‘Avengers: Infinity War’ Just Might Obliterate China’s Superhero Box Office Record

Sequel faces little competition in Middle Kingdom — which could help it break even more worldwide records

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Marvel Studios

“Avengers: Infinity War” reached $1.25 billion at the global box office on Thursday, and this weekend the hit movies is expected to storm into the top ten highest-grossing films of all time. That’s in large part because the Marvel film is finally opening in China, where interest in it has hit highs never before reached by a superhero movie in the country.

Estimates for ticket presales for “Avengers” have reached approximately $50 million, topping the country’s presale record set by “Monster Hunt 2” earlier this year and doubling the best presale performance by a Hollywood import, which was last year’s “The Fate of the Furious” with $25 million.

That’s not a guarantee “Infinity War” will pass either of those films on China’s box office charts, but it does show there’s as much interest in Marvel in the country as there is anywhere else in the world — and certainly more than Disney’s other big IP, “Star Wars,” which hasn’t had the same impact in the Middle Kingdom as it has elsewhere. China Film Insider analyst Jonathan Papish told TheWrap that over the past several years, audiences have turned up for films that offer more than one superhero.

“Solo superhero films seemed to have hit a plateau. They don’t get far beyond $100 million,” said Papish of trends among moviegoers in China. “But ensemble films like ‘Avengers’ and, to a lesser extent, ‘Captain America: Civil War,’ have gathered more interest.”

Papish added that the third “Avengers” film likely won’t sell many tickets among general audiences and in smaller Chinese markets, so weekday numbers should be muted. But hardcore Marvel fans should give it strong numbers in the weekends ahead, especially considering that “Deadpool 2,” which will draw away the comic book movie crowd in other countries starting next weekend, doesn’t have a release date in China.

The only major Hollywood import coming for the next three weeks that might be a speed bump for “Avengers” is “A Quiet Place,” John Krasinski’s horror movie that has become Paramount’s biggest domestic hit in nearly three years. But other than that, “Avengers” is expected to be China’s main blockbuster offering until “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” arrives on June 15.

This means that when all is said and done, “Infinity War” could set a new Chinese record for superhero movies, beating the $240 million made by “Avengers: Age of Ultron” three years ago. Between China’s opening and the holdover performance from the rest of the world (the film is expected to make $55-$60 million in its third weekend in the U.S.) “Infinity War” should make enough to become one of the top five highest grossing films of all-time and beat the all-time summer record set by 2015’s “Jurassic World” with $1.67 billion.

And if Thanos’ invasion especially over-performs in China, “Avengers” might have a chance of becoming only the third film ever — and first released in the summer — to gross $2 billion worldwide. It has already broken the global record as the film to fastest reach $1 billion.

“Whether or not the film hits $2 billion, I think the bigger story is how this film performs in a still-developing Chinese market,” said BoxOffice magazine managing editor Daniel Loria. “The Marvel Cinematic Universe has grown alongside the buying power of the Chinese box office, so it’s always difficult to directly compare how one superhero film does against another as more and more cineplexes and premium screens get added each year.”

“It will be interesting to see how an event film like this does in such a rapidly-growing market, and whether we see a big turn out at IMAX locations like we’ve seen in the rest of the world.”