Features and Columns · Movies

‘Avengers: Infinity War’ is the New Opening-Weekend Box Office Champion

A lot of people went to see Marvel’s latest.
By  · Published on April 30th, 2018

When you make a crossover event movie like Avengers: Infinity War, you know you’re going to draw in the crowds. Marvel threw together characters from some of the most successful superhero releases of all time, and naturally the result was one of the most populously attended opening weekends ever. Even more so than was anticipated.

Infinity War sold 28.1 million tickets in North America over its first three days. That includes Thursday night previews, which alone brought in more than four million fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After that first wave, it looked like the Avengers sequel could pass Star Wars: The Force Awakens to have the best opening of all time. Domestically, it fell just short of that movie’s 28.5 million tickets. Worldwide, however, Infinity War is the new box office champ.

For international figures, only grosses are available. We can’t tell if attendance for the MCU’s main event was higher overseas than it was for The Force Awakens. But according to Box Office Mojo, Infinity War made $382.7 million in international territories — and China wasn’t even one of them yet. That’s more than the Star Wars episode’s foreign debut ($281 million) but was still only second-best overall, below The Fate of the Furious ($443 million). Combined with its domestic dollars, though, Infinity War appears to have the best worldwide opening of all time.

That’s even accounting for inflation. While The Force Awakens is still technically the domestic champ due to its greater number of tickets sold, adding up to a higher opening-weekend gross at home, when that inflated figure is added to the movie’s international opening gross, the amount is still below Infinity War‘s astounding total of $640.9 million.

Not that it matters much which of the two movies is the true champ. Disney wears the crown either way. The studio now has 10 of the top 20 best domestic openers ever, most of them being Star Wars or Marvel movies. Without accounting for inflation, the number is up to 11, with nine of the top 10 being Disney releases. They make what the people want to see.

Also amazing is the fact that Disney and Marvel had two of the top five movies at the box office this past weekend. Black Panther jumped back up the chart to fifth place by selling 477,200 tickets. That’s the movie’s lowest weekend attendance yet, but we can bet it would have been even fewer without Infinity War making its debut. Surely there were moviegoers who went to see both MCU installments in the theater, whether to finally play catch up or revisit the hit as a lead-in. Maybe there were even more than it seems if there was any theater hopping going on.

Obviously Infinity War had the best-selling superhero movie debut, topping The Avengers (25.5 million) with number of tickets sold. Impressively, the third one of the Avengers movies gave the series a comeback after Age of Ultron dipped with an opening weekend attendance of 22.2 million. Does the combo cast have something to do with that? Infinity War was able to draw in crowds who might just have been into Avengers movies or Guardians of the Galaxy movies or Black Panther.

Black Panther Infinity War

Infinity War had the least-positive reviews of the last four MCU installments, its Rotten Tomatoes score of 84% being just one point above that of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. That’s also just slightly above the franchise average of 83.8% too. If we look only at “top critics” on the site, however, its 74% score falls slightly below the MCU average of 76.2%. Over at MetacriticInfinity Wars‘ score of 68 is above the franchise average of 65.3.

But regardless of the relative acclaim for Infinity War, this is a movie for the fans, and they were not disappointed. Opening night moviegoers gave the movie an ‘A’ grade via CinemaScore polling, which is standard for Marvel. It’s not as great as the ‘A+’ marks received by the first Avengers movie or Black Panther, but it matches every other MCU installment save for the below average responses to Captain America: The First AvengerThor: The Dark World, and The Incredible Hulk, each of which earned an ‘A-‘, and the first Thor, which got a ‘B+’.

For the first three days, fans are favoring Infinity War over other MCU installments, according to Rotten Tomatoes’ user polling. Despite the anti-Marvel crowd declaring another attack on the latest from the MCU brand, a la Black Panther, presently the RT “audience score” is at 93% positive, which is a franchise best, above even previous (tied) record holders Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Infinity War is also, as of this writing, the highest-rated MCU installment on IMDb, with a score of 9.0 from more than 160,000 votes. That could dip, of course, once more people see the movie and rate it on the site. The Avengers has more than a million votes, for instance, and that movie and Guardians of the Galaxy are otherwise the franchise champs there with scores of 8.1.

How does all that compare to The Force Awakens? The Star Wars movie had better reviews (94% on RT) and the same CinemaScore grade but for now has the lower audience score on RT and lower rating on IMDb. As far as the whole franchises go, Marvel openings average at 15 million tickets sold compared to Star Wars‘ 12.5 million, the latter including attendance for non-wide debuts in the series’ early years.

If we only count the same era, meaning Disney releases, the Star Wars franchise is up to a 23.4 million opening average from the last three movies. Marvel wasn’t always produced and distributed by Disney either, so we should compare to the studio’s releases (excluding even Spider-Man: Homecoming), which gives the MCU an average of just 16.8 million. But if we look at just the three Avengers titles, Marvel wins with an average opening weekend attendance of 25 million.

Again, Disney wins all around.

But also 2018 is winning once again. Thanks to the massive debut of Infinity War, the year is up to 417.4 million tickets sold through April 29th. That’s more than the movie attendance up to this time of the year for each of the past five years. We’ll see if this feat can be achieved through December.

Here are the weekend’s top 10 titles by number of tickets sold with new titles in bold and totals in parentheses:

1. Avengers: Infinity War – 28.1 million (28.1 million)
2. A Quiet Place – 1.2 million (16.2 million)
3. I Feel Pretty – 0.9 million (3.2 million)
4. Rampage – 0.8 million (8.5 million)
5. Black Panther – 0.5 million (75.1 million)
6. Super Troopers 2 – 0.4 million (2.4 million)
7. Truth or Dare – 0.36 million (3.9 million)
8. Blockers – 0.32 million (5.8 million)
9. Ready Player One – 0.28 million (14.3 million)
10. Traffik – 0.2 million (0.7 million)

All attendance data and box office grosses via Box Office Mojo.

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.