Loose lips sink scripts in this age of Internet spoilers. That message was written between the lines of an open letter shared on Instagram today by Marvel Studios filmmakers Joe and Anthony Russo in the hours after some leaked footage and images from Avengers: Endgame went pinging across the echo chamber of social media. The mega-release from Disney’s Marvel Studios opens April 26 but the Russos pleaded today with early-screening audiences to be reticent regarding major plot points. “When you see Endgame in the coming weeks, please don’t spoil it for others, the same way you wouldn’t want it spoiled for you,” the Russos said in the joint statement.
The Russos punctuated their letter with #dontspoiltheendgame, which could be a hashtag for the month with the return of Game of Thrones for its eighth and final season on HBO. Saga finales with intensive visual effects, long-lead marketing, and tie-in campaigns take time and that’s makes it a struggle to keep a lid on their plot twists. The same word of mouth that pushes a franchise to record-level audiences can also spread a suspense-snuffing spoiler across entire continents.
In the letter, the Russos wrote: “Please know that the two of us, along with everyone involved in Endgame, have worked tirelessly for the last three years with the sole intention of delivering a surprising and emotionally powrful conclusion to the Inifinity Saga. Because so many of you have invested your time, your hearts, and your souls into these stories, we’re once again asking for your help.
The filmmakers signed off with a message of “Remember, Thanos still demand your silence,” a reference to the similar entreaty they made last year, when they called on fans to protect the finger-snap climatic revelations in Avengers: Infinity War. The new film likely will end with major changes in the lives of Marvel’s screen characters and, most likely, the death of one or more signature heroes. That has led to a cone of silence over the production, from the filming (the project went under the pseudonym Mary Lou when it began shooting in Georgia) to the current lock-down on story details and visuals.
Spoilers or not, the Brothers Russo may be poised to reach a new, rarified strata of blockbuster achievement with the new release. If Avengers: Endgame from Disney’s Marvel Studios and Producer Kevin Feige delivers the kind of monster success suggested by early signs, the sibling directors would match a feat that’s only been accomplished twice in Hollywood history. If Avengers: Endgame finishes this intensely competitive year as 2019’s highest-grossing release it would give the Russo’s back-to-back years with the box-office title. Their Avengers: Infinity War topped all competition in 2018 with $2.08 billion in global box-office, a staggering total that also established a new sky-high record for the superhero genre.
If Avengers: Endgame does finish the year as 2019’s worldwide box-office champ (thanks partly to the Dec. 14 release date of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which limits the Jedi epic to only 12 days in this calendar year) the Russos would match a “repeat feat” previously accomplished only by Peter Jackson and Gore Verbinski. Jackson directed the highest-grossing films of both 2002 and 2003 (The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers with $923 million and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King with $1.1 billion, respectively). Verbinski then matched the commercial feat with the top money-maker of 2006 and 2007 (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Mean’s Chest with $1.1 billion and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End at $963 million).
In all three examples, the filmmakers were working on double-barreled sequel installments that were shot either consecutively or concurrently. That approach (which has also been a tactic used in franchises such as Harry Potter, The Hobbit, The Hunger Games, The Twilight Saga and The Matrix) maximizes talent schedules and some resources while also shaving down the lag time between theatrical release dates. Avengers: Endgame will open April 26 and misses the one-year anniversary of Avengers: Infinity War by a single day. The two visual-effects epics were shot back-to-back, with Infinity War filming in the first half of 2017 (from Jan. 23 to July 14) and then Endgame taking the baton for the year’s second half (from Aug. 10, 2017, through Jan. 11 of 2018).
The sibling directors aren’t the only ones hoping for the rare repeat: Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely are the writing team behind both Avengers: infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. The executive producers of Endgame are Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Michael Grillo, Trinh Tran, Jon Favreau, James Gunn, and the late Stan Lee.
Avengers: Endgame is the concluding chapter of the Marvel Studios mythology that began with the 2008 release of Iron Man and has stretched across a latticework of interconnecting franchises that have thrived. In their open letter today, the Russos nodded to the historic heft that accompanies Endgame on its way to cinematic glory. “This is it. This is the end. The end of an unprecedented narrative mosaic spanning eleven years and eleven franchises.” Read the full letter below…