Avengers: Endgame has had a monumental run at the box office. It's the highest grossing movie of the year both domestically and globally by a wide margin. It's set nearly every box office record that it was capable of setting. However, one record alludes Endgame. While it has come awfully close, it has not become the highest grossing movie of all-time world wide. Endgame is less than $40 million from that milestone, which in box office terms isn't a great deal, but the movie has largely run its course and so it seemed that record would remain underachieved.
However, with news that Avengers: Endgame is about to be re-released, with some brand new footage, the film seems poised to get a box office boost that will carry it over the finish line. Is this really all happening just so Disney can break a record? And if so, will it work?
While Disney has never given a "reason" for this decision to add additional footage to Avengers: Endgame, the ultimate reason is clear, it's to make money. That's the reason any decision is made in terms of the box office. However, it seems that more than simply making money, there's a specific effort to make enough money to set this specific record.
Since the dawn of the VHS era, seeing movies re-released in theaters at all is a somewhat rare occurrence. It used to be the standard way that movie distribution was handled. Disney had its classic animated films on a pretty standard seven year rotation so that new generations of kids would have a chance to see its films on the big screen because there was no other way to do it. However, once people had the ability to own the films and watch them at home, this largely died out.
Most of the re-releases we have seen over the last couple decades have come as part of the increased use of 3D in theaters. Movies like The Nightmare Before Christmas or Disney's animated Beauty and the Beast were given 3D treatments they didn't have before and dropped into theaters so fans could experience the films in new ways they couldn't before.
In those cases, however, the films saw re-releases years after the original had come and gone. Calling the Avengers: Endgame situation a "re-release" in the first place is splitting hairs. The film was still viewable on 985 screens this past weekend which, while a fraction of 4,662 the movie opened on, is still more than a lot of movies that are a lot more recent.
The thing is we've never seen Marvel Studios do this and add additional content to a recent film to try and get people back to the theaters. It's happening here and now for this one movie and if it was just a case of making a bit more money, we'd probably have seen it happen before. It seems quite clear that the purpose is get Avengers: Endgame to cross the threshold that will make it the highest grossing film worldwide ever.
I have to say I find this a little surprising, while the bragging rights associated with breaking the record are obvious, and more money is always welcome,especially in a publicly traded company, is it really that big a deal? Disney now owns the Avatar franchise and in 20 years after Disney has released the planned four sequels, and then probably supplemented that with a Disney+ animated series, an expansion to the Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park, and then added a new spinoff film series that starts the whole thing over again, the brand will clearly be a Disney property. Younger generations won't even realize the original Avatar wasn't a Disney movie to begin with, and most people who are old enough to remember won't care. Even if the original Avatar was still the highest grossing movie ever by then, does it matter?
It seems clear that to Disney it does matter, they want to own this record. Maybe because the studio has never had the success with the Academy Awards that other studios have, the company wants to be sure it is known as the king of the box office.
Of course, the next obvious question is, will such a move actually work? Since we've never had a situation quite like this before, it's difficult to find a comparative situation. The closest comparison we can make is to the recent release of Once Upon a Deadpool.
Last year we saw the release of Deadpool 2 during the summer, followed by the release of Once Upon a Deadpool in December. Like, Avengers: Endgame, this was a superhero movie seeing a re-release within the same calendar year, That sequel only grossed $6 million during the second time around. Whether that's because not many people were interested in a PG-13 version of the film, or because nobody needed to see the movie on the big screen again so soon, is unclear.
Of course, there are some significant differences between these two situations. A lot more time passed between the release of Deadpool 2 and its re-release. Also, a more significant change was made to the movie, as the re-release was actually a PG-13 version of a previously rated-R movie.
In the case of Avengers: Endgame, the amount of time that has passed since the film's initial release is much shorter, and the changes are, likely, less significant. The movie is mostly unchanged, with only some additional footage apparently being added to the end of the film.
Both of these factors would seem to count against Avengers: Endgame seeing much of a box office boost. Part of the draw to other re-releases is the fact that audiences haven't seen a particular movie on the big screen in a long time, but even if you saw Endgame opening weekend and haven't seen it since, it's only two months since you saw it. The additions also, appear to be minor. It's not like we're getting the equivalent of the Avengers: Endgame Director's Cut.
However, it could also be that the quick turn around will be a good thing. In the case of Once Upon a Deadpool, the Blu-ray for Deadpool 2 was already out so anybody who wanted to watch the movie could do so whenever they wanted. Endgame doesn't even have a release date for the Digital or Blu-ray version yet, this re-release may even push that expected date back, so if you want to see the movie again, this is the only way right now.
And then, of course, there's the fact that Avengers: Endgame is just a bigger movie. The fact that we're talking about Endgame means that this re-release is going to do better than it would if we were talking about any other movie. It will do better than the $6 million that Once Upon a Deadpool brought in. When you add in the millions of dollars that Endgame was already going to continue to make world wide before its run was over, combined with the bump this decision will add, it seems quite likely that the movie will pick up the money it's looking for and become the highest grossing movie of all-time, unadjusted for inflation, of course.