Avengers: Infinity War passed the $600 million mark at the domestic box office yesterday, reaching the once-unthinkable milestone in 26 days and becoming just the eighth movie to do so in domestic box office history. For reference, as recently as mid-2015 there were only three such movies (and only one $200m+ opening weekend). Titanic ($600 million in 1997/1998 and $659m counting the reissues), Avatar ($760m in 2009/2010) and The Avengers ($623m in 2012). Heck, we didn’t even get a second $500m+ grosser until The Dark Knight ($534m in 2008) a decade ago.
And yet, since 2015, we’ve had Jurassic World ($652 million in 2015), Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($937m in 2015/2016), Star Wars: The Last Jedi ($620m in 2017/2018), Black Panther ($698m in 2018) and now Avengers: Infinity War. Six $200m+ debut weekends and eight movies topping $600m. A lot of this can be chalked up to inflation and 3D bumps, and the whole 3D/PLF/IMAX/D-Box upcharge situation essentially didn’t exist before Avatar blew our minds back in late 2009.
That’s especially true for worldwide box office, as the 3D boom coincided with major overseas expansion and overseas audiences embraced (or were forced into) the 3D theatrical experience more than their domestic counterparts. But even so, getting to $600 million in North America is still a massive achievement. Although, for what it’s worth, six of the eight members of this exclusive club are also the six movies that topped $200m in their initial Fri-Sun opening weekend. So unless you’re James Cameron, your movie has to open with $200m to get to $600m.
Even so, Avengers: Infinity War will still end up, somewhat by default, the least-leggy $200 million+ opener of all time. At a glance, we’re still looking at a ceiling of $660m, which would be around 2.56x its $257.7m opening weekend. That’s decent enough, leggier than Age of Ultron (2.4x $191m), Captain America: Civil War (2.28x $179m) and Iron Man 3 (2.35x $174m) but less leggy than Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2.66x $146m) and The Avengers (3x $207m). Yes, it’s going to be a lot less leggy than even Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which earned 2.8x its $220m debut weekend last Christmas.
That suggests two possibilities. Option A) Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the most frontloaded mega-bucks mid-December release thus far (compared to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the James Cameron flicks and the likes of I Am Legend or even Eragon), wasn’t as swiftly abandoned as some pundits claim. Option B) It only held on specifically because of that unbeatable Christmas-to-New Years’ year-end blitz. There is no option C, but that’s something to consider as we discuss Solo: A Star Wars Story‘s domestic performance over the next few weeks.