‘Avengers: Endgame’ is on Track to be the Highest-Grossing Film Ever

Avengers: Endgame has been in theaters for almost two weeks and it’s the second-highest grossing film of all-time, passing Titanic and looking right at the record held by another James Cameron movie, Avatar. Yes, roughly all the world has seen Endgame, which has to date pulled in $2.18 billion worldwide.

But here’s the thing: only four movies in the top 50 highest-grossing released before the year 2000, and all of them are from the 90s. E.T. is the only movie from the 80s in the top 100 at number 83 and Star Wars is the only film from the 70s at number 90.

You’re going to hear a lot about how Avengers: Endgame is the highest-grossing film of all time when it happens, but what does that really mean? Ticket prices have doubled since Titanic was in theaters and the worldwide market is more robust now that it ever has been, especially with China now being a major driver of ticket sales.

But if you really look at the top 100 list, this is just something that inevitably happens once a decade because of ticket price inflation. In 1977, Star Wars was the highest-grossing film of all time. Then about every ten years, a new blockbuster came along and took the top spot. That’s just going to keep happening, and ten years from now we’re going to watch as some Chinese movie blows past Endgame on the all-time box office list.

Adjusted for inflation, Endgame is 42nd in domestic box office. That is, like the film itself, good, but not great. It’s at roughly a third of Gone with the Wind and Star Wars‘ adjusted gross. As I’m writing this, it hasn’t outperformed the very first Spider-Man with Tobey Maguire or Ghostbusters. The good Ghostbusters, not the terrible Paul Feig abortion.

Basically, what I’m saying is that the unadjusted gross is a pointless statistic that only tells you how many yachts studio heads can buy their mistresses. And when your most annoying friend starts going “Yeah, well, Endgame is the highest-grossing movie of all time, unlike that bullshit you watch like Bullit and Annie Hall or whatever,” Just remind them that way more people saw The Phantom Menace than Endgame, and that movie is worse than The Last Jedi.

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Robert Arvanitis
Robert Arvanitis
4 years ago

Well reasoned review.
Note-1 that yacht sales must be inflation adjusted…
Note-2 must also adjust for population; percent of available viewers also counts!