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China’s millions of Marvel fans were celebrating Friday, as news arrived that Disney’s Avengers: Infinity War will open in the country on April 24 — two days before its U.S. rollout on April 26.
The Marvel franchise is enormously popular in the Middle Kingdom — as much, or more so, than anywhere in the world. Avengers: Infinity War opened with a record of $199.3 million in China in April 2018, but it debuted there a full two weeks after launching in the U.S. and most major international markets. This time, China will be among the first to the party.
Some local analysts are already hazarding wild predictions that Endgame could be Hollywood’s first film to generate more than half a billion dollars in ticket sales. Three Chinese films have hit that milestone — Wolf Warrior 2 ($854 million), The Wandering Earth ($663 million and counting) and Operation Red Sea ($576 million) — but Hollywood titles have yet to crack the $400 million mark. The biggest U.S. releases to date are The Fate of the Furious with $392 million, Furious 7 at $390.9 million and Infinity War, which finished at $359.9 million.
Endgame, the 22nd installment in the MCU, is the culmination of the 11-year journey that started with Iron Man, and is a direct sequel to Infinity War from last year. The franchise’s start coincided with the beginnings of China’s box office boom era, meaning a whole generation of young Chinese filmgoers’ first memories of the multiplex are nostalgically linked to MCU superhero movies.
With Endgame now opening in China on a Wednesday (April 24), direct comparisons to past opening weekends will be somewhat imprecise. What’s clear is that the film has landed a near optimal spring release window.
Endgame‘s second weekend in China will overlap with the country’s Labor Day holiday, which grants Chinese students and workers off from Wednesday, May 1 to Saturday, May 4. But in a quirk of Chinese holiday scheduling, the weekdays off mean that both Sunday, April 28 and Sunday, May 5 become replacement work days. Still, the stretch of holidays and early release slot mean Endgame is well positioned for a record run in the world’s second-biggest movie market, where Marvel fandom is as fervent as anywhere in the world.
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