by Ray Keating
April 8, 2019
To the delight of Disney, superheroes just keep getting bigger at the box office – with the most momentous success coming late this month. Well, Avengers: Endgame (opening on April 26) better be the most successful – in terms of both story and revenue.
Despite a rather flat, flawed story that undermined certain characters and previous movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Captain Marvel (released on March 8) has raked in more than a billion dollars at the box office. (See the DisneyBizJournal review of the movie and early box office numbers.) Interestingly, if you check out RottenTomatoes.com, reviewers leaned positive on Captain Marvel, while audiences were not exactly enthralled. Yet, the movie made an enormous amount of money. Hmmm.
Meanwhile, Warner Brothers seems to be getting it right at the box office as well. Aquaman, which was released on December 21, 2018, made more than $1.1 billion. (All box-office numbers from BoxOfficeMojo.com unless otherwise noted.) Reviewers were not exactly huge fans of the film, while audience reviews were more positive.
And Shazam! just opened this past weekend, and it has taken in $159 million. I haven’t seen the movie yet (going on Tuesday night!), but both reviewers and audiences seem to love this film starring Zachary Levi (of NBC Chuck fame). For good measure, the film had a rather modest production budget for a superhero flick at $100 million. That’s a trifecta for Warner Brothers – loved by reviewers and audiences, box-office success, and some relative degree of cost control.
And then there’s the forthcoming movie... No, wait. Let’s call it the forthcoming phenomenon titled Avengers: Endgame.
During the first day of online presales early this month, records were shattered on Fandango, for example, and the traffic on the AMC theater chain website caused it to shut down. Some estimates put the opening weekend box-office haul for Endgame at $900 million – which would blow away every record around.
Avatar still holds the all-time global box-office record at $2.79 billion (in nominal dollars). I’m predicting that Avengers: Endgame will surpass that to become the top earner.
After all, this basically completes an amazing 22-film arc created by Marvel, while setting up future movies. My expectations certainly rate very high for a great movie. Obviously, I’m not alone in this, and that’s at least part of the reason why Captain Marvel did so well at the box office. As part of the MCU story, and being the final entry before Endgame, fans had to see Captain Marvel in preparation for the most anticipated movie ... well ... ever.
For Disney, the story with Captain Marvel is the opposite of what happened with Solo: A Star Wars Story. (Check out DisneyBizJournal’s take on Solo.) After the atrocious Star Wars: The Last Jedi, fans basically punished Disney by making Solo the worst box-office performer of any Star Wars film. In contrast, Avengers: Endgame helped make Captain Marvel a massive success.
The pressure is on Disney. What do I mean? Avengers: Endgame needs to be great to not only satisfy this incredible MCU journey moviegoers have been on, but also to justify having to sit through Captain Marvel.
Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of the Pastor Stephen Grant novels, with three books - Reagan Country: A Pastor Stephen Grant Novel, Heroes and Villains: A Pastor Stephen Grant Short Story and Shifting Sands: A Pastor Stephen Grant Short Story – published in 2018. In addition, the second edition of Warrior Monk: A Pastor Stephen Grant Novel was published in January 2019. He can be contacted at email@example.com.