Avengers: Endgame Passes Avatar On Top-Grossing Films List
This past weekend, Avengers: Endgame passed Avatar as the biggest-grossing movie of all-time, but there are several caveats.
Over this just-passed weekend, the latest (last?) film in the Avengers saga, Avengers: Endgame passed Avatar as the highest-grossing movie of all time:
LOS ANGELES — The global box office has a new king in “Avengers: Endgame.”
The superhero extravaganza this weekend usurped “Avatar” to become the highest-grossing film of all time, with an estimated $2.79 billion in worldwide grosses in just 13 weeks.
“Avatar” held onto the record for a decade at $2.789 billion.
The title comes with a few caveats, however, including the fact that “Avatar’s” grosses are not adjusted for inflation. Also, domestically, “Avengers: Endgame” is No. 2 to “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” by around $80 million.
As Gizmodo notes, this was very much an internal fight between movie properties owned by the same parent company:
Avengers: Endgame, a movie about a bunch of beautiful superheroes being sad and breaking the timeline, is now the most financially successful movie of all time. It’s been a long road, but we have finally reached the endgame: and really, the winner all along has been Mickey Mouse.
After one theatrical re-release and months at the box office, Avengers: Endgame has officially earned $2.79 billion worldwide, making it the most lucrative theatrical release ever. (At least, if you’re not adjusting for inflation. If you are, it ranks at 16, according to Box Office Mojo, but, still.)
This means that the film, the culmination of a decade of Marvel Studios filmmaking and hype, has edged out Avatar—a franchise that Disney now also owns after its acquisition of Fox earlier this year—from its decade-long reign as the top-grossing film, with $2.789 billion.
This is obviously a huge deal for Marvel—it’s a validation of their dominance of the cultural sphere, a monument to what you can do with the resources of one of the largest media monopolies ever behind you. It’s also, frankly, a handy receipt that more than lets you get away with managing to bring down Hall H at Comic-Con with the announcement that Angelina Jolie will play an obscure Jack Kirby character basically created as a riff of other obscure characters Kirby created for Marvel’s comics rival, DC Comics. It also seems to be a big deal to fans, for reasons I don’t quite understand, as many have been rooting excitedly for this to happen for a while. Brand loyalty is a hell of a drug, I suppose.
What this means going forward is probably a lot more Marvel movies, with as much money and talent behind them as Disney can muster. It also probably means that, somewhere, today, James Cameron is probably working on one of several Avatar sequels, feeling just a teeny little bit annoyed. Maybe you’ll get ’em next time, James. For now, the Avatar twitter decided to be a bit more diplomatic, sharing a message including the bizarre imagery of Iron Man being fondled by Pandoran fauna:
Box Office Mojo reports that despite lackluster critical appraisal, Jon Favreau’s CG remake of the beloved animated classic The Lion King raked in a record-setting $185 million in its opening weekend. The movie takes the record for the best July opener from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2—a movie in a franchise that Walt Disney has somehow yet to acquire, but would probably really like to—which it had held since 2011.
What does that mean? Well, that we can likely expect Disney to continue to chew through its ’90s animated renaissance with a reckless abandon for remakes. Aladdin and The Lion King already came and went this year, with the upcoming Mulan and the currently–casting The Little Mermaid already on the way. How long until the decidedly uncomfortable idea of a Pocahontas remake gets announced?
In fact, if you look at the chart of the top-grossing films, you notice something that is likely to have Mickey Mouse, and Disney CEO Bob Iger, smiling:
Each movie with “BV” in the studio column is a Disney-owned property, and Disney now owns three of the top-grossing franchises in movie history, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Star Wars franchise, and, thanks to its acquisition of Twentieth-Century Fox’s production business, the Avatar franchise, which will include at least three planned sequels in the coming years. The mouse is doing pretty good, apparently.
Of course, things are much different if you adjust things for inflation. Here’s the list that Box Office Mojo has up at the current time:
On this list, Avatar sits at 15th place in the top 20 while Avengers:Endgame sits just behind it at 16th place. More significant perhaps is the fact that there isn’t a single movie from the 21st Century in the top ten notwithstanding the fact that we’ve seen plenty of incredibly high grossing movies over the past 19 years.. Additionally, the most recently released movie in the top ten, 1997’s Titanic, was released 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 four movies from the 21st century in the Top 25 list, The Force Awakens, Avatar, Avengers: Endgame and Jurassic World.
This 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. On the opening weekend for Avengers: Endgame, for example, there were many multiplexes where the film was being shown on all, or nearly all, of the available screens in one theater. This obviously meant that more people could see it on 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.
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.