'Avengers: Endgame' is destined to smash box-office records this weekend, but it won't surpass $300 million in US debut

Key Points
  • "Avengers: Endgame" opens this weekend and is expected to earn between $260 million and $285 million in the U.S., an industry record.
  • While some have suggested it could reach or surpass $300 million, that isn't likely.
  • "Endgame" has broken records for advanced ticket sales and will have the widest release of any movie in U.S. film history.
Source: Marvel

Walt Disney is set to smash some major box-office records this weekend with its debut of "Avengers: Endgame."

The film, the 22nd installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is the long-awaited culmination of more than a decade of storytelling. Ahead of its release this weekend, advanced ticket sales have been booming.

Online ticketing websites Fandango and Atom Tickets have reported that the film has broken numerous records on their sites including, first-hour, first-day and first-week sales records.

On Tuesday, Fandango reported that 4,000 showings on its site had been sold out. To handle the demand, some theaters have even begun offering round-the-clock showings. Still, in some areas of the country, it's difficult to find tickets, especially for a group of moviegoers.

Current industry predictions have the film earning between $260 million and $285 million in the U.S. during its debut. "Endgame" will have the highest opening weekend in U.S. history if it cracks $257.6 million, the current record held by "Avengers: Infinity War."

However, even with a record number of presale tickets and additional showings, "Endgame" probably won't earn much more than the predicted range. Although some have speculated that the highly anticipated film could reach or surpass the $300 million mark, it's not likely.

"Mathematically, it's very challenging," Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at Boxoffice.com, said.

First and foremost, "Endgame" is not the only film in theaters this weekend. "The Curse of La Llorona," "Breakthrough," "Shazam!," "Hellboy," "Missing Link," "Dumbo" and "Captain Marvel," among others, are contracted to play over the weekend at theaters nationwide. Even if no one were to attend these screenings, theaters are still obligated to set aside screens for these films to play.

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Then there is the run time of the film — three hours, two minutes. With an additional 30 minutes tacked on for previews and 30 minutes for cleanup at the end of the film, a theater can only show "Endgame" about three times in a 12-hour period.

Some AMC and Alamo Drafthouse theaters have opted to add more showings, including ones at 4 a.m. and 7 a.m., at a few dozen locations. However, the boost that these cinemas get, likely won't tip the scales too much for the overall opening weekend gross.

Currently, "Endgame" is expected to play in around 4,600 theaters this weekend, the widest release of any film in U.S. history.

Its predecessor, "Infinity War" showed in around 4,470 theaters when it was released last year and hauled in an average of $57,000 per theater, according to data from Comscore.

The only other film to have a higher profit average per theater was "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," which took in around $59,900 per theater in 2015. "The Force Awakens" played in 4,100 locations during its debut and hauled in a total of $247.9 million in its first weekend.

However, even if "Endgame" were to earn $60,000 per theater during its debut, it would only garner $276 million for its debut. This would be a huge feat for the film, but puts it $24 million shy of the $300 million mark.

(L-R) Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. speak onstage during the Los Angeles World Premiere of Marvel Studios' 'Avengers: Endgame' at the Los Angeles Convention Center on April 23, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.
Jesse Grant | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

Theaters would have to average more than $65,000 each in order for "Endgame" to come close to hitting that level.

"It's never happened, but that doesn't mean that it can't be happen," Paul Dergarabedian, senior analyst at Comscore, said. "We just don't know if it's possible. ... It's literally unprecedented."

Dergarabedian noted that this kind of benchmark could never have been hit in past decades, as inflation and rising ticket prices have helped bump up these figures.

"Endgame" will get a bit of a boost from ticket sales at Imax theaters — of which there are about 400 locations showing the film in the U.S. — as those tickets tend to be more expensive than traditional movie tickets, he said.

Globally, "Endgame" is also poised to smash records. The film opens in China this week, two days before the U.S. debut. Analysts already predict that the movie will easily surpass the $191 million opening that "Infinity War" had in that country last year.

So far, the Chinese box office has said that "Endgame" has secured around $90 million in advanced tickets and is estimated to haul in around $20 million from midnight showings. Leading China box-office reporting group Artisan Gateway has forecast that "Endgame" will earn around $270 million during its five-day opening.

Current forecasts have the total global opening ranging between $750 million and $900 million, with analysts predicting that "Endgame" will be the fastest film to hit the $1 billion mark.

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