Avengers: Endgame was re-released over the weekend, with six minutes of additional content to tempt the Marvel Cinematic Universe faithful. Although the Marvel Studios blockbuster shared theaters such films as Toy Story 4, Yesterday and Annabelle Comes Home, its release was positioned to face off against one in particular: 2009's Avatar. With a $2.79 billion lifetime gross, it holds the record as the highest-grossing film of all time, achieved primarily through its breathtaking special effects and 3D.
Returning to 2,025 theaters, Endgame earned $5.5 million in North America, and another $2.3 million overseas, bringing its worldwide haul to $2.76 billion. That, of course, leaves the Marvel film about $30 million short of Avatar's total. However, if we focus on the weekend alone, Endgame actually outperformed the 2010 debut of Avatar: Special Edition, which earned $4.007 million domestically ($4.7 million when adjusted for inflation).
Despite that success, and further potential to become the highest-grossing films of all time, it's worth noting that Endgame's re-release screened in far more theaters. Avatar: Special Edition was released in just 812 theaters at its peak. Still, the Avatar re-release enjoyed a 12-week run in theaters, ultimately earning the James Cameron film an additional $10.74 million in North America and $22.46 million overseas.
The Draw of Avatar
Among the reasons why fans returned to theaters for the Endgame re-release may have been the releative secrecy surrounding its content. No one knew the nature of the deleted scene, or how it might color the film or the MCU. Avatar: Special Edition, meanwhile, featured nine minutes of additional footage, including an extended sex scene, none of which were likely to alter the course of a cinematic universe.
But while Avatar: Special Edition lacked the potential universe-spanning ramifications of the Endgame re-release, it had the benefit of one spectacle for its entire run: 3D. For that reason, more moviegoers were eager so sit through the film again in theaters, so as to see the extra scenes in their full, intended majesty.
We've discussed what the Endgame re-release adds, and some fans may not have felt it necessary to pay again just to see those additions (an unfinished deleted scene, an introduction by co-director Anthony Russo, a tribute to Stan Lee and a sneak peek at Spider-Man: Far From Home). Those extras may have viewed as somewhat lackluster when compared to some of the more interesting (if far-fetched) fan theories about the additional content.
There was also a wider gap between the initial release of Avatar, on Dec. 18, 2009, and its return to theaters with the Special Edition, on Aug. 27, 2010. That made the re-release seem special, as opposed to a mere extension of its theatrical run.
Inevitable End of Endgame
It remains to be seen how long Endgame's theatrical life will be extended by its re-release, especially considering its sole purpose is seemingly to overtake Avatar's box office. Given their similar success, and the 12-week run of Avatar: Special Edition, fans who haven't seen it yet should expect Endgame to stick around for at least another month. The arrival this week of Spider-Man: Far From Home may also aid in that financial endeavor.
Directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, Avengers: Endgame stars Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Chris Evans as Captain America, Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, Brie Larson as Captain Marvel, Paul Rudd as Ant-Man, Don Cheadle as War Machine, Karen Gillan as Nebula, Danai Gurira as Okoye and Bradley Cooper as Rocket, with Gwyneth Paltrow Pepper Potts, Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan, Benedict Wong as Wong, Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie and Josh Brolin as Thanos.