With its first weekend in the rearview mirror, Avengers: Endgame turned records to dust with the snap of a finger. The movie, which is the culmination of the 21 Marvel films that preceded it, generated more than $350 million in North American ticket sales and an unparalleled $1.2 billion in worldwide box office. This shattered the previous records of $258 million and $641 million, respectively, set by Avengers: Infinity War just last year.
The blockbuster will have a trickle-down effect, benefiting many companies tied to the movie industry, but some are better positioned than others to reap the rewards of the cultural phenomenon. Let's take a look at the three companies that stand to gain the most from Endgame's success.
Avengers: Endgame was the type of blockbuster that was tailor-made for the large screen format that is IMAX (NYSE:IMAX). Not only that, but the movie was only the second in cinematic history that was shot entirely using IMAX cameras, a fact that the company advertised extensively. In previews leading up to the Endgame's release, IMAX pointed out that fans would "see up to 26% more picture, only in IMAX theaters."
Those factors combined to create a perfect storm for the theater operator, with the film breaking IMAX records across the globe. Earth's mightiest heroes toppled the existing IMAX worldwide box office record, delivering $91.5 million in ticket sales, nearly doubling the previous benchmark set by Star Wars: The Force Awakens (another Disney property), "by an astonishing 92%," according to the IMAX press release. The movie set 50 new territory records for IMAX, including China, breaking that country's previous record by 65% and generating $42.4 million in IMAX box office.
As a result of the groundbreaking success of Endgame, IMAX execs said they were raising the company's full-year forecast, expecting its box office to grow in the low double digits year over year, compared to the previous guidance of growth in the mid- to high single digits.
The world's largest theater operator, AMC Entertainment Holdings (NYSE:AMC), must have seen the writing on the wall. When presale tickets for Avengers: Endgame went on sale in early April, AMC's site -- along with many others -- crashed under the sheer volume of customers trying to buy tickets, producing record first-day ticket sales. The company took a number of steps to maximize its share of the profits produced by this soon-to-be blockbuster.
In order to meet the "unprecedented demand" by fans, AMC responded with a "record-shattering 10 million seats and 58,000 screenings," more than any other movie in the company's history, according to its press release. Some locations stayed open around the clock during the weekend to accommodate the surge of moviegoers.
Those steps paid off, as AMC reported single-day records, not only for attendance, but for food and beverage sales at its theaters. The company sold more than 2.6 million tickets in the U.S. on Saturday, besting the record set by Marvel's Black Panther early last year. Additionally, AMC set new single-day food and beverage records in the U.S., first on Friday, then on Saturday, clocking in at $13 million and $15 million, respectively.
The most obvious beneficiary of Avengers: Endgame's runaway success is Marvel's corporate parent Disney (NYSE:DIS). It's difficult to say just how much from ticket sales will drop to the bottom line, but some industry prognosticators are predicting that the movie will eventually top out well north of $2 billion in total worldwide box office, resulting in profits in a range of $600 million to $650 million for Disney. To put that into perspective, Avengers: Infinity War was among the most profitable movies of 2018, with estimated profits of about $500 million.
Of course, that's just the beginning of the story for the Disney money machine, which will continue to milk the movie long after Endgame has left the theater. In addition to Blu-ray and digital movie sales, there's the inevitable licensing that will put Earth's mightiest heroes on everything from plush toys to lunchboxes. The characters have been -- and will continue to be -- fixtures at Disney's theme parks in the coming months, likely drawing record-breaking crowds there as well.
And let's not forget Disney's soon-to-debut streaming service -- Disney+. Avengers: Endgame will be one of the flagship movies that will find a home on the company's direct-to-consumer service, encouraging Marvel fans everywhere to sign up for the service when it launches on Nov. 12 at $6.99 per month.