Box Office: ‘Avengers: Endgame’ Tops ‘Avatar’ Domestically But May Not Top ‘Avatar’ Globally

Walt Disney and Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame earned around $29.89 million in its fourth weekend of domestic release, dropping 52.7% and bringing its domestic total to $771.2 million. That’s a weekend drop on par with those of Captain America: Civil War (-53.3%) and Avengers: Age of Ultron (-52.6%).

We’re still looking at a domestic finish between $850 million and $895 million. And it has already passed the raw domestic gross (with the late-summer 2010 reissue) of James Cameron’s Avatar ($760 million) to become the second-biggest domestic grosser ever. It’s certainly not catching Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($937 million) to be the biggest domestic earner. But at this juncture, it’s going to be an exceptionally close call as to whether it passes the $2.788 billion cume of Avatar to take the top spot worldwide.

Two weeks ago, a global cume above $2.788 billion looked almost certain. Following a $2.223 billion 12-day global cume, the film earned $44 million worldwide on its second Monday, with just $10.7 million in North America and $5 million in China, meaning it was continuing to earn nearly 3.5x its domestic gross overseas even without China. But then Detective Pikachu showed up and did just enough damage to put that notion in doubt. It was a harsh 63% overseas drop for its third global weekend, leaving the film with just under $2.5 billion. But this weekend, it earned $76 million worldwide, including $47 million overseas, essentially dropping 53% worldwide for a new $2.614 billion global cume. So what seemed almost certain two weeks ago is now very much in doubt.

The core reason is arguably the simplest one: competition. Avengers: Endgame opened a week before the conventional early May summer kick-off slot both here and abroad, giving it an extra weekend (especially in North America) before it faced any real competition. But even if Detective Pikachu didn’t play like The LEGO Movie on steroids (a $284 million global cume as of yesterday), it still did enough damage to nick Earth’s mightiest heroes. And to whatever extent Pikachu underperformed (if only in comparison to my overly optimistic predictions), John Wick: Chapter 3 turned out to be a relative monster, earning $57 million in North America and $92 million worldwide. If Avengers 4 was hoping for a breather between Pikachu and Aladdin, it didn’t happen. And now, it’s an endless spree of potentially big movies.

This weekend offers Walt Disney’s own Aladdin alongside Sony’s Brightburn. The end of May will offer three movies (Warner’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Paramount’s Rocketman and Universal’s Ma) that could (relatively speaking) overperform. By that point, Endgame’s run will 94% finished. So, where will be it by the time June begins? Well, if it plays “normal” going forward, it’ll top $800 million domestic on Sunday or Monday and end its domestic run with around $870 million. That said, Avengers: Infinity War faced one big movie (Deadpool 2), one big disappointment (Solo), a mini-major (Ocean’s 8) and otherwise clear skies until Incredibles 2 on June 15. If Aladdin, Godzilla 2 and Rocketman all perform up to par, it won’t matter if Fox’s Dark Phoenix or Sony’s Men in Black International fumble.

Overseas is a similar story, especially with John Wick: Chapter 3 not just being a domestic biggie. By this time last year, Avengers: Endgame had earned $595 million domestic, $1.218 billion overseas and thus $1.813 billion worldwide. It went on to earn $2.048 billion global by the end. Endgame has now earned $1.844 billion overseas, or around $185 million below Avatar’s $2.029 billion overseas cume and $2.614 billion worldwide. If Endgame plays likewise going forward, it will end with $2.952 billion, which is well above what it needs to earn. But if the weight of the competition on tap is too much, then a total closer to $2.765 billion, or just $23 million away, may be in order. Yes, Avengers: Endgame could stick around and still miss Avatar by “that” much.

Whether or not Avengers: Endgame passes the lifetime global cume of Avatar may ironically be decided by how well Walt Disney’s costly and very important Aladdin performs alongside Fox’s (now Disney’s) Dark Phoenix over the next month. Possible reissues or award seasons pushes notwithstanding, since James Cameron’s Avatar is now under the Disney umbrella, I wouldn’t expect them to go out of their way to push Avengers 4 over the finish line. After all, they are going to be marketing Avatar 2 for December of 2021, and it’ll be that much easier if they still have the whole “biggest movie ever” thing going for them. Nonetheless, the prospect of Avengers: Endgame being the biggest movie ever (sans inflation and marketplace expansion) has gone from “probably gonna happen” to “too close to call.”

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