Somewhat unexpectedly, this week’s long range report takes a first look at the beginning of summer movie season following a bombshell release date change announced by Disney on Thursday: Avengers: Infinity War is now slated to open Friday, April 27 — one week earlier than the previously scheduled Friday, May 4.
This marks the first time an Avengers film has opted out of the traditional first Friday of May slot, and positions the film for something closer to a simultaneous global launch — something the Marvel Cinematic Universe hasn’t seen much as its films have typically opened overseas one or two weeks before North America.
The pivot also distances the film from May 18’s Deadpool 2 and Disney’s own Solo: A Star Wars Story on May 25, giving the trio of tentpoles more breathing room in a May window that’s poised to become a record one at the box office.
Should the current global strategy remain the plan, Infinity War stands a reasonable chance at topping last year’s The Fate of the Furious and its standing record as both the overseas ($443.2 million) and worldwide opening weekend ($541.9 million) champ when the Marvel heroes assemble less than two months from now. (Worth noting is that the film still has a handful of countries — Russia included — slated to debut one week later.)
Domestically, however, is where this report is mainly focused for now.
Never mind 2018 itself, it goes without saying Infinity War is one of this decade’s keystone event films — just as next year’s Avengers 4 likely will be. Bringing together the entire roster of characters, Marvel Studios is in the midst of celebrating its 10th anniversary (marked by the release of the original Iron Man in May 2008) with what studio head Kevin Feige has promised in no uncertain terms will be the culmination of every story they’ve brought to the screen so far.
This will mark the 19th chapter of the universe, and fans are being prepared to expect some sort of finality to the current iteration of the MCU over the course of the next year.
What to Expect
It’s hard to view this as a traditional trilogy-capper within the Avengers sub-set of films. Infinity War and the forthcoming, untitled Avengers 4 slated for May 2019 were filmed back-to-back by Anthony and Joe Russo (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Civil War) and, at one time, planned as a two-parter under the same subtitle. Marvel shifted gears by dropping the IW moniker from next year’s film, but little else has been confirmed in terms of what to expect — likely due to the fact that it would spoil what happens in this film.
Will next year’s “conclusion” similarly boast the full universe cast of Iron Man, Captain America, Spider-Man, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Black Panther, Thor, Doctor Strange, Hulk, et al? We simply don’t know yet, and that’s a hugely significant factor to consider in expectations for this film’s box office potential. As such, forecasts for total grosses may be volatile in the coming weeks.
Buzz will undoubtedly be strong — Infinity War‘s Twitter activity is on par with that of Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Age of Ultron at the same point before release, while far ahead of Black Panther and Civil War — and reviews close to release will be key as always.
But, if the film leaves moviegoers on a hard cliffhanger in combination with possible deaths of beloved characters that Marvel films have generally avoided up to this point, staying power could turn out to be more frontloaded like that of the aforementioned Ultron and Civil War, as opposed to the more widely crowd-pleasing first Avengers, Black Panther, first Guardians, first Iron Man, etc. that displayed incredible legs by tripling their already-massive opening weekend grosses.
In terms of opening weekend, the immense level of hype the film is currently generating across the social media spectrum indicates what will likely be the sixth film to ever open north of $200 million domestically. Using the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows two-parter as a close comparison for this and next year’s Avengers entry, Infinity War may not approach the all-time record of $248 million held by Star Wars: The Force Awakens (just as Deathly Hallows I came in well short of The Dark Knight‘s record opening at the time).
That unfair comparison aside, the third place Jurassic World‘s $208.8 million debut is well within reach, and The Last Jedi‘s second-best-ever $220 million bow isn’t out of the question either.
With those caveats aside, it’s ultimately important to remember this: Marvel and Disney have a consistent history of coming in ahead of even the most optimistic expectations, so anything is possible.
Infinity War: Box Office Ranges
At this time, our ranges for the next Marvel tentpole stand as follows:
Domestic Opening Weekend: $200 million – $235 million
Domestic Total Gross: $490 million – $590 million
Current pinpoint forecasts are listed in the table below and will be updated as tracking changes in the weeks ahead.
This Week’s Other Updates
- STX’s I Feel Pretty moved up one week to an April 20 release in response to the Avengers shift. We currently expect the Amy Schumer comedy to be a strong female-driven option in late April through May based on encouraging buzz following the film’s first trailer. A Mother’s Day weekend boost in mid-May will be good news toward staying power.
- A slew of upcoming releases have been updated in the chart below as the post-Black Panther/pre-Avengers market continues to take shape.
|Release Date||Title||3-Day Wide Opening||% Chg from Last Week||Domestic Total||% Chg from Last Week||Estimated Location Count||Distributor|
|3/9/2018||The Hurricane Heist||$4,500,000||-10%||$11,300,000||-10%||2,500||Entertainment Studios|
|3/9/2018||Strangers: Prey at Night||$7,000,000||$15,000,000||2,400||Aviron|
|3/9/2018||A Wrinkle In Time||$39,000,000||-19%||$115,000,000||-19%||3,800||Disney|
|3/16/2018||I Can Only Imagine||$1,500,000||$3,000,000||800||Roadside Attractions|
|3/16/2018||Tomb Raider||$28,000,000||17%||$70,000,000||17%||3,500||Warner Bros.|
|3/23/2018||Midnight Sun||$4,500,000||-25%||$11,300,000||-25%||Open Road|
|3/23/2018||Pacific Rim Uprising||$25,000,000||25%||$61,000,000||25%||Universal|
|3/23/2018||Paul, Apostle of Christ||$13,500,000||-7%||$47,500,000||-7%||Sony / Columbia|
|3/29/2018||Ready Player One||$54,000,000||$180,000,000||Warner Bros.|
|3/30/2018||God’s Not Dead: A Light In Darkness||$6,000,000||$15,400,000||Pure Flix|
|4/6/2018||A Quiet Place||$25,000,000||25%||$78,000,000||22%||Paramount|
|4/13/2018||Overboard||$14,000,000||$39,000,000||Lionsgate / Pantelion|
|4/13/2018||Truth or Dare||$23,000,000||$47,000,000||Universal|
|4/20/2018||I Feel Pretty||$21,000,000||NEW||$70,000,000||NEW||STXfilms|
|4/20/2018||Rampage||$19,000,000||-24%||$47,000,000||-24%||Warner Bros. / New Line|
|4/20/2018||Super Troopers 2||$5,000,000||$9,000,000||-10%||Fox Searchlight|
|4/27/2018||Avengers: Infinity War||$215,000,000||NEW||$538,000,000||NEW||Disney|
|4/27/2018||Bad Samaritan||n/a||NEW||n/a||NEW||Electric Entertainment|
|4/27/2018||Traffik||$4,000,000||NEW||$10,000,000||NEW||Lionsgate / Summit|