For close to a decade, it’s been an impossible task for any film trying to beat Avatar‘s mammoth all-time global box office record of $2.79 billion.
In fact, it’s a box office feat filmmaker James Cameron actually had to top himself: Prior to Avatar, Cameron’s Titanic with a lifetime of $2.19B worldwide was the reigning champ for 13 years. Titanic remained a hard No. 2 to beat, a hurdle that even recent global blockbusters like Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($2.07B) and Disney-Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War ($2.05B) couldn’t jump over in working their way up the all-time worldwide B.O. charts.
It only took Disney’s Avengers: Endgame 10 days to defeat Titanic‘s lifetime global record, but when it comes to unseating Avatar it’s going to take a long time (maybe months), even though as of yesterday Anthony and Joe Russo’s finale is just $37M shy of the mark.
Today, Disney is rereleasing Avengers: Endgame back into theaters at 2,025 screens in the U.S. and Canada and around 38 offshore markets. The new cut contains a Stan Lee tribute, a Hulk deleted scene, and a short clip during the post credits from Sony/MCU’s Spider-Man: Far From Home. It’s an interesting move by Marvel: They kept some powder dry, not to insert on the DVD, but to place in a theatrical rerelease.
You’d think the rerelease would be enough to get Endgame over the bump and past Avatar. Unfortunately, that’s not expected, and if it happens, it would shock many in distribution circles. Even if Endgame in the next week grosses $10M-$15M worldwide, many say that final $22M-$27M will be an uphill slog that might require an additional theatrical rerelease should Disney decide to go the distance and outstrip the record owned by the mega-franchise filmmaker they inherited from Fox. Some in distribution circles even think Endgame ultimately won’t out-peg Avatar.
Essentially, the Endgame rerelease offered an opportunity to bask in the sunlight of Sony’s MCU title Spider-Man: Far From Home, which opens Tuesday and is expected to own the Independence Day week with $125M-$160M. From what we hear, the Endgame rerelease wasn’t part of a greater D-Day Disney distribution strategy to topple the Avatar record.
We saw a similar box office phenomenon occur with Captain Marvel in the shadow of Endgame‘s massive record opening weekend ($357.1M domestic, $1.22B worldwide). During that time, the first female MCU movie rose to the No. 2 spot in its eighth weekend at the box office with $8.3M stateside. Following Endgame‘s opening, Captain Marvel went on to make another $17.4M worldwide ($12.9M domestic, $4.5M overseas) as fans rushed back and forth between movies. With Far From Home‘s plot taking place after Endgame, the anticipation is for a similar B.O. halo effect with Endgame. Weekend estimates as of today see Avengers: Endgame with $6.3M in its Weekend 10, up 218%, for a running domestic total by Sunday of $842.1M.
This weekend’s new cut of Endgame is primarily a domestic play largely pushed by a digital marketing campaign. Abroad, the pic will play in Latin America (Mexico), UK/Ireland, Germany, Spain, Russia and some Asian Pacific corridor countries including Australia/New Zealand and Japan.
So, if there’s just a handful of cash Endgame needs to beat Avatar, why is it so hard to come by?
Essentially, it has to do with Endgame coming up far short of Avatar in lucrative countries outside the U.S. and China. Endgame made 53% of its global gross in U.S./Canada and China, whereas those two territories only repped 34% of Avatar‘s lifetime worldwide ticket sales (Avatar‘s global 2010 rerelease made $33.2M), meaning the Cameron pic made up more ground offshore. Forget about Endgame returning to China, where it made a massive $614.3M (to Avatar‘s $204M; the country had a nascent multiplex infrastructure back in 2009). China also has a 30-day play period policy on U.S. pics, and Endgame didn’t receive an extension. Not to mention, with piracy rampant in China, it wouldn’t be prudent to bring Endgame back.
Avatar‘s records in key countries were so strong, Endgame hardly had a shot at beating them, i.e., France ($175.6M compared with $59.3M), Japan ($172M vs. $54.7M), Germany ($162.3M vs. $63M), Russia ($117M vs. $45.6M), Spain ($110M vs. $32.5M) and Italy ($83.5M vs. $33.8M). Another reason not to expect as much on Endgame in these territories this time around is because the film’s already played out, with screens promised to the next round of local and Hollywood fare. Much of Avatar‘s success overseas, like the U.S./Canada, had to do with 3D being a fad.
Stateside, Force Awakens owns the domestic B.O. crown with $936.7M, having already beat Avatar‘s U.S./Canada then all-time record ($760.5M) three years ago. Endgame is second on the all-time domestic B.O. list behind Force Awakens but has no chance of it toppling it.
Some sources believe Endgame could earn more cash later this summer if Disney plays it as a double feature with The Lion King. Also, it’s not unusual over Labor Day weekend for majors to rerelease their big blockbusters for one last hurrah.
However, many say that if Disney-Marvel wanted to truly make up the difference in Endgame‘s cash, they would have teamed with Sony and played the finale as an official double feature with Spider-Man: Far From Home next week. However, the films aren’t officially being billed together as Sony is steering its own ship on Far From Home.
Still, there’s no such thing as a coincidence, especially in a domestic marketplace where Disney product dominates a majority of screens. So, don’t be surprised if you find both Endgame and Far From Home playing at the same multiplex in your neighborhood.