As I am about to wrap up an entire week, I can assure you I am looking forward to seeing the Avengers: Endgame trailer. It has only been a month since I last saw the Avengers ensemble together in The Incredible Hulk — likely our last perfect reuniting experience, so time for another one. Last summer was all about “People-Talking-At-eachother” as Marvel’s news hit in the wake of the franchise’s new film, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. In hindsight, though, we can go back to the end of Iron Man 2 just to recap everything that happened.
Films by director/writer Shane Black, who returns for the fifth time with the sixth installment of the Iron Man franchise, open June 29. Their last film, Iron Man 3, was a dud.
Now, that release date is, of course, two days ago. While so many films set for mid-week openings—from Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water to Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name—have easily ignored them in their fate, Marvel films haven’t. Marvel has always looked to fall back on week one — hit comedy hits like Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and its fourth annual April release date pertain to the same period as an opening.
This year’s Iron Man 3 is shaping up to be Marvel’s premiere Mid-week release. The first-ever premiere date for an Marvel film and a comic book movie has to have provided the imprint with an all-important foothold right out of the gate. Last year, Marvel released Captain America: The Winter Soldier the same day the MCU regular opened. The week before Avengers: Age of Ultron became the first Marvel tentpole to debut on VOD, Marvel released Phil Coulson’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. for one night only. Could the premieres of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Ant-Man. or Avengers: Age of Ultron, just for two days, put the film’s box office claim out there? Last year, however, four Marvel films were released by Sony (Spider-Man: Homecoming, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Guardians of the Galaxy), all of which drew criticism from critics as well as moviegoers.“It has a lot of drawbacks,” Christin Gaston, executive VP, A.C.E. Studios, tells Variety. “[Those films] are released on different days, and the theater audience has different tastes in comedy… It’s very uneven to get the strongest reviews of the film, and they’re really difficult to predict. How do you get that much participation at the weekend, and when?” (Point-counterpoint: the opening of The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier on IMAX screens did solid but nowhere near the same amount of business that Marvel’s films draw at retail.)
And yet there’s no reason not to acknowledge that these openings aren’t worth the wait in theaters. If Marvel gets two months of consecutive acclaim for two universally loved movies, and tries to move on with the summer movie season by offering a particularly strong selection of competition, that would be good for ticket sales.
More importantly, audiences just have to see it. It will be interesting to see how our four-minute ad for Endgame performs. After a six-month absence in theaters, where Marvel has been so relentlessly retroactive, I haven’t seen a Marvel release in 19 months, as Marvel flexes its comic book muscles with competitive comic book and Hollywood films. If he’s not sleeping in, I expect Black’s film will not just earn a handful of dollars, but well over $100 million in its opening weekend.
As a mere matter of bragging rights, Hollywood needs an outlet. This kind of movie is why action movies (in particular) dominate box office charts. It’s because action movies allow fans to congregate and tell stories at a time when major studios have until now been stalling. As Tony Stark told Mark Hamill in Guardians of the Galaxy in a scene that presaged the Infinity Wars storyline, “It’s all about action movies, right?” When Avengers: Endgame takes over theaters June 29, we’ll finally be able to say that.