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Avengers: Endgame smashes box office records with US$1.2b global debut

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The three-hour Endgame also set records for the biggest foreign debut (US$859 million), the biggest "single day" opening (US$156.7 million domestically, including Thursday previews) and the biggest Imax opening (US$91.5 million).

Washington

THE AVENGERS assembled over the weekend to defeat an opponent: the modern Hollywood record books.

Disney/Marvel's newest superhero entry, Avengers: Endgame - the 22nd movie in the 11-year-old Marvel Cinematic Universe - benefited from a perfect confluence of factors to take the movie-going world by storm and create a new set of benchmarks.

The three-hour blockbuster became the first film ever to top US$1 billion in its opening, before adjusting for inflation. Blowing past projections, Endgame grossed US$350 million in North America and a total of US$1.2 billion worldwide, according to studio estimates released on Sunday.

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In Singapore, the movie scooped S$7.52 million in its first five days from April 24 to April 28. This is higher than the S$6.13 million that Avengers: Infinity War took in during its first five days last year.

Just a week ago, industry watchers were speculating whether Endgame could even sniff a billion dollars in the opening weekend; it surpassed expectations by more than 20 per cent.

Endgame immediately becomes the biggest movie of the year, too, topping Disney's set-up movie, Captain Marvel, which has grossed US$1.1 billion worldwide since its early March release.

With the combined global take of US$2.3 billion from those two movies, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is nearly a US$20 billion franchise - with Spider-Man: Far From Home still due out this summer.

Endgame is already a billion-dollar behemoth, largely because of an ideal culmination of long-cultivated worldwide interest, marketing might, positive critical reception (96 per cent "fresh" on Rotten Tomatoes) and virtually no competition.

Plus, financially hurting theatre owners eagerly turned thousands of screens over to Avengers to boost their bottom line. (The film had the widest North American release to date, with 4,662 screens.)

The Marvel Studios universe, under president Kevin Feige, has fostered a decade of fan loyalty, and rumours of major-character deaths in Endgame - following Chris Evans's viral tweet last autumn signalling that he might be wrapping his run as Captain America - heightened the intense anticipation for this capstone on the studio's first chapter.

"Kevin Feige and the Marvel Studios team have continued to challenge notions of what is possible at the movie theatre - both in terms of storytelling and at the box office," Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn said on Sunday in a statement.

Disney helped pull out all the box-office stops for Endgame including extensive promotion, and some theatres stayed open around the clock for the opening weekend.

Endgame topped the record of its lead-in Avengers movie, Infinity War, by US$93 million - a difference larger than the total North American gross of all but eight other movies in 2019.

There's also a telling barometer of just how popular the Avengers are around the world. Endgame has grossed nearly as much money in China - US$330.5 million since it opened there last Wednesday - as it has in the North American market, according to Variety.

Worldwide, Endgame is already the sixth-biggest movie in the Marvel universe.

It will set its longer-term sights on the Avengers film that preceded it - last year's Infinity War, which grossed US$2.05 billion worldwide (the first weekend total for Endgame is nearly double the worldwide debut of Infinity War).

Both films were guided by sibling directors Joe and Anthony Russo, with stars Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle and Josh Brolin leading the expansive cast.

The three-hour Endgame also set records for the biggest foreign debut (US$859 million), the biggest "single day" opening (US$156.7 million domestically, including Thursday previews) and the biggest Imax opening (US$91.5 million).

Trade papers report that it was also the largest pre-seller, according to the services Fandango and Atom Ticket.

Endgame helped the North American box office to a US$397 million total weekend for all domestic releases - shattering the previous record of US$314 million, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

A decade ago, some industry observers questioned the price tag when Disney bought Marvel for US$4 billion; the opening gross of Endgame represents nearly one-third of that purchase price. WP