Avengers: Endgame Passes $1 Billion In Gross Receipts

Avengers: Endgame earned $1 billion worldwide in its first weekend, but it will take a lot more to become the biggest grossing movie of all time.

Avengers: Endgame has only been out for a week, but it’s already become one of its biggest movies of all time. In just one week the movie has grossed some $365 million in the United States and over $1 billion worldwide, putting it on track to be the biggest grossing movie in Hollywood history. Even more amazing is the fact that it managed to do this over the course of just a few days, setting yet another record for Hollywood. As Business Insider notes, though, it will take some work for the movie to outperform some of its predecessors, once you factor in inflation:

In just a few days, “Avengers: Endgame” has become one of the biggest movies of all time.

The latest in the Marvel Cinematic Universe grossed $356 million domestically and $1.2 billion worldwide in its opening weekend, exceeding projections and shattering records left and right. It’s the biggest domestic opening weekend and biggest worldwide opening of all time, for starters.

But can “Avengers: Endgame” rocket to the top? After its monumental debut, it’s projected to be the first movie to crack $3 billion at the worldwide box office. That would finally beat 2009’s “Avatar,” the record-holder, with $2.8 billion.

But “Avatar” is the biggest movie only before inflation. “Endgame” has a much tougher hill to climb if it wants to beat “Gone with the Wind,” the highest-grossing movie ever after adjusting for inflation.

“Gone with the Wind,” originally released in 1939, grossed $189 million domestically (not counting its multiple re-releases) and $402 million worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo.

Just how big a gap is there once you adjust for inflation? A pretty big one it turns out:

The “Gone with the Wind” worldwide total today would be an astounding $7.4 billion, according to this consumer-price-index inflation calculator. The movie’s domestic total would be $3.5 billion, based on the calculator.

Box Office Mojo calculates inflation by adjusting to a given year’s average US ticket price — $9.01 this year — and doesn’t calculate worldwide-box-office inflation. But according to Box Office Mojo, the movie’s domestic total would be $1.8 billion with inflation.

Either way, “Avengers: Endgame” would have to perform beyond anyone’s wildest dreams to beat “Gone with the Wind.”

Here’s how Box Office Mojo ranks the blockbusters of the past and present after adjusting for inflation. The list includes some 300 movies but I’ll post just the top 25:

As you can see, there isn’t a single movie from the 21st Century in the top ten notwithstanding the fact that we’ve plenty of incredibly high grossing movies during that time period. Additionally, the most recently released movie in the top ten, 1997’s Titanic, was released some twenty-two years ago. To find a movie from the last 20 years you have to go to 11th place, which is currently occupied by the seventh movie in the Star Wars saga, The Force Awakens. In fact there are only three movies from the 21st century in the Top 25 list, The Force Awakens, Avatar, and Jurassic World.

This type of comparison is, of course, somewhat arbitrary. For one thing, the movie business has changed significantly since 1939 when Gone With The Wind was released. There are far more movie theaters today than there were 80 years ago, for example, and most of those theaters have more than one screen, meaning that the same movie can be shown in multiple theaters at the roughly the same time and more people can see it without having to wait for the theater to be available for the next showing. Last Friday night, for example, I saw several examples on social media of multiple-plex theaters where Avengers: Endgame was showing on all, or nearly all, of the theater’s available screens at roughly the same time. This obviously meant that more people could see it opening weekend and the movie’s gross box office receipts would reflect that. Additionally, the fact that there are now multiple formats in which a movie can be shown, such as 3-D, IMAX and other similar formats, and that many of these formats charge different prices from a “regular” screening means that a movie released in this era has a chance to make huge amounts of money just because of the format in which it was released. Finally, movies today are judged by their worldwide receipts, something that was not even a factor in the movie business until about the 1990s or so. Avengers: Endgame is, at least for the moment, at 101st place on the list.

Another factor to keep in mind is that Hollywood has strange rules that determine whether or not a movie is profitable. In some cases, this has led to litigation between studios and those who signed contracts that give them certain percentages of receipts net of expenses. To put it mildly, these lawsuits have shown that the accounting rules in Hollywood are a bit different than what you might find in the business world.

So when you hear about the records that Endgame is setting, remember that comparing those numbers to the money earned by Gone With The Wind, Ben-Hur, or The Godfather is like comparing apples and oranges.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, Entertainment
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. wr says:

    …which is why no one compares a contemporary film gross to Gone With The Wind or the others. They just count the cash coming over the till. And Endgame, which has actually grossed around $1.8 billion worldwide and will pass $2 billion by Saturday has plenty of that. So much that even a studio as creative as Disney can’t hide all the profits. According to Deadline, it managed to break even (with a worldwide $1.1 billion gross) by the third full day of its release…

  2. EddieInCA says:

    The most amazing stat to me, of these top 25, is that two filmmakers, Spielberg and Lucas, are directly responsible for a full 40% of the movies on this list. Think about that for a moment.

    Two filmmakers have 10 of the 25 most successful movies of all time.

    That’s ridiculous.

  3. Kathy says:

    Well, if it beats Avatar, it will be the biggest movie I waited to see on basic cable. The wait might be so long, basic cable won’t exist when it finally shows 🙂

    That aside, looking at the chart I’m surprised 101 Dalmatians scores so high. I recall seeing the movie, I recall nothing else about it. There was this theater long ago called Cine Continental that showed Disney movies almost exclusively (it had large, colorful figures of Disney characters on the facade), in the 1970s and 80s. Absent new movies, it showed older ones. I think I saw all the classic Disney animated movies there, most of which were long before my time.

  4. Gustopher says:

    I’m surprised The Graduate rates so high. It would be a little art house movie if it was released now.

  5. Stormy Dragon says:

    One big thing you leave out here is why so many of the movies with a “^” next to their year, which indicates they had multiple theatrical runs.

    As the note attached to that symbol specifically states, this makes it nearly impossible to get meaningful adjusted gross numbers for those movies because the studios don’t release how much of the gross came from what year.

    The 2 billion number is based on the assumption that all of the money Gone with the Wind earned was earned in 1939, which we know wasn’t the case.

  6. Stormy Dragon says:

    There also seems to be some sort of bug with the BoxOfficeMojo database, since it currently ways that Avengers: Endgame came out in 1993

  7. Stormy Dragon says:

    Finally, movies today are judged by their worldwide receipts, something that was not even a factor in the movie business until about the 1990s or so. Avengers: Endgame is, at least for the moment, at 101st place on the list.

    It’s currently 5th on the worldwide grosses list: https://www.boxofficemojo.com/alltime/world/

  8. James Pearce says:

    The exhibitor industry’s “making more money from fewer eyeballs” is panning out.

    (Also memo to the NYT, “releasing content to paying audiences in an exclusive venue” might be the answer to your troubles.)

  9. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    Why is Eddie Guerrero standing behind Scarlett Johansson on that movie poster shot? I thought he died quiet a few years ago.

    ETA: And while I’m here, THREE HOURS long??? WTF?

  10. Tyrell says:

    I read somewhere that the movie “Frozen” made billions and is still making tons of money – off the merchandise. “Frozen” was everywhere: t-shirts, toys, tissue boxes, lanyards, yard flags, clocks, snowglobes, Christmas tree ornaments, key chains, pencils, book bags, notebooks. You could have gone to Outer Mongolia and seen “Frozen” stuff for sale. And that does not include money made off the music. Numbers like $500 billion were being thrown around.

  11. michael reynolds says:

    Finally saw it. An amazing bit of work by Christopher Markus, the screenwriter. Also of course impressive FX. But I find I sort of edit-out green screen effects as boring. Oooh, these pixels are fighting those pixels using some other pixels. It amounts to watching numbers. It’s an illustrated math test. Amazing use of math and coding and I just don’t give a sht. Not to mention the fact that time travel never, ever, ever makes any kind of sense. And add in the fact that I cannot be unaware of the superfluous non-story factors – make sure we see every possible character ever and give them each some business to perform. Half the movie is just name-checking Marvel stars. Kudos to the writers for pulling it off, but did it make for an interesting story? No. A week from now I’ll have forgotten I ever saw it.

  12. wr says:

    @michael reynolds: ” An amazing bit of work by Christopher Markus, the screenwriter”

    Markus is only half the screenwriter — he works with a partner, Stephen McFeely, and together they’ve written all the Captain Americas as well as Infinity War and Michael Bay’s only good movie Pain and Gain.

    Not to be finicky, but as a former half of a team I’m a little sensitive to this kind slight!

  13. wr says:

    @michael reynolds: ” Oooh, these pixels are fighting those pixels using some other pixels. It amounts to watching numbers. ”

    To me, that’s like saying that watching Citizen Kane amounts to watching chemicals combine with photons or that a great sculpture is just the combination of stone meeting steel…

  14. Kathy says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Oooh, these pixels are fighting those pixels using some other pixels.

    As opposed to watching photons fight other photons? But I’m late even asking the question.

    Over the past two weekends, I binged “Young Justice” on Netflix. It’s an animated series featuring teenage superheroes, beginning with sidekicks like Robin, Aqualad, Super Boy, etc. Pretty good for what it is. What I found interesting is there was a season-long story thread, much like Babylon 5 used to do, with elements from one season being used int he next. alas, it only ran two seasons (though apparently it’s being resurrected in a DC streaming service).

    Unfortunately the superhero formula tends to stunt character development. The characters change, but not enough. The story still satisfies, as it takes its time in the telling.