Infinity War Box Office
Can we all just take a second to sit back and admire what Marvel Studios has been able to accomplish with Avengers – Infinity War and the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe?
In one day – ONE DAY!!!! – it became the fifth-highest-grossing domestic film of 2018 … and we’re starting May.
The money trail
The No. 1 film domestically and worldwide, for the moment? Another Marvel property, of course: Black Panther, which has now crossed $1.33 billion worldwide and is closing in on $700 million (currently at $688 million), domestically.
Side note: How cool was it, by the way, to hit the theater last week and notice that both Black Panther and Avengers were in first run, at the same time?
Black Panther owns the top of the 2018 leaderboard, for now, but Infinity War will undoubtedly overtake it over the next two or three months.
Infinity War scored $258,184,000 its opening weekend. That’s good enough to beat a film many thought would be untouchable, in terms of box office performance – Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which opened with $247.9 million in December 2015. The Force Awakens went on to gross a monstrous, record-breaking $937 million at the US box office and over $2 billion worldwide.
Could Avengers – Infinity War catch that Star Wars record?
Yes, but it won’t be easy.
Infinity War owns an “A” CinemaScore, which judges audience approval, and it has strong word of mouth, both from casual moviegoers and those deeply entrenched in everything MCU. People seeing the film for a second time were already trending on Twitter Sunday evening. That’s just three days after it hit wide release.
And as impressive as downing that Star Wars domestic record would be, Infinity War actually has a chance of becoming the first film to top $2.5 billion worldwide, as well.
According to BoxOfficeMojo.com, Infinity War earned $380 million from 72 percent of the international marketplace. That opening is second only to Fate of the Furious – a franchise that performs very, very well internationally. But Fate of the Furious had the benefit of opening in China. Infinity War has yet to do that.
In terms of total, worldwide debut (domestic plus international), Fate of the Furious manage $541.9 million, which included China.
Infinity War debuted with a worldwide total of $630 million. It was the No. 1 film in every territory and even set a new IMAX debut record for every territory, excluding China. It opens in Russia this weekend and will finally hit China on May 11, where it will likely receive another large box office boost.
Now, Infinity War is just the latest in a now decade-spanning run of success for Marvel Studios and its MCU experiment. And that’s what it was – an experiment.
When Nick Fury showed up in the credits for Iron Man back in summer 2008, no one knew it could ever get this big – except maybe Kevin Feige and everyone at Marvel, who put a plan in place almost immediately.
Now 19 films and 10 years in, the MCU has earned over $6.22 billion at the US box office and almost $15.5 billion worldwide. Those 19 films have an average production budget – according to the-numbers.com and a reported budget from the Wall Street Journal of $300 million for Infinity War – of $184 million per film for a total of about $3.5 billion in total production budget.
Using just domestic totals, that means that Disney and Marvel have made almost $3.5 billion from the MCU – again, that’s not even counting international money, which is spread among multiple distributors depending on country.
But what about the art?
Even more impressive than the box office performance has been Feige’s and Marvel’s ability to adapt and control the MCU’s storytelling machine. It’s an assembly line pumping out two to three films per year that not only perform superbly at the box office but also perform well critically.
Critics love the MCU. Even when we’re not thrilled with a film (cough – Iron Man 2 – cough), we acknowledge that it’s still better than most of the big-budget actioners hitting theaters in any given cycle.
The MCU has become – again, in just 10 years – the most ambitious and creatively successful art project in the history of modern media, i.e., television, film, streaming, video games and print.
Marvel has tied its franchises together through tie-in comics and video games. But they’ve also tied in the Agents of SHIELD television series (now finishing its fifth season) and five Netflix dramas – Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist and Defenders.
Through television, streaming and films, the Marvel Cinematic Universe now has over 350 hours of scripted content.
Think about that.
If you wanted to watch the entire MCU, from Iron Man to Infinity War, without taking a break, it would take over 14-and-a-half days.
They did this in 10 years!
Science fiction and fantasy franchises have always lended themselves to fanatical followings, and the MCU is certainly not the first franchise to try to span decades and mediums.
Doctor Who has been on television, in films and books, and on radio – all in a collectively coherent and shared universe – since the 1960s. Now, that’s amazing.
Star Trek, similarly, has had cross-medium appeal through the same, including comics and video games.
But Star Wars and George Lucas really set the bar high. Lucas created the modern definition of shared universe, and certainly, the MCU is taking its queues from what he was able to accomplish over a 30-year period. Lucas even tied a toy line into his narrative, not to mention all the Star Wars comics, video games and books that encompased this Extended Universe for so many years (before Disney wiped all of it out of canon and rebranded).
Where Lucas failed – and where Marvel certainly isn’t failing – was in actual live-action content. Lucas sat on the most popular film franchise in history for 16 years without capitalizing on its popularity. He stopped making films. He stopped making television specials. He let others take over and run Star Wars, and by the time he released the prequel trilogy, the audience had grown up – a lot. We certainly were in no mood for Jar Jar.
The MCU has experienced no such troubles or creative bumps in the road. There are no Jar Jars in the Marvel universe … so far.
What Feige, Marvel and Disney have created is artistically amazing. And whether or not you’re a fan of the MCU, you should be able to understand and appreciate exactly what they’ve been able to accomplish.
We’re already seeing copycats. Certainly, Disney is modeling its new control of the Star Wars universe after what Marvel has done with the MCU. And Warner Bros. and DC are trying really hard to get the same thing going with their heroes and villains.
Right now, genre films are saving theaters. The MCU and its films might be what keep certain theater chains going for the next 10 years.
Even 10 years in, the artistic resonance of the MCU can’t yet be measured. In 2028, we will still be trying to figure out how the universe and Marvel Studios are continuing to change cinema and pop culture.