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Box Office: Modest successes succeeded by ‘Avengers: Endgame’ smashing cinematic records

(Jae Su/Daily Bruin)

By Ryan Wu

May 3, 2019 4:34 p.m.

Hollywood’s a company town. It might be a cliche, but in this age of record-breaking box office hauls, it couldn’t ring truer. With every film around the corner a potential franchise, the box office has become a high-stakes chess game for studios; who gets a sequel, and who gets left in the dust? In his “Box Office” series, Daily Bruin contributor Ryan Wu will explore the ins and outs of recently released films that topped and flopped at the box offices.

This is a good time for a “perfectly-balanced” joke.

These past two weeks saw one of the quietest Easter weekends in box office history followed by one of the biggest movie releases in the history of the world. That movie was, of course, “Avengers: Endgame,” the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s capstone to 11 years and 22 movies worth of mythmaking and cultural dominance.

For its part, the April 19-21 weekend saw the release of Warner Bros. and New Line’s “Conjuring”-verse shocker “The Curse of La Llorona” across 3,372 North American theaters, and Disney-Fox Studio’s religious drama “Breakthrough” in 2,824 locations.

Both are fairly niche titles, so the modest numbers they ended up with shouldn’t be a surprise. “The Curse of La Llorona” saw an opening weekend haul of $26.3 million. On the one hand, it’s a downgrade from the other “Conjuring” movies – about $10 million less than the previous lowest opener, “Annabelle: Creation.” On the other hand, the budget for horror is always small – about $9 million for “La Llorona” – and it still handily outperformed similar movies like this year’s “Pet Sematary” and 2008’s “Shutter.” Overall, chalk it up to a win.

That “small haul-smaller budget” calculus repeats itself even more starkly with “Breakthrough,” a Christian religious drama that brought in a better-than-average $11.3 million on opening weekend. Christian movies of this sort, like “Heaven is for Real,” or “Miracles from Heaven,” tend to make many times their opening weekend revenue by the time they leave theaters, so this one should be decently profitable by the end of it all.

Make no mistake, neither of these movies were flops. But box office chatter this week has been dominated by one movie and one movie alone. Let’s talk about “Avengers: Endgame.”

The hype for “Endgame” was so great that it was the only wide release of the April 26-28 weekend – the term “wide release” referring to movies that open in more than 600 theaters across the United States and Canada. In total, the MCU’s most ambitious film yet opened in 4,600 theaters across North America, the widest release ever in the history of film.

Here’s a phrase you’ll hear a lot about the movie: “ever in the history of cinema/film/the world.” It’s hard to overstate just how much of a game changer the latest Avengers movie has been. In North America, “Endgame” opened to a mind-boggling $357.1 million, almost $100 million more than the previous record-holder. Internationally, the film set the opening weekend record across 44 markets, including in the United Kingdom and Ireland, South Korea, France, Brazil and Mexico.

In total, the movie grossed $1.2 billion by opening weekend. For context, that’s more than the entire box office haul of “Captain Marvel” or “Captain America: Civil War” – and that’s just the debut.

Where it goes from here, no one can say. “Endgame” enjoyed a Monday take of $36.9 million, a drop of 59.2%. Generally, the first week gives a good idea of how much money a movie is going to make after opening weekend; the film’s Monday drop compares well to that of “Avengers: Infinity Wars,” at 64.3%. It’s difficult to make comparisons in the thick of things, and a variety of factors could lead to good or bad legs.

Whatever its take ends up being, it might just be best to soak in the magic of movie history in the making. Dread it or run from it, the endgame is approaching.

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Ryan Wu
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