When it comes to evaluating the financial performance of top movies, it isn’t about what a film grosses at the box office. The true tale is told when production budgets, P&A, talent participations and other costs collide with box office grosses and ancillary revenues from VOD to DVD and TV. To get close to that mysterious end of the equation, Deadline is repeating our Most Valuable Blockbuster tournament for 2018, using data culled by seasoned and trusted sources.
As the Marvel Cinematic Universe celebrated its 10-year anniversary last year, they tapped Anthony and Joe Russo to create the biggest cliffhanger arguably since Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back: Avengers: Infinity War, the first of the two-part finale that ends with Avengers: Endgame opening on April 26. Both Infinity War and Endgame are primed to transition Marvel into a new cycle of superheroes. The question is, who will survive and make that jump? Currently, Marvel hasn’t announced what its two tentpoles it will set for next year, and fans are expected to have a better idea following Endgame. Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely’s screenplay for Infinity War drew inspiration from Jim Starlin’s 1991 Marvel comic The Infinity Gauntlet and Jonathan Hickman’s 2013 Infinity title about the superhero team squaring off with the galactic villain Thanos. Despite putting even more Avengers characters onscreen than Captain America: Civil War, including recent blockbuster protagonist Black Panther and his cohorts, the Russos distinguished Infinity War from all other Marvel movies by having the movie told from Thanos’ point of view. Villains sometimes win, and that was a compelling notion for the filmmakers.
The ending of Infinity War left moviegoers gobsmacked and they shelled out $2 billion worldwide, making it one of four films in history to cross that box office threshold, following Fox’s Avatar ($2.78B), Paramount/Fox’s Titanic ($2.18B), and Disney’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($2.06B). Infinity War was just $19.8M short of overtaking Force Awakens, underscoring the power of event moviegoing in a world where streaming threatens to keep more people at home.
Other monumental achievements reached by Infinity War: It is Disney’s highest-grossing Marvel film at the global box office, ahead of the first Avengers movie in 2012 ($1.5B), and Disney’s second highest-grossing worldwide release ever (after Force Awakens). In the U.S. and Canada, Infinity War at $678.8M is the fourth highest-grossing movie of all time after Force Awakens ($936.6M), Avatar ($760.5M) and Black Panther ($700M). It’s also Disney’s third highest-grossing movie ever stateside, and second best for Marvel. The crazy part: With Avengers: Endgame‘s April 26 release looming, none of these records is likely to stand.
THE BOX SCORE
Here are the costs and revenues as our experts see them:
THE BOTTOM LINE
Disney went all in on this movie, spending an estimated $475M between the film’s production cost and global P&A spend. While China produces big box office for these types of Hollywood films, studios typically see only 25%-27% of those tickets sales. Infinity War grossed close to $360M in the Middle Kingdom, becoming the third highest-grossing U.S. release to hit that mark after Fate of the Furious ($392.8M) and Furious 7 ($390.9M). Total revenues before costs are a massive $1.275B from theatrical rentals, home entertainment ancillaries and global TV sales.
Disney walks away with a half-billion in profit from Infinity War. Since Deadline launched the blockbuster tournament in 2014, this is the first Marvel movie to notch No. 1 and the third profit crown for Disney. Past winners include Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017), The Secret Life of Pets (2016), Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014) and Despicable Me 2 (2013),
Last week, the first day of Endgame presales broke 24-hour industry records, far surpassing that of Infinity War, which itself set the all-time domestic record of $257.6M and global start of $640.5M, busting the boundaries for worldwide opening-weekend grosses. Can Avengers: Endgame take the industry’s notion of an opening weekend to an unimaginable $300M domestic and $800M-plus worldwide?