“Avengers: Infinity War” has only been in theaters for two weeks and has already grossed nearly $1.2 billion worldwide, becoming the fastest film to hit the $1 billion mark in box office history. Now the question is, can it become the first summer movie ever to reach $2 billion worldwide?
It’s a box office mark that has only been reached by two films on their initial theatrical runs: “Avatar” with $2.7 billion and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” with $2.06 billion. “Titanic” grossed $1.8 billion in its original run and crossed the $2 billion mark after re-releases in 2012 and 2017. What all three of these films have in common is that they were released in December, allowing the film to run through January and February with little box office competition.
While there are many summer blockbusters that have grossed more than $1 billion, none have reached the level of “Avatar” simply because there are so many blockbusters in theaters during the season that no single one can keep audiences’ attention long enough to hit that impossible mark.
But by moving up the domestic release date for “Infinity War” to April 27 (it was originally set to come out on May 4), Disney has allowed the Marvel film to stretch out the time it will be the only blockbuster in theaters before “Deadpool” hits on May 18. The result? $1.16 billion grossed after just 12 days in global release, with another weekend alone in theaters as it opens in China.
“There are few films that can so radically change the look of the box office with just a one-week release-date move,” said comScore’s Paul Dergarabedian.
“Infinity War” changed how the industry looks at the first weekend of May as the “start of the summer,” added the box office analyst. “The second-weekend totals were less than the opening weekends of films like ‘Captain America: Civil War,’ which released at the start of May [in 2016]. But that hardly matters because of how ‘Infinity War’ had such an astronomic start the week before,” said Dergarabedian.
Using the performance of some past Marvel films and some back-of-the-napkin math to estimate how far “Avengers” could go — starting the count with the $1.18 billion it has grossed globally to date — “Infinity War” is expected to finish with a domestic cume of at least $700 million. (It has grossed $453 million domestically so far.) That should be about it as “Deadpool 2” is expected to open to $130-140 million when it bows on May 18, according to early tracking figures, and take the wind out of “Infinity War”‘s sails.
Over in China, the record for the highest-grossing Marvel movie in that country is “Avengers: Age of Ultron” with $240 million, a mark that “Infinity War” is expected to clear.
That means “Infinity War” should gross at least $500 million more in the U.S. and China during the remainder of its theatrical run.
Analysts who spoke to TheWrap also say they expect at least another $125-$150 million to be grossed by other overseas territories. That puts “Infinity War” at a global total of $1.8-$1.85 billion and needing about and extra $150 million to hit that $2 billion target.
Exhibitor Relations analyst Jeff Bock thinks that extra money could come from China, if the anticipation that has been built by the last two weeks worth of global audience reactions is big enough.
“We’re talking nickels and dimes here obviously because it’s going to make so much, but domestically it’s not going to earn enough to get that last push to $2 billion,” Bock said. “It’s going to come down to China and how it holds internationally. ‘Infinity War’ has already overperformed compared to ‘Age of Ultron,’ so if it does that in China’s massive market and makes $350 million in China, then yeah, it could hit $2 billion.”
It’s always tough for a film to reach that final milestone in the last weeks of its theatrical run. “Black Panther,” for example, is just $7 million away from becoming the third film ever to gross $700 million domestically. But with its digital home release coming this week, it may end up falling just short of that mark, though it has already exceeded everyone’s wildest expectations with a $693 million domestic run and a global total just above the $1.33 billion made by “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”
And even if “Avengers” also falls short of the most exclusive of all box office clubs, it is still widely expected to pass “Jurassic World” and its global total of $1.67 billion, becoming the biggest summer release of all-time.
“The analogy I like to use is Chuck Yeager trying to reach the speed of sound,” said Dergarabedian. “His plane was already going really fast but the hardest part was just getting that extra bit more to break the sound barrier. That would be the case with ‘Infinity War.’ The hardest part would be that final bit needed to reach the $2 billion mark, and it would have to make that money at a time when a lot of other big movies are going to be fresh in theaters.”