It looks like Avengers: Endgame will snag that elusive record for global ticket sales from Avatar, after all. Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) is pulling one last trick out of its sleeve to cover the last $44.6 million on a journey totalling $2.8 billion in box-office sales.
At a screen junket for next month's Spider-Man: Far From Home premiere, Endgame producer Kevin Feige told at least two separate outlets that the Marvel colossus is coming back to theaters again.
"Not an extended cut, but there will be a version going into theaters with a bit of a marketing push with a few new things at the end of the movie," Feige told reporters from Screen Rant. "If you stay and watch the movie, after the credits, there'll be a deleted scene, a little tribute, and a few surprises. Which will be next weekend."
Feige also confirmed this idea in another interview with Comicbook.com. That statement had a bit of extra color added on:
"I don't know if it's been announced," he said. "And I don't know how much... Yeah, we're doing it next weekend."
Nothing has been announced on an official level -- the press rooms for both Marvel and Disney have nothing to say on this topic yet. But Feige is on the record here, so we should expect one last hurrah.
Will it be enough?
The original release has not quite left theaters, but the torrential ticket sales of the first few weeks has slowed to a forgettable trickle. It was the eighth-biggest seller last week, collecting $7.4 million domestically and $2.4 million abroad. That's a mere rounding error in Endgame's all-time global tally of $2.74 billion. This steamroller will run out of gas before passing Avatar and its $2.79 billion worldwide box office record.
Feige didn't sound terribly certain that the re release will do the trick. "I don't know how much..." falls somewhat short of a rousing endorsement. That being said, Disney has a decent track record with reissued classics.
Beauty and the Beast collected $146 million in domestic sales during its initial run in 1991. An IMAX (NYSE:IMAX) release added 25.5 million in 2002 and a 3D-enabled version took in $47.6 million in 2012. A 3D release added $41 million to Finding Nemo's original $340 million run, nine years later. Even the unloved Star Wars: Episode I--The Phantom Menace managed to boost its $431 million box office total by another $43 million in 2012 as that movie was reworked to support 3D projection systems.
Of course, there are no guarantees. Avatar itself tried its skinny blue hand at a "special edition" release in 2010, eight months after the original premiere with nine minutes of additional footage. That run stopped at just $10.7 million domestically, barely covering the production costs of the new footage at $1 million per minute. However, the Special Edition also pulled in $22 million in international sales, arguably making that experiment worthwhile.
With those historical figures as a guide, Endgame seems likely to top Avatar 's global sales after all. This re-release comes much closer on the heels of the original work than any of the others I mentioned, but the promise of new material could provide a healthy boost to a story that's still fresh in the minds of many moviegoers.
Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn
What does this record really mean, though? Avengers: Endgame should stand on its own as a fantastic moneymaker for Disney, with or without this particular trophy. And in some ways, it still won't be the biggest hit in Hollywood's history.
Its records are all of a short-term nature, with sharp drop-offs in each week after the splashy release. Fifty-eight other movies stayed longer at the top of their weekly box office charts, led by Titanic and Beverly Hills Cop. The domestic crown still belongs to Disney's own Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which posted a domestic total $105 million ahead of Endgame.
In inflation-adjusted terms, Avatar and Endgame rank as low as 15th and 17th, far behind classics such as Titanic, Jaws, and E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial. Let's just accept that no movie will ever unseat Gone With the Wind in terms of adjusted sales -- $1.8 billion domestically matched by a similar total abroad for a combined box office pot of $3.6 billion.
Either way, Endgame remains the biggest hit ever in a few ways. It had the biggest opening weekend ever, both domestically and worldwide -- even on an inflation-adjusted basis. This was the fastest run to $500 million and the widest release in movie history. A quick hit of box office adrenaline, followed by an equally rapid fade.
What Disney investors should focus on instead
The large first-week haul helped Disney crush Wall Street's expectations in the second quarter, even though the movie premiered less than a week before the end of that reporting period. The upcoming re-release probably won't move Disney's top-line needle far enough to make a real difference, but it sure won't hurt, either.
The bigger test will come in December, when Avengers: Endgame hits the new Disney+ streaming service less than a month after that platform's own debut. The ability to pause this three-hour behemoth for a snack-and-restroom break could inspire lots of second and third viewings by people who find the theatrical experience less appealing. As such, Endgame might just be the perfect profile-raising title for the new Disney+ service. I'll keep a close eye on that event.