Avengers: Infinity War just had the highest grossing opening weekend at the North American box office. Ever.
Avengers: Infinity War marks the 10th anniversary for Marvel Studios’ MCU, as well as the point that the entire interconnected mega-franchise has been building to since 2012’s The Avengers. And it would seem that the wait has been more than worth it for Marvel’s fans… as well as Disney’s coffers. Indeed, Disney announced its official estimate for the weekend box office Sunday morning as $250 million. While this is still an estimated number, it is a staggering achievement that not only blows past industry predictions pegging to open in the still astronomical range of $230 million to $240 million, but it also surpasses the opening weekend record previously held by Disney’s own Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
This is a major coup worthy of bragging rights by Disney’s superhero vertical, which has become the arguable star of box office and blockbuster entertainment in North America and Asia ever since 2012’s The Avengers also took this record by being the first movie to cross the $200 million-line in its opening weekend ($207.5 million to be more specific). That number has since been surpassed by Jurassic World and both of Disney’s “numeral” Star Wars movies (The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi). However, unlike the Star Wars saga, Marvel’s films have the benefit of playing very well in some foreign markets, like China, who have rarely warmed to the universe created by George Lucas.
In contrast, Avengers: Infinity War’s global cume is even more impressive considering it is estimated to have opened to a tune of $630 million, breaking the previous record holder, last year’s The Fate of the Furious, which saw a gross of $543 million in its global opening. Of that intake, $380 million was earned in non-North American countries. But what is especially eyebrow raising is the fact that the biggest non-American market, China, has yet to see Avengers: Infinity War open. So its seeming quest to gross “all the money in the world” is off to a hefty start.
These numbers follow another finely tuned marketing campaign by Disney, which had the benefit of good reviews and good audience WOM from all previous MCU mvoies. Additionally, the marketing sold Avengers: Infinity War as “the beginning of the end” of the Avengers franchise, which could arguably be misleading but still certainly did prepare audiences for a rather hard-hitting MCU superhero brawl. Of course a direct sequel is due out in roughly the same frame next spring, however the final Infinity War film did feel like the end of things as we know it. And audiences and critics largely agreed, as the film received a favorable Rotten Tomatoes score (currently sitting at 84 percent) and an “A” CinemaScore, which gauges audience word of mouth.
What might be interesting to see is how it compares to this year’s other major box office success story, Marvel’s Black Panther. While Black Panther opened smaller than Infinity War at $202 million, it also had euphoric WOM (an “A+” CinemaScore) and a long, leggy run. So far it has grossed $688 million at the North American box office (the highest number achieved by any superhero movie), which means it’s had a multiplier of about 3.4x—an unusually robust run for a modern blockbuster. Hence the curiosity around whether Infinity War can catch it in America, because despite its higher opening, it is also a heavier, darker film with a longer running time (which means fewer screenings in a day). And it also will see perhaps fiercer competition when Fox’s Deadpool 2 opens in three weeks.
But it’s really all moot, because at the moment, it seems like everything is coming up Marvel.