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'Avengers: Endgame' Turns Previous Box Office Record To Dust

Apr 29, 2019
Originally published on April 30, 2019 1:01 pm
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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The Avengers were warned in their last movie, "Infinity War," that an intergalactic villain intended to wipe out half the universe.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR")

ZOE SALDANA: (As Gamora) He can do it with the snap of his fingers - just like that.

CORNISH: Well, snap - folks disappeared again this weekend into movie theaters, not dust. More than a hundred million people went to see "Avengers: Endgame" in its first weekend. NPR's Bob Mondello says what got turned to dust were Hollywood's record books.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: By Friday evening, "Avengers: Endgame" had already posted the biggest single-day box office figure in North American history, also the biggest international opening. And those two combined gave it the biggest global opening weekend.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "AVENGERS: ENDGAME")

MARK RUFFALO: (As Bruce Banner) Just like that?

CHRIS EVANS: (As Captain America) Yeah, just like that.

MONDELLO: The previous global record holder had been "Avengers: Infinity War" with a first weekend of $640 million. "Endgame" having already breezed past that, the Avengers were competing chiefly with themselves with two days to go. Things only got bigger from there - the biggest Saturday ever in North America, the biggest Sunday. And today, Disney announced that "Endgame" had nearly doubled the previous global weekend record by raking in an astonishing $1,223,000,000.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER")

HAYLEY ATWELL: (As Peggy Carter) All we can do is our best. And sometimes the best we can do is to start over

MONDELLO: Marvel started laying the groundwork for "Endgame" more than a decade ago, beginning with the first "Iron Man" movie in 2008. By this weekend, the Marvel Cinematic Universe included 21 superhero epics - "Thor," "Black Panther," "Captain Marvel" and others conceived not as standalone films or even as just sequels but as chapters in a saga that was careening headlong towards a big endgame. With signature teaser scenes at the end of each film setting up some new development in this wider framework, those 21 movies served, in a way, as 40 hours-plus of previews. So everyone expected the finale to open big, just not this big.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "AVENGERS: ENDGAME")

ROBERT DOWNEY JR: (As Iron Man) I know I said no more surprises, but I was really hoping to pull off one last one.

MONDELLO: With most films, when you adjust for ticket inflation, a movie released many years ago - say, "Gone With The Wind" back when people paid about 25 cents a ticket - will turn out to have done just as well in terms of attendance. And that may still end up being the case with "Endgame"...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "AVENGERS: ENDGAME")

DOWNEY: (As Iron Man) We're the Avengers.

MONDELLO: ...By the time it ends its run.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "AVENGERS: ENDGAME")

DOWNEY: (As Iron Man) We're here to finish this.

MONDELLO: But "Endgame" opened in more theaters than any film ever and in more auditoriums in those theaters, and it opened overseas in every territory but Russia, where it opens this week, all of which means "Endgame" has been seen in theaters by more people more rapidly than any film in history, which may affect its staying power.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "AVENGERS: ENDGAME")

DOWNEY: (As Iron Man) It's about how much we have left.

MONDELLO: That's exactly right. Having opened this wide, will "Endgame" still have what the industry calls legs? "E.T." was the No. 1 box office hit in June of 1982, and it was still in the box office Top 10 11 months later. "Titanic" in 1997 managed six months in the Top 10. But "Endgame" isn't likely to do that because so much of the audience has already seen it. In fact, it'll be a test case for how saturation booking - where a film plays all at once in virtually every multiplex on the planet - affects its long-term playability.

For the moment, though, it all comes down to this. "Avengers: Endgame" can legitimately claim to have vaporized Hollywood's record books. Globally after just its first weekend, it is the 18th highest-grossing movie ever. And by the end of its first full week, it will likely have rocketed into the top 10. I'm Bob Mondello.

(SOUNDBITE OF ALAN SILVESTRI'S "THE AVENGERS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.