From the beginning, there was little doubt that Disney's (NYSE:DIS) Avengers: Endgame was destined to be something of a cultural phenomenon. The final chapter in the Avengers saga -- more than a decade in the making -- began breaking records as soon as tickets became available. As I wrote at the time: "Many of the major ticketing websites crashed under the sheer volume of buyers. In just six hours, the film broke the single-day record for presales set back in 2015 by Star Wars: The Force Awakens."
Now it seems the final chapter in the Skywalker saga is looking to reclaim the title. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker came barreling out of the gate, breaking records as it went. Atom Tickets reported that during the first hour of presales on Monday, the upcoming Star Wars film eclipsed the record set by Avengers earlier this year -- beating its take by a massive 45%.
This could set up a potential showdown between two of the entertainment giant's fan-favorite franchises for a box-office title bout.
The ticket sales contender
While it's too early to tell whether Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will live up to the hype, it has several factors working in its favor. This not only marks the final installment of the latest trilogy but is the ending to a saga that began more than 40 years ago, with the release of Star Wars: A New Hope -- then simply called Star Wars -- back in 1977.
While some of the more recent chapters haven't lived up to their full potential, it would be difficult to count out any movie with Star Wars in the title. The first installment in the latest trilogy -- Star Wars: The Force Awakens -- climbed the charts to become the third-highest-grossing film of all time and one of only a handful of films at the time to surpass the $2 billion in sales watermark. The movie still holds the record for domestic ticket sales (non-inflation adjusted), at more than $936 million.
Whether Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker can hold a candle to its predecessors remains to be seen, but if pre-sales are any indication, it's sure to be a blockbuster.
The ticket sales champ
Ticket presales were only the beginning. When Avengers: Endgame debuted in April, it smashed a host of existing records to dominate the weekend box office. The movie generated $60 million in Thursday ticket sales and $158 million in first-day sales, each eclipsing the records held by Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The film also pummeled the records for Saturday and Sunday ticket sales, with $109 million and $84 million, respectively, beating the take of its predecessor Avengers: Infinity War.
Those figures combined to topple both the domestic and global records for a movie's first weekend, generating box office of $350 million in the U.S. and $1.2 billion around the world.
From that auspicious beginning, Avengers: Endgame was able to parlay its momentum into a record-breaking finale, becoming the highest-grossing film of all time, raking in $2.79 billion and dethroning James Cameron's Avatar, which held the title for nearly a decade.
The ticket sales winner is...
Lest there be any doubt, Disney will be the ultimate winner, regardless of which movie ends its run at the top of the box-office charts. Earlier this year, the House of Mouse set the record for the most movies in a single year to surpass $1 billion in ticket sales, with five that reached a billion in sales in 2019. Avengers: Endgame ($2.79 billion), The Lion King ($1.65 billion), Captain Marvel ($1.13 billion), Toy Story 4 ($1.07 billion) and Aladdin ($1.05 billion) all joined Disney's billion-seller's club so far this year.
In 2019, Disney films have generated more than $8.1 billion in ticket sales, shattering its previous record of $7.6 billion. Disney accounted for more than 33% of the box office so far this year, with Frozen 2 and The Rise of Skywalker still waiting in the wings. Adding its recent acquisition of Fox to the mix brings that number to nearly 40%.
It isn't too much of a stretch to assume that Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will likely join the club, further boosting Disney's fortunes.