“Avengers: Endgame” surpassed $2.188 billion worldwide in just 11 days, making it the fastest film to surpass $2 billion. It took “Avatar,” the previous record-holder, 47 days to reach that benchmark. That was back in 2009, when ticket prices were significantly less than they are today. Even so, that kind of speed is enough to make one wonder where “Endgame” will sit after 47 days.
“Avatar,” James Cameron’s stunning sci-fi epic, has remained the highest-grossing movie globally for nearly a decade. The futuristic film set on the fictional planet of Pandora was released in December 2009 and had an unprecedented run in theaters, playing on the big screen for over eight months. “Avatar” had virtually free rein over the box office throughout January and February, traditionally slower months that are light on new releases. It stayed in the top five in North America for 14 weeks, eight of those in the No. 1 spot.
“It’s really interesting because ‘Avatar’ was the product of a completely different marketplace,” said Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst at Comscore. “The way films had legs back then doesn’t happen like that in the summer.”
With a late April release date, “Avengers: Endgame” won’t enjoy that same kind of staying power. It’s worth noting that “Avengers: Endgame” and “Avengers: Infinity War” are the only two films to cross $2 billion that weren’t released in December. Marvel’s latest juggernaut will certainly have a long life in theaters, but over the next few months, it will also have to compete with a number of blockbuster-hopefuls including “Detective Pikachu,” “Godzilla: King of Monsters,” “Aladdin,” “The Lion King,” and “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw.”
As “Avengers: Endgame” continues to smash records at a torrid pace, box office watchers can’t help but ask the obvious question: Will “Endgame” be able to knock “Avatar” off its perch? The hype surrounding Marvel’s grand finale, not to mention the stellar reviews and word of mouth, has propelled ticket sales in uncharted territory. There’s never been a film that has made this much money this quickly.
“It’s hard to measure how long it’ll take to get another $600 million in the bank. It really depends on other movies coming down the pipeline,” Dergarabedian said. “If anyone thinks it’s an easy achievement, they’re not looking at the big picture.”
Getting to $2.8 billion might not be as effortless as it was to hit the $2 billion benchmark. It’ll rely on fans being eager to see the movie multiple times in theaters, as well as a strong showing from international audiences to collect the remaining $700 million needed to nab ultimate box office glory.
Much of “Avatar’s” striking box office haul came from overseas, where the movie earned over $2 billion alone. It surpassed the $100 million mark in nine countries outside of the U.S. — United Kingdom ($150 million), Spain ($109 million), South Korea ($111 million), Russia ($117 million), Japan ($171 million), Germany ($162 million), France ($175 million), Australia ($105 million), and China ($204 million).
“Avengers: Endgame” is benefitting from an equally impressive run at the international box office, hitting $1.5 billion in two weeks. That bounty is led predominately by China with a remarkable $511 million to date. Other top performing territories include the U.K. ($89.9 million), Korea ($82 million), Mexico ($61 million), Brazil ($56 million), and India ($51 million). In North America, “Avengers: Endgame” has amassed $620 million. “Avatar” ended its box office run in the States with $760 million, still the second-biggest haul in North America behind “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” with $936 million.
Like “Avatar,” “Avengers: Endgame” is also reaping the benefits of premium ticket prices that come with Imax and 3D technology. “Avatar” came at the height of 3D popularity, driving box office receipts even higher as moviegoers shelled out to get the ultimate cinematic experience. Directors Joe and Anthony Russo used Imax cameras to film “Endgame,” making it a must to see the film in the best quality possible. So far, Imax theaters have accounted for $170 million of “Avengers: Endgame” grosses, while just under $1 billion has come from 3D screens. Higher ticket fees are but a small price to pay to see Iron Man, Captain Marvel, Black Widow, and Ant-Man assemble on the big screen for what could be the last time.
“It’s very easy to get caught up in the excitement and put unrealistic expectations on a movie,” Dergarabedian said. “But it feels like unrealistic doesn’t apply to ‘Endgame.'”