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SYFY WIRE Avengers: Endgame

Experts banking on Endgame, Star Wars to snap box office out of worst slump in years

By Benjamin Bullard
Tony Stark / Iron Man in Avengers: Endgame

Maybe she’s enough to tip the balance in the fight to save the universe from Thanos, but even Captain Marvel can’t save the box office by herself. Three months and counting into 2019, Carol Danvers has been all that’s stood between overall low ticket sales and something…far worse.

Via The Hollywood Reporter, analysts are looking to the coming wave of genre blockbuster hopefuls, led by this month’s Avengers: Endgame, as the starting point for a rebound to a slumping box office that, so far, is well behind last year’s historically strong pace.

Of the 15 box office weeks already on the books for 2019, THR reports four have lagged far behind their same-week predecessors from last year, including the past weekend’s 27 percent fall versus this time a year ago. So far, the North American box office has managed just $2.74 billion in 2019 — the worst start since 2013, and far off pace from last year’s record-setting $11.9 domestic finish. 

For comparison, just two movies — Avengers: Infinity War and Black Panther — already had combined at this point last year toward earning an eventual domestic $1.3 billion all by themselves. That’s roughly half of this year’s entire North American box office through the first 15 weeks of 2019. 

Maybe it’s just tax season blues, but Hellboy’s weak $11.9 million debut marks only the latest in a string of less-than-stellar sci-fi, superhero, and fantasy openings. Alita: Battle Angel — which cost $170 million to make — has needed a strong overseas debut to offset its relatively modest $85 million domestic haul, and even Disney’s ears are drooping, thanks to the Dumbo remake’s underwhelming takeoff. 

Help is coming in the form of Endgame and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, as well as a ton of highly-anticipated genre standouts in between. But, as Yoda says, the future’s always in motion, and it’s difficult to see. Endgame already has basically broken the internet in ticket pre-sales, and paired with The Rise of Skywalker, it gives 2019 two blockbuster movies that aren’t simply next-chapter entries in must-watch series, but closing chapters in those series’ multiverse-spanning plots.

Analyst Paul Dergarabedian borrowed a Marvel quip in trying to read the tea leaves for how this year’s box office might rebound — or even set a new record. "It may be tough to imagine at this point that 2019 could ultimately post record-breaking revenues,” he told THR, “but a slow start that has handed the industry a 17 percent year-to-date deficit will in less than two weeks begin to assemble perhaps the greatest comeback in box office history with a monumental slate that will set into motion a herculean reversal of fortune.”

That would make for one heck of a comeback story. Like Thanos, maybe box office destiny is coming — and if so, it’ll be here starting April 26, when Avengers: Endgame welcomes fans to the rest of what’s still a hopeful year at the box office.