In this year of finales, the most anticipated of them all arrives this weekend. I'd also say it launches the summer season, but then again it's still April, and studios have wrecked the concept of seasons forever. But I digress; what's likely the biggest weekend of the year happens now.
Weekend Forecast for April 26-28, 2019
By Reagen Sulewski
April 25, 2019
Avengers: Endgame is definitely not the end of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It's not even, as we found out this week (thanks for the spoilers, Feige!), the end of Phase 3 of the MCU, with that honor falling to the upcoming Spider-Man movie. But after 11 years and 22 films, Endgame represents something of a bow tied around a good portion of this project to bring Marvel's roster of superheros and stories to the big screen, possibly the most ambitious project ever devoted to film. Seriously, this all makes Peter Jackson look like a slacker.
When last we left the main Avengers story line, we had lost exactly half of the life in the universe thanks to Thanos's collection of the Infinity Stones and his "snap," designed to save its finite resources. This mad plan has plunged the universe into chaos and despondence, with the remaining heroes banding together again to figure out if they can possibly fight back and make things right again. That is, if they're not stranded in space somewhere slowly dying. While there's a little bit of anti-climaticism built into the premise (guyz, Marvel totally is killing off all of its new branch of superheros, 4 real 4 real), seeing how they're going to extract themselves from this situation, and what it's going to cost in terms of character is going to be an incredible magic act.
Our remaining roster at the start of the film includes Captain America, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Hulk, Thor, Rocket, Iron Man (the stranded in space one), and in a surprise reveal to most of the others, Ant-Man, back somehow from the quantum realm. There's also the newest member of the roster of characters, Captain Marvel, who's been hyped to be the most powerful character so far and probably the anchor for Phase 4, whatever that turns out to be. There's a pall hanging over all of them though, like a super-powered version of The Leftovers. Advance work on the film has done a great job of making the impact of those losses feel real, and a big challenge in this film will be to live up to that in terms of its stakes and resolution.
The biggest concern heading into this film had to be that general superhero fatigue might have set in - many series have lost steam right at the finish line as they become overstuffed with plot and character. Making that complaint at this point would be kind of weird, though, and it's leapt over the chasm of potential fatigue. We're all pot committed now.
Thankfully, early reviews have this living up to its anticipated goodness and proving to be a satisfying resolution to this whole arc. Whether the future of the MCU still looks as bright is a running conversation, but that's Tomorrow Us's problem. Today Us just wants to see the end of the story.
If we're looking at comparisons, Harry Potter actually seems like the most reasonable, as it was one of the longer running franchises that then split its finale in two, with a 35 percent increase in opening weekend for that last film over anything that had come before. The bad version of this was The Hunger Games, which ended up more than 50 per cent lower than the peak, or The Hobbit, which jump limped on home through three, insanely too long movies. If you want to find a lesson here, there's not much more complicated than "make good movies that people want to see," tautological as that may be. It's especially clear in contrast to DC's efforts, which have been much more hit and miss and never able to build any amount of good will from one film to the next. Meanwhile, Marvel's been able to make Ant-Man and the Guardians of the Galaxy into viable, beloved characters and linchpins of their grander story.
Infinity War was slightly overshadowed last year domestically by Black Panther, but its still the holder by a solid margin of the opening weekend record, at $257.7 million. Presales went into place weeks in advance and immediately set records. That anticipation is great but doesn't necessarily pack more butts in seats - sold out is sold out. The biggest obstacle to any records would be Endgame's run time of just over three hours, which in theory limits screenings. But with little in the way of competition for screens (perhaps one other movie might gross more than $10 million this weekend, even without factoring in Avengers-mania) - half or more of a theater's screenings can easily be Endgame.
And honestly, that's probably a low number if we went dollar for dollar. It could be as high as 90 percent of all of this weekend's box office going towards Endgame. Any doubts about whether the Russo Brothers could deliver a satisfying end to this saga appear to have been answered, and the hype game has been played just right - it's a confident Disney that isn't being pushy, just presenting what people want. If you can find anyone who would bet against the opening weekend falling right now, scrounge up what you can and take them on. This should easily break the opening weekend record, pulling in $282 million.
If we look way way way down from the mountain that Endgame will sit on, we might be able to see the second place movie. The Curse of La Llorona, the third(!) spin-off from The Conjuring series, had a solid $26 million start - well below other entries in the series, but a solid success given its slim $9 million production budget. All of the films in this series have been one-week wonders even when taking genre into account, so this should drop a massive amount to $11 million.
In other superhero news, Shazam! had a decent third weekend, dropping just a third and crossing $120 million domestic. While DC isn't ready to challenge the Marvel universe again, small successes like this are laying a foundation for some sort of mega-team-up - maybe of the C-Squad? Meanwhile, this week it should land around $10 million.
Captain Marvel actually had a small uptick last weekend as people went in as homework/hyping themselves up for the Endgame release. This is pretty similar to how people treated Black Panther last year, and it'll maybe be a nice choice for double headers or sell-outs this weekend, earning around $7 million.
Religious drama Breakthrough opened to $11 million in wide release after a small limited run. Legs aren't typical for these films - they tend to play to captive and pre-sold audiences, so this should drop to around $6 million this weekend.
Little wraps things up for our significant films, with the generation swap comedy looking to come in with around $5 million in its third weekend, headed towards a $45 million domestic total.