
5/25/83 Return of the Jedi $23.0 1,002 $252 37.7% $8.6
5/23/84 Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom $25.3 1,687 $179 9.1% $2.3
5/20/87 Beverly Hills Cop II $26.3 2,326 $153 3.8% $1.0
5/24/89 Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade $29.3 2,327 $197 10.2% $3.0
6/16/89 Ghostbusters II $29.4 2,410 $112 0.4% $0.1
6/23/89 Batman $40.5 2,194 $251 27.2% $11.0
6/19/92 Batman Returns $45.6 2,644 $162 11.4% $5.1
6/11/93 Jurassic Park $47.0 2,404 $357 2.8% $1.3
6/16/95 Batman Forever $52.7 2,842 $184 10.9% $5.7
5/23/97 The Lost World: Jurassic Park $72.1 3,281 $229 26.8% $19.3
11/16/01 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone $90.2 3,672 $317 20.1% $18.1
5/3/02 Spider-Man $114.8 3,615 $403 21.4% $24.5
7/7/06 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest $135.6 4,133 $423 15.3% $20.7
5/4/07 Spider-Man 3 $151.1 4,252 $336 10.2% $15.4
7/18/08 The Dark Knight $158.4 4,366 $533 4.6% $7.2
7/15/11 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 $169.1 4,375 $381 6.4% $10.7
5/4/12 The Avengers $200.3 4,349 $200 15.5% $31.1
6/12/15 Jurassic World $208.8 4,274 $652 4.1% $8.5
12/18/15 Star Wars: The Force Awakens $247.9 4,134 $936 15.8% $39.1
4/27/18 Avengers: Infinity War $257.7 4,474 $678 3.8% $9.7
4/26/19 Avengers: Endgame $350.0 4,662 TBD 26.4% $92.3

And I haven't even gotten to the global box office: $1.2 billion. Good god. In just three days, it's already the 18th-biggest movie of all time. Unadjusted. And it completely shattered that mark. Per Box Office Mojo:

  • Worldwide Opening Weekend: $1.2 billion
  • Previous Record: $640.5 million (Avengers: Infinity War)

It's uniting the world more than anything besides hatred of Donald Trump.

Review up tomorrow. 

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Posted at 11:41 AM on Sun. Apr 28, 2019 in category Movies - Box Office  
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