Avengers: Infinity War is going to be a box office phenomenon. We all know that. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been building up to this showdown with Thanos over the last six years. Fans are ready to see how the big battle shakes out. But, is the hype big enough to blow up the box office?
More specifically, could Avengers: Infinity War topple the biggest worldwide box office winner of all time? Yes, we’re going to take a look and see if Avatar will lose the title of the #1 movie of all time to Marvel’s epic crossover event.
Time of Release
When it comes to predicting box office, a huge factor that people don’t consider has nothing to do with the movie itself. In fact, the most important element of box office returns often comes down to a simple factor: when a movie comes out. And this is definitely going to be one of the key factors when pitting Avengers: Infinity War against Avatar.
Avengers: Infinity War is being positioned as the big event film of the summer. Its release on April 27 sets it up for a healthy run throughout the month of May. However, it’s going to compete with a few comparable releases as the month plays out. Deadpool 2 and Solo: A Star Wars Story will both be films that will be pulling a lot of audience members from any repeat viewings of Avengers: Infinity War. That’s a crucial facet to explore when stacking up Avengers: Infinity War next to Avatar.
Avatar got a huge advantage with its release thanks to dominating the December 2009 calendar. With the exception of Sherlock Holmes, there wasn’t a single release that came close to providing the kind of blockbuster experience that was offered by Avatar. Doubling down on that was the fact that Avatar had no relevant competition for nearly two months. Avengers: Infinity War doesn’t have that luxury and it’s going to be a big obstacle to overcome.
One of the ways Avengers: Infinity War can clear that hurdle is pushing its status as a piece of event cinema. While the Marvel Cinematic Universe films are all positioned as big blockbuster experiences, the Avengers films — and Captain America: Civil War as well — have always been marketed as a true event that must be seen. And Avengers: Infinity War is special in this regard thanks to its status as the culmination of every MCU movie up until now.
If the marketing and buzz for the film can stress the importance of seeing Avengers: Infinity War in a huge format, it certainly has a chance at exploding tickets sales through the roof. Between IMAX and many other larger format viewing experiences, Avengers: Infinity War can corner that market for a huge chunk of the summer.
But, it’s important to remember why Avatar was a different kind of event film. It was touted as a groundbreaking special effects film unlike anything ever before. Plus, it was the first film to stress the importance of seeing it in the theater thanks to its approach to an advanced type of 3D viewing. As 3D theatrical experiences have been on the decline, it’s possible that Avengers: Infinity War won’t get that bump from ticket sales. However, ticket prices are definitely more expensive than they were in 2009, and that inflation is definitely going to work in Avengers: Infinity War‘s favor.
Still, the one thing that’s going to make or break this battle is international dollars. Global audiences are more important than ever, and in cases like this, they supersede domestic audiences in terms of returns. Out of Avatar‘s nearly $2.8 billion worldwide gross, a little more than $2 billion of that came from international markets. Comparatively, Avengers: Age of Ultron has the biggest worldwide return of the MCU with a little less than $950 million.
It’d be interesting to know just how much Marvel is spending on advertising for Avengers: Infinity War in foreign markets. They know how important those dollars are to their bottom line. If they really want to blow Avatar out of the water, that’s where it’s going to happen.
But, it’s looking like Avengers: Infinity War has a very good chance of being the biggest domestic success of all time. Pre-sales for the film have far exceeded any superhero film on record. And with summer kicking off, it’s likely that the movie will play extremely well during the week as well as on weekends.
It’s likely that Avengers: Infinity War is going to eclipse Avatar on the domestic front. But, in worldwide and overall gross? That’s going to be a tougher battle but not an impossible one. We’ll find out which film reigns supreme very soon.
Avengers: Infinity War hits theaters on April 27.