‘Avengers: Endgame’ sets box office record in China, leading massive global launch

“Avengers: Endgame” doesn’t open in U.S. theaters until Thursday evening, but the superhero film is already a blockbuster internationally.

The 22nd movie from Walt Disney Co.’s Marvel Studios has collected $169 million from 25 countries where it opened this week, led by a record-breaking start in China, according to studio estimates.

Through Wednesday, “Endgame” had grossed $107.5 million in China, the world’s second-largest theatrical market. That means the fourth “Avengers” movie has surpassed the 2018 local language hit “Monster Hunt 2” for the biggest first-day box office receipts in the country.

There’s a catch, though. “Endgame’s” tally counts $28.2 million in Tuesday midnight screenings. “Monster Hunt 2,” aimed largely at family audiences, didn’t have midnight showings, though it did open on the first day of the Lunar New Year, which is one of the country’s biggest moviegoing holidays.

“Endgame” also topped the first-day grosses for both Universal Pictures’ “The Fate of the Furious” and Disney’s “Avengers: Infinity War,” exceeding each by about 50 percent in local currency.

The massive launch of “Endgame” highlights the growing importance of China’s expanding exhibition business to Hollywood. China has the fastest-growing box office in the world and is expected to eventually surpass the U.S., but American studios have sometimes struggled there recently as audiences increasingly gravitate toward Chinese-made films.

Marvel, however, has proved a reliably powerful draw in China and “Endgame” marks a much anticipated conclusion to the “Avengers” saga.

“Endgame” has also benefited from overwhelmingly positive reviews on local film rating websites, which are highly influential with China’s digitally inclined consumers. “Endgame” holds a strong 9.2 rating out of 10 on the website Maoyan, and a 9 out of 10 on Douban.

The film also had the all-time-highest single-day grosses in Hong Kong, Thailand, Taiwan, Australia and the Philippines.

Now analysts are waiting to see just how well “Avengers: Endgame” does when it debuts in North America this weekend. Pre-weekend projections estimated the movie would gross about $260 million in the U.S. and Canada, putting it on track to beat the $257.7-million record set by last year’s “Avengers: Infinity War.” The most optimistic analysts said “Endgame” could collect as much as $300 million.

The anticipation has not been without headaches for the studio, which has had to contend with leaks of footage from the film and, reportedly, a bootleg recording from a Chinese theater.

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