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The Awe-ngers

The stage is all set for what is inarguably the global movie event of the year (if not decade): the worldwide release of Avengers: Endgame over the next few days – April 24 in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Australia, the UAE, Saudi Arabia  and parts of Europe; April 25 in South America, Israel, Cambodia, the UK and some other European countries; April 26 in North America, India (and other SAARC countries), Japan and Vietnam; April 29 in Russia; and finally, May 3 in Lebanon.

The buzz and anticipation around the film are at fever pitch and it would take a very brave (or foolhardy!) man to bet against it dethroning Avatar as the highest-grossing film worldwide of all time, a list on which its prequel, Avengers: Infinity War, is perched at number 4. 

Avengers: Endgame is a unique sequel in more ways than one. It is not only the culmination of last year’s global blockbuster Avengers: Infinity War or the fourth and final part of a series that also includes Marvel’s The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron, it is also the climactic finale of the current phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) – the mega-franchise and shared universe of superheroes that has yielded 21 films prior to the upcoming release.

It is not just the protagonists of the MCU that have otherworldly powers and are capable of superhuman feats; the films they feature in also tend to awe and shock with the colossal numbers they rack up at the global box office. As below:

*North America (United States + Canada)

^All territories excluding North America

~Conversion rate applied: 1 USD = 70 Indian Rupees

ºStill Running. Collections as of April 14, 2019.

These are some massive numbers, numbers so large, in fact, that it is hard to comprehend their true extent. So in order to give us some sense of perspective using benchmarks that we are more familiar with i.e. our films and our market, here are some comparators to make better sense of what the data in the table above really represents.

From the date that the first MCU film released – Iron Man on May 2, 2008 – till last Friday, April 12 2019, there have been a total of 1,948 Hindi language releases. Yet, the cumulative domestic collections (`26,567 crore) of these nearly 2,000 films are slightly above half of what 21 MCU films have earned (over `50,000 crore) in their domestic market!

Even though the 21 MCU releases so far are not necessarily the top grossers in North America – Black Panther ranks the highest at number 3, while The Incredible Hulk is the lowest ranked at 434 – their combined domestic collections are more than 9 times what the Top 21 Hindi films of all time have collected at the domestic box office (`5,453 crore)!

While the Hindi version of Baahubali: The Conclusion is by some distance the highest grossing film at the domestic box office, the North American collections of the 21 MCU films are more than 100 times what our number one film earned at home!

2018 was the most remunerative year ever for Hindi films, with a cumulative tally of just over `3,500 crore. Yet, the combined total of 203 Hindi film releases in this record-breaking year is less than 7 per cent of what the 21 MCU films have earned domestically and less than 3 per cent of their worldwide gross! 

Well, we could go on and on but these comparisons are fast crossing the line from being homage to the MCU’s spectacular achievements to an ego-pricking recognition of where we, the Indian film industry, stand! And if these numbers aren’t staggering enough already, bear in mind that the data above could well be bolstered by $3 billion or over `20,000 crore by the time the upcoming Avengers: Endgame completes its run.

So let’s not indulge in any more comparisons and, instead, put on our 3D glasses to, well, ‘marvel’ at the jaw-dropping action that will soon unfold on screen in cinemas across the world as also off-screen at the box office!


- Nitin Tej Ahuja

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