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The budgets for anticipated blockbusters are ballooning. Studios who seek massive financial returns on their event pictures often have to pony up the dough, so that their movie looks more like Gravity, and less like Green Lantern. But how much is too much? If a production costs $1 billion, is that the official designation that too much has been spent? Can a studio possibly recoup that investment?
If we’re talking about Marvel’s two-part The Avengers: Infinity War, it’s wholly possible. And the only reason we’re dipping our toe into this discussion is because Bleeding Cool posted some borderline wonky math to conclude that the combined production budget for two upcoming Avengers movies set to drop in 2018 and 2019 will come in at $1 billion.
Continuing the alleged breakdown, the site claims that $400 million of that price tag will go to screenwriters, the co-directors (Joe and Anthony Russo), assorted producers and the cast. Oh, speaking of, according to BC, Robert Downey Jr. will clear half of the allotted actor budget. Half.
Could this be possible? Sure, though let’s also point out that in the same article, Bleeding Cool admits that the script for The Avengers: Infinity War doesn’t exist, and that they haven’t even agreed on a plot. But for the moment, let’s entertain the notion. Infinity War appears to be the event that Marvel has been building to ever since they first introduced Thanos (Josh Brolin) in the end credits of Joss Whedon’s The Avengers. In that second, the group had an adversary that they could build toward, because prior to that, the MCU was a series of standalone solo adventures that lacked connective tissue.
Thanos is no closer to achieving total power at the end of Phase 2, because by the finale of The Avengers: Age of Ultron, he’s grabbing a gauntlet that’s free of Infinity Stones. But he’s coming, and his presence should be felt in numerous Phase 3 movies. The Infinity War will be Marvel’s first two-part experiment, so you KNOW they are going to want production values to be at an all-time high. And yes, the cast will swell to include one of the largest superhero ensembles we’ve ever seen on screen. By the time that we get to May 2019’s The Avengers: Infinity War, Part 2, Marvel theoretically could be clearing screen space for: Captain America; Iron Man; Thor; The Hulk; Black Widow; Scarlet Witch; Hawkeye; Vision; Spider-Man; Falcon; all five Guardians of the Galaxy; Black Panther; Ant-Man; The Wasp; War Machine; Doctor Strange; and Captain Marvel. And yes, that means each actor playing those parts will have to get paid.
So while it’s very early to start throwing around concrete statistics, the reported floated by Bleeding Cool that the two Infinity War films will reach $1 billion in production costs is believable. It’s also believable that, if the movies are as massive as we’re assuming, Marvel will have no trouble earning that back in worldwide ticket sales.