The first poster for Avengers: Endgame. (Source: Avengers Official Twitter Handle)

‘Avengers: Endgame’ $1.2 Billion Opening Shows Fanboys’ Role

(Bloomberg) -- “Avengers: Endgame” broke all kinds of box-office records over the weekend, powered by mostly male fans who did something uncharacteristic of the streaming era: lining up to see a premiere.

The movie took in $1.22 billion globally in its debut, collecting $357.1 million in the U.S. and Canada alone, and blowing through the $258 million mark held by the superhero team’s own gloved hands with last year’s “Infinity War.” Walt Disney Co. now boasts the top four spots for domestic opening weekends, rounded out by “The Last Jedi” and “The Force Awakens” from the Star Wars franchise, according to researcher Comscore Inc.

Optimism about the film helped send Disney shares on a four-day winning streak last week, with the stock hitting an all-time high on Friday. It retreated a bit on Monday, slipping 0.4 percent to $139.30.

‘Avengers: Endgame’ $1.2 Billion Opening Shows Fanboys’ Role

The crowds were 57 percent male, with the biggest cohort of 28 percent between the ages of 25 to 34 -- essentially the people who were there for the birth of the franchise in their teenage and early adult years. Families comprised just 18 percent of the audience, a figure that may rise after the initial crush of the testosterone crowd. Teenagers made up 11 percent.

“Anybody who could get tickets” is what determined the demographic breakdown over the opening weekend, Cathleen Taff, the president of distribution for Walt Disney Pictures, said in an interview. She expects more families and younger viewers to turn up to future screenings as the film plays on, adding that “it’s going to play for quite a while.”

The run for “Endgame” could continue with repeat viewings, with almost three out of every 10 patrons planning to watch the movie again in a theater, according to a PostTrak survey.

‘Avengers: Endgame’ $1.2 Billion Opening Shows Fanboys’ Role

“This may be the most significant moment in the modern history of the theater business,” said John Fithian, chief executive officer of the National Association of Theatre Owners. “What we’re excited about is that this historic weekend is the kickoff of what’s going to be a nine-month stellar run in the movie theater business.”

The success of “Endgame” was sorely needed balm for theaters in a year where the box office was lagging almost 17 percent behind the same period in 2018. The stellar opening helped narrow the year-to-date decline to 11 percent.

The film took in $330.5 million in China, just one of the opening records set in 44 countries, Disney said Sunday.

There was no shortage of superhero superlatives for “Avengers: Endgame”:

  • First film to exceed $1 billion in its opening, a level reached in five days.
  • A domestic record of $156.7 million on its first day, including Thursday night previews, beating the previous mark of $119 million held by “The Force Awakens” in 2015.
  • Highest all-time box office for any Saturday or Sunday as well.
  • Shown on 4,662 screens in the U.S. and Canada, the most ever.
  • Highest-grossing 3D opening of all-time worldwide, with approximately 45 percent of the opening coming from the 3D format, according to RealD Inc.

The picture, the latest installment from Disney’s Marvel studio, caps a 22-movie storyline that began with “Iron Man” in 2008. The Avengers superheroes, including Captain America, Hulk and Black Widow, are now battling the intergalactic villain Thanos, who was last seen wiping out half the living creatures in the universe.

‘Avengers: Endgame’ $1.2 Billion Opening Shows Fanboys’ Role

Disney, which also owns the Star Wars franchise and is usually cautious with forecasts, had originally suggested an opening weekend in the $300 million range. The company didn’t disclose the budget for the movie.

With this kind of juice, there’s every reason to believe “Endgame” will challenge the $2.07 billion worldwide gross of “The Force Awakens,” set in 2015. Only two other films in Hollywood history have taken in more: “Avatar” in 2009 and “Titanic,” released in 1997.

‘Avengers: Endgame’ $1.2 Billion Opening Shows Fanboys’ Role

The Marvel machine has been a huge moneymaker for Disney. Last year’s “Infinity War,” for example, earned an estimated $985 million in profit, including TV, toys and theater ticket sales, according to S&P Global.

Looking forward, Disney’s Taff wouldn’t say whether it was possible to top this record.

“While this is an end in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it is certainly not THE end,” she said. “It’s going to open up a whole new world of possibilities.”

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.