Ten years after Iron Man launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Avengers: Infinity War begins its international rollout Wednesday in such major markets as Korea, France and Australia. That’s ahead of domestic previews which begin Thursday evening for the Disney/Marvel title. The MCU has now grossed more than $14.8 billion worldwide (including the non-Disney movies) and everything that’s been done in the 17 films since Tony Stark first shot off in his armored red suit has been leading to this 19th entry, which brings together more super power than you can shake a space stone at.
The Anthony Russo- and Joe Russo-directed threequel to the Avengers series is expected to create a seismic wave at the global box office with all markets releasing through Friday, save China and Russia. In the U.S., tracking and rival distribution executives agree that Infinity War is on its way to a record.
Tracking has it ranging from $216 million-$235 million, which on the high end would be the second-best domestic start of all time beating Star Wars: The Last Jedi ($220M). Some believe the movie has the power to get to $275M, an opening that would best Star Wars: The Force Awakens‘ all-time record ($247.9M) by 11%. Still, even if this film sinks to the high-$100Ms, which no one is really expecting, Marvel’s platinum records haven’t tarnished.
As for overseas, industry sources are pegging the bow from $256M-$263M with some also seeing it reach $275M. Outside the $275M predictions, the domestic and international ranges equal a global bow from $472M-$498M — $500M-plus does not appear out of the question. If it hits the low end of that worldwide range, it would rank as No. 5 all time; on the high end, it lands at No. 4. We’ll gauge the bigger predictions as play starts to roll.
Infinity War is showing some of the best domestic tracking scores ever, with unaided awareness (the non-frequent moviegoer indicator) at 59% beating all previous box office champs like Force Awakens, Last Jedi, etc. Ditto for first choice at 48% with definite interest at 72% only second to Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Some showtimes, such as at AMC Theatres where they’re holding an Infinity War fan event, are set to begin at 6 PM Thursday, while others will start at the standard 7 PM. Fandango has been reporting for quite some time that advance ticket sales are beating all previous superhero movies. If all these indicators are true, then Infinity War should feasibly beat the top Marvel Thursday night preview, Avengers: Age of Ultron‘s $27.6M. Disney also owns the top Thursday night ever with Force Awakens ($57M).
Studios love jump-starting the summer season in April — read Disney’s The Jungle Book ($103M domestic opening) and Universal’s Fast Five ($86M) — but typically those ticket sales don’t count toward the official summer tally between May and Labor Day. However, it will be impossible to discount the massive amount of money Disney is set to collect in North America this weekend.
Looking at the international picture, a spring release from the Disney/Marvel hit machine would normally start its run offshore a week ahead of domestic, but a switch in March put the movie on the day-and-date track. The step is thought to have been a means to avoid spoilers, which are a big issue with the movie. Infinity War will take advantage of the May Day holiday in many markets — it’s not going to China until May 11 with the upcoming weekend flooded by local pics.
To put the opening international numbers in perspective, the best comps are Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War (also directed by the Russos). The latter was seen as essentially an Avengers movie, bringing a host of characters together and introducing Tom Holland as Spider-Man and Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther. There is likely to be a Black Panther halo domestically on Infinity War, getting some non-Marvel faithful whose heads were turned by that recent phenomenon at the multiplexes. Iron Man 3 is also seen as a decent comp.
Overseas, Ultron opened to what today would be $254M in like-for-like markets, while Civil War did $231M at today’s rates. Given the interest in Infinity War, backed by a global campaign that hasn’t quit, the film is expected to rise higher than those previous titles. How high remains a question mark until we begin seeing the first numbers Thursday, but watchers don’t see it coming in lower than $250M. Although one international distribution exec allows that even if it lands below that, those are still “crazy numbers!”
It’s true that once we get into the stratosphere of a $200M+ opening either offshore or domestic, predictions become muddied. Anything above $260M overseas would put Infinity War in the top-five all-time openers, passing Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. At No. 4 is Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which bowed to $281M at historic rates but $289M in today’s dollar conversion. While Infinity War has huge anticipation, some caution it may be less five-quadrant than its Disney cousin Force Awakens, which drew audiences from across the spectrum who had long been waiting for a return to the galaxy far, far away.
But talk about epic. The Infinity War superpowered arsenal includes Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Steve Rogers, Black Widow, Doctor Strange, War Machine, Spider-Man, Black Panther, Loki, Nebula, Mantis, Scarlet Witch, Star-Lord, White Wolf, Drax, Hawkeye, Ant-Man, Falcon and more. Josh Brolin plays Thanos, the villain the Avengers and their allies must unite to fight before his blitz of devastation and ruin puts an end to the universe.
In the ultimate Top 5 of offshore markets, Marvel movies are consistently led by China, although the Middle Kingdom is not a factor in this opening suite. The rest of the group is a mix of Korea, the UK, Brazil and Mexico. Look for Taiwan to over-index on Infinity War as it’s been throwing off bigger and bigger numbers in the recent past and that could come at the expense of a more mature market like Italy or Spain. India, notably, is reporting massive pre-sales and could set an all-time opening-weekend record.
While that Black Panther bump could materialize domestically, it’s not expected to have major impact overseas. For international, the draw is that literally everyone is in this movie. And they’ve been pretty much everywhere over the past few weeks.
There have been fan events and/or press conferences in Sao Paolo, Mexico City, London, Seoul, Singapore, Tokyo and Shanghai with the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy spreading out around the globe.
Chris Pratt went to Brazil; Mark Ruffalo, Joe Russo and exec producer Victoria Alonso stopped off in Mexico City; and Joe and Anthony Russo were both in London with Elizabeth Olsen, Laetitia Wright, Sebastian Stan, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hiddleston and Tom Holland. Cumberbatch and Holland also both appeared on separate episodes of The Graham Norton Show.
In Korea, as part of a global digital partnership, Disney/Marvel teamed with Naver to do the biggest and most successful of live-streaming events with talent. That included Pom Klementieff, Hiddleston, Cumberbatch and Holland. Holland along with Anthony Russo also spent time in Tokyo, while Cumberbatch, Robert Downey Jr., Karen Gillan and Joe Russo were in Singapore. Japan typically goes later than the rest of the world, but Infinity War will be there to capitalize on the Golden Week holiday that begins April 29.
In China, there was a first-time partnership with WeChat to create content with local influencers inspired by the film’s themes. An event in Shanghai took a fair amount of online flack from local fans who were dispirited to see so many non-relevant Chinese celebrities featured. Disney reportedly explained after the fact that the 10th anniversary celebration of the MCU had invited local celebrities to perform at the Shanghai Disney Resort as a means to expand the audience base. The company apologized, mtime reported.
On hand in Shanghai were Downey, Ruffalo, Holland, Hiddleston, Chris Hemsworth and both Russos. The latter have extra street cred in China having consulted on the market’s biggest movie ever, last year’s $854M-grossing Wolf Warrior 2.
Also in China (and Hong Kong, which does open this weekend), a large-scale mall exhibit featured Avengers statues and costumes.
In one of the biggest outdoor promotions ever, multiple blocks of Madrid were adorned with creatives from the movie spanning 100 meters.
As this massive group of Avengers assembles on screen, we’ll be here all weekend with updates.