April 2019 Box Office Recap
By Steven Slater
May 15, 2019
Alms for the poor! Alms for the poor! You, kind sir! Might I implore you to spare a penny for a poor, destitute studio? Times are tough, winter has come, and that greedy corporate behemoth known as Walt Disney Studios has trampled over every little studio. What? Well, no, they didn’t do anything illegal, they just bought up some smaller properties...yes, I see. Well, I suppose that could be forgiven, but just look how many screens Avengers was playing on, it’s not fair! Give others a chance, right? What? You loved Avengers? Well, sure, it was a decent enough film, but that’s not the point! I mean, my God, soon there will be no rated-R dramas because they just never do those! Where’s a director like David Fincher to go? Oh, yes, he is doing some things on Netflix. Are you telling me there’s no turning back!? Are we forever doomed to see spectacle after spectacle in glorious CGI shades of laser color in our Dolby Atmos enhanced theaters? No, I think I would rather just jump off here, thanks. Take this can of coins and distribute it to the poor, would you? I think Paramount over there is on its last legs...
In case you were living in a time warp, this April was a month to remember. First of all, Avengers, and last of all, Avengers. This April was the largest in history, beating 2018 by about the exact amount Avengers: Endgame opened higher than Avengers: Infinity War. This year movies earned $1.034 billion at the domestic box office in April, of which nearly half was earned in the final five days. Records fell all around, so let’s cut to the chase and get right to it!
1) Avengers: Endgame
Opening Weekend: $357.1 M
Monthly Total: $427.1 M
The Avengers movies have always been the crown jewel on Marvel’s dominant empire. Of all Marvel films released since Iron Man started it all, only the Avengers films have ever achieved the largest opening weekend records. The first Avengers film was the first film to break $200 million in a weekend. Then last year’s Infinity War edged out The Force Awakens by a mere $10 million, achieving $257 million, albeit with a smaller per screen average. Finally, Endgame has ruled them all by a ridiculous degree. It smashed the opening weekend record by $100 million, earning enough all by itself to already make it the largest weekend of all time. The opening weekend record has not been decimated like this since Return of the Jedi earned $23 million in 1983, beating Star Trek II’s measly $14.3 million. 1989’s Batman was also a pretty big leap, opening to $40.5 million and overtaking a one week champ, Ghostbusters II’s $29.4 million. But in the era of modern blockbusters, the numbers posted by Avengers are beyond belief. After all, in just one weekend, Endgame was the 47th largest domestic release of all time and the 18th largest worldwide release of all time. It earned nearly half of global champ Avatar’s haul within three days! (Never mind a few extra days here and there in some countries). It is even possible that Endgame topples the records currently held by The Force Awakens and Avatar for domestic and worldwide grosses, if not the foregone conclusion opening weekend would make it appear.
After films have been opening from $200 to $250 million for seven years, how in the world did Avengers: Endgame smash expectations of what could be delivered in a mere three days (and change)? Well, there were more theaters showing this film than any previous movie, showing it 24 hours a day is most cases, screening in all the premium theaters and formats, and most shows were sold out. The ceiling does exist somewhere, but I cannot fathom any film breaking Endgame’s record for quite some time. Avengers will probably top the list next month as well, as it buoys box office after a very tepid start to the year. The list of records noted for Endgame on its opening weekend over at BoxOfficeMojo.com totals a staggering 21, with my opinion being the most impressive are the opening weekend record, the 90% market share record, and the theater average of $75,075. We shall not see their kind for a long, long time, not in this galaxy anyway.
Opening Weekend: $53.5 M
Monthly Total: $132.1 M
Living perpetually in a shadow is April’s other superhero film, Shazam! Warner Bros. feeble attempt to show they still have game when it comes to comic book movies, Shazam! stars the other Captain Marvel. It’s true, whenever Hollywood does something once, they do it twice back to back! Shazam!, forcing me to write far more exclamations than I am currently emoting, at least managed to earn its budget back and received decent reviews. After opening modestly, it will earn somewhere around a 2.6 multiplier, neither amazing nor horrendous. The best that can be said about Shazam! is that it will continue to remove the stench of Zach Snyder, so that by next year we will hardly remember his name. Sorry to jump on the bandwagon of hate on the man, but who seriously decided to put him in charge of the DC movies after Sucker Punch? Anyways, back to Shazam!, it will be lucky to reach $140 million, which ultimately does not feel like it is enough. Globally $400 million may be in the cards.
Monthly Total: $61.8 M
Running Total: $107.8 M
Dumbo may be the third highest grossing film in it’s second month of release, but that still does not preclude it from being thought of as a let down. Our first holdover of the month, Tim Burton’s reimagining of the animation classic opened decently enough, but has suffered large weekend drops for a film aimed at children. Unable to get anywhere close to its $170 million budget, it remains to be seen how other Disney remakes fare later this month and year. Not an outright bomb, this continues an unfortunate trend for Tim Burton as his past few films have all disappointed critically and at the box office. $100 million was once a remarkable figure, but in an era where Endgame achieves that much in less than 24 hours, we all know the elephant who can fly deserves more.
4) Captain Marvel
Monthly Total: $61.4 M
Running Total: $415.4 M
Proving it is Marvel’s world and we are just drifting past, Captain Marvel hung on to Avenger’s coattails and was able to boost its total further in its second month. As has been noted, on Endgame’s opening weekend, the number two film was Captain Marvel, then in its eighth weekend of release. This means the Captain is now the largest MCU film outside of Avengers and Black Panther, and it actually has out-earned Panther internationally. As the second female-led superhero film to eclipse $400 million domestic, the era of the all-male superhero team is over. Scarlett Johansson is still waiting patiently to reap the promised benefits. Captain actually has had extremely low or even positive weekend returns, a true rarity, as the month of April was a launching pad for Avengers and all ancillary properties. Having this, Endgame and Shazam! all in theaters the same month and either doing good or amazing business shows there is room for plenty of superheroes. Sorry, Hellboy, we’ll get to you.
5) Pet Sematary
Opening Weekend: $24.5 M
Monthly Total: $53 M
Once more the annals of box office are here to shame us. Coming in fifth place for the month, 2019’s Pet Sematary will be unable to match the domestic box office of the original, from thirty long years ago. Perhaps the late 1980’s were a bigger time for Stephen King adaptations, although It’s recent haul was by far the biggest for a film based on his works. With weekends drops as high as 70%, this will be gone by the time you finish this sentence. Some things that are dead should remain dead.
Monthly Total: $45.3 M
Running Total: $173.2 M
We, as in multiple I’s, are stunned that Us has fallen so quickly. With an opening more than double that of Peele’s previous feature, Get Out, Us will yet be unable to reach the former’s domestic total. The only explanation appears to have been that Avengers sucked all the wind out of movie theaters, as Us lost a ton of screens that weekend, and saw a halving of the per screen average. All told Us should have crossed $180 million, but will ultimately fall just a couple million short of Get Out’s $176 million haul. Still an amazing achievement, but it pains me that the final multiplier will be less than 2.5 after great buzz and decent reception. Get Out was obviously more the exception, and Us follows the rules for horror films.
7) The Curse of La Llorona
Opening Weekend: $26.3 M
Monthly Total: $43.5 M
Not a film from Guillermo del Toro, this is instead an ancillary property from the Conjuring franchise (the CCU). The connection was always threadbare, however, as Curse will earn far less than the other five Conjuring films, the lowest being Annabelle’s $84 million. With typical horror weekend drops as high as, again, 70%, this one will at least be wildly profitable, given the $9 million budget. April seems to have been packed with like-minded films all around, and with Us and Pet Sematary also vying for horror-seeking crowds, this may have seen more success around Halloween. Hellboy straddled both crowded marketplaces and, well, we’ll get to Hellboy soon.
Opening Weekend: $15.4 M
Monthly Total: $36.6 M
Number eight on the charts this month is Little, yet another reimagining, this time based off the classic Big (this May, we get Dirty Rotten Scoundrels Redux). Nothing remarkable ever comes from these efforts, and yet here we are. Little opened with small numbers for a film such as this, and has shown little staying power. With a small budget of $20 million, however, a final total just over $40 million may make this a winner in the end. Believe it or not, the 1988 film had a sizable opening for the time, at $8.2 million, and had a domestic finish light years ahead of Little’s with $115 million, or over $250 million today. Big was big, and Little is, well, small.
Opening Weekend: $11.3 M
Monthly Total: $28.2 M
Between movies like Breakthrough and Unplanned, we have our modern religious-themed films, quite comfortable to remain within certain political constraints. Breakthrough is the more broadly appealing, as it is based on the true story of a boy who slipped under ice for 15 minutes and yet survived. Though not a box office breakthrough by any stretch, this film will quietly earn a tidy sum, more than making back its $14 million dollar budget. Also, this Fox film is now part of Disney’s oeuvre, earning them a few bucks in the Scrooge McDuck coffers, as I imagine them.
Opening Weekend: $12 M
Monthly Total: $21.6 M
If there was a bomb this month, Hellboy is it. Even with the pedigree of being based on a comic book (sorry, Graphic Novel), this reboot starring everyone’s favorite sheriff and/or Tide salesman did not live up to del Toro’s original. In a month filled with comic books films and horror fare, this was the odd man out. The 2004 incarnation of Hellboy was more imaginative and better reviewed by far, leading to a decent $23 million open and $59 million finish. 2019’s version, as is the trend, will not live up to the past, with an opening around 50% of the original, and a finish that is lucky to be a third of that $59 million. The director of The Descent has perpetually been unable to achieve great success, although I hear he directed a few episodes of Game of Thrones, which is supposed to be a thing, right?
Just outside the top ten we have Laika’s Missing Link with $15.7 million, a far cry from Kubo’s $48 million, After with $11.7 million, Unplanned with $11.4 million, The Best of Enemies with $10 million, and Five Feet Apart with $9.6 million. With that list we also have the top ten openers of the month. Of all the money earned by films in their opening weekend this month, Endgame’s opening accounted for about 70% of that total, another superlative to add onto the pile. With summer season in full swing, we will see what titles strike it rich this next month, as ever in the shadow of Avenger’s mighty figure.