Endgame’s’ influence will be hard to quantify, harder to repeat – Daily News

on Apr27
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It’s unprecedented! It’ll be worth billions! It’s just plain Marvel-ous!

Hyped any way you care to, or not, “Avengers: Endgame” is like no other movie ever released.

The culmination of 11 years and 21 other films (and a couple of TV shows) in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “Endgame” is expected to break all opening weekend box-office records. The high-end North American estimate was $330 million by mid-Friday, trouncing the $258 million mark set by its own prequel, “Avengers: Infinity War,” a year ago. And “Endgame” has a decent shot at becoming the all-time highest-grossing domestic title (“Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” at $937 million, currently holds that position) and maybe even in the world (it’ll have to beat “Avatar’s” $2.788 billion for that).

Still, “Endgame” alone isn’t going to repair a sluggish boxoffice year, the first quarter of which ended more than 16% behind 2018’s admittedly record, Marvel’s “Black Panther”-fueled haul. The film is also the big pivot point where 22 movies based on diverse comic book superheroes – ALL of which opened at the top of the box-office chart, btw – come together and move into an uncertain future where some of the most bankable characters will no longer be around.

Will The Walt Disney Company, which bought Marvel Studios in 2009, find similar success with such upcoming AE (After Endgame) features as “The Eternals”  and “Shang-Chi” — neither a household name — from its Kevin Feige-led subsidiary as it did with the Iron Man trilogy?

Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) in “Avengers: Endgame.” Photo: Marvel Studios

“How can you top, or match, 22 No. 1 openings in a row and, to date, almost $19 billion in worldwide boxoffice over the course of 11 years?” queried Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for the Sherman Oaks-based media measurement firm Comscore. “I mean, they have set the bar so high. But I have complete confidence in Marvel to parlay this into even bigger, unimaginable successes. You can’t underestimate that team, their vision and their strategic plan (which most of us don’t even know what it is).

“Not everyone’s going to be able to do this super universe, billions of dollars over 10 years thing,” Dergarabedian added. “It’s just not simple.”

Certainly, no one else has been able to do it so far. Rival Burbank-based studio Warner Bros. has tried and failed to turn its DC Comics properties into a similarly extended movie universe, and is happy now when standalone films based on iconic, decades-old characters such as “Aquaman” and “Wonder Woman” do about as well as Disney’s introduction of its all-but-unknown “Captain Marvel” did in her first movie this year. Down Barham Blvd., Universal’s attempt to create a “Monsterverse” with its classic creeps was pretty much strangled at birth by that Tom Cruise “Mummy” reboot.

At this point, the less said about Disney’s fan-offending approach to its other big pop culture acquisition, “Star Wars,” the better. Harry Potter may have been the closest on-screen precursor to the MCU, but once those kids grew up and they ran out of their J.K. Rowling books to adapt, they’ve had a bad spel trying to make the “Fantastic Beasts” expansion of that wizardy world anywhere near as popular as the HP movies.

So, no other real challengers to the MCU on the horizon, especially with Disney’s recent purchase of Fox’s film assets. That means Feige and company will have even more key Marvel intellectual property, such as X-Men and Fantastic Four, to play with that had been off-limits due to pre-MCU licensing agreements. That and November’s launch of the streaming service Disney+, which already has several new Marvel series such as “Loki,” “WandaVision,” “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” a Hawkeye show and “Marvel’s What If . . . ?” in the works, all seem to point to a busy MCU AE future.

Just don’t expect a lot of it to take place in Southern California. “Captain Marvel” is the company’s only recent film shot in and around L.A., and although Feige enjoyed filming it at home, he told the Southern California News Group last year that it was an exception, since the state’s production incentives weren’t anywhere near what they are in places like the United Kingdom and Georgia (where “Endgame,” like most Marvel movies, was shot).

On a panel for the Association of Film Commissioners International meeting in West Hollywood earlier this month, Marvel Studios’ executive vice-president for physical production Victoria Alonso reinforced that notion. Despite having found some success by increasing its tax credit outlay from $100 million to $330 million per year earlier in the decade, California still doesn’t offer enough in production incentives to attract many big shows like hers.

Scarlett Johansson in “Avengers: Endgame.” Photo: Photo: Marvel Studios

“Why can’t we just shoot here?” Alonso rhetorically asked. “Is it that hard? People like me, perhaps, can only do one movie when we’d like to do all of our movies here. But seriously, L.A., why can’t we sort it out?”

Another barrier to big movie production in L.A. is a lack of soundstage space, what with streaming services like Netflix greenlighting shows right and left (and more, like Disney+, gearing up). Even with its new stages on the Fox lot, Disney faces the crunch like everyone else. The situation is now international in scope, and has become part of the calculation about where to make big movies.

“We try to work it out,” Alonso said on the panel. “It really is timing, and we will go wherever we have space and where the story dictates.”

“What kind of economic impact, then, does a phenomenon like “Endgame” have locally? Well, a lot of movie theater employees should be getting overtime pay as it screens ’round the clock this weekend. There’s already a “Guardians of the Galaxy” ride at Disney’s California Adventure park, and plans to put up an adjacent, Spider-Man and Avengers-themed land next year have been in the works for many months before “Endgame” opened.

We’ll see if that gets as big a push as Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge, which opens at the end of next month across the way in Disneyland, is enjoying right now. Either way, the jobs generated by the new Marvel attraction, like those in movie theaters, aren’t likely to be very high-paying.



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