‘Infinity War’ and ‘Endgame’ cost $1 billion to make
Admittedly, Wikipedia isn’t the most reliable source of information on Hollywood budgets (or really anything), but it claims that Avengers: Infinity War cost Marvel “$325 to $400 million” and End of Game costs “356 to 400 million dollars”. And generally, that’s the range of budgets you see for movies online. (Perhaps everyone is just using Wikipedia for their numbers.) Together, that would put the two films’ budget at around $681-800 million in total.
It’s a huge sum of money, but according to one of the Infinity War and End of Gameby director Joe Russo, the actual cost of both films was much higher. Giving a talk to a group of film students at the Sands International Film Festival in St. Andrews (via Deadline), Russo revealed that “each of these films cost over $500 million.” In other words, the combined price of the last two avengers movies was $1 billion.
Of course, it was an investment that ultimately paid off; the films have grossed a combined $4.7 billion worldwide. And that’s just the money made in theaters; it doesn’t take into account home video, cable rights, or any of the millions (or probably billions) movies have earned through merchandising and licensing. Still, $1 billion on two movies is…a lot of money.
The topic came up as Russo explained some of his filmmaking philosophies, and in particular the importance of surprising audiences – which can be very difficult to do when there’s half a billion dollars on surprise. . Here’s how Russo explained it:
When you surprise people, you tend to have a deeper impact on them. So if your expectations are met, you can be successful up to a certain level. But if they are knocked down, you can succeed at an even higher level. The thing with that is that it’s very risky, because we’re talking in the case of… you know, I don’t know if those numbers have ever been accurately reported, but in the case of Avengers: Endgame or Infinity War, each of those movies cost over $500 million. So an incredible amount of money is spent on these films. And you have the responsibility, if you have the conscience to somehow offer a return on that investment to the people who gave you that money. So it’s risky to say “Hey, we’ve got a crazy idea, here’s how we can subvert expectations, but we’re going to take your two most popular characters and we’re going to have them try to kill each other.”
Russo also explained that there were some within Marvel who were very resistant to his and his brother’s preferred ending. Captain America: Civil War, which involved Iron Man and Captain America coming to blows, and many other Avengers getting imprisoned and others left on the run by the law. According to Russo, tension over whether or not to proceed with a more conventional ending led to him and his brother nearly quitting the film in protest.
In the end, the decision was made to follow their ideas, and Civil war became a huge success, paving the way for greater risks in Infinity War and End of Game. Still, imagine betting a few hundred million dollars on an ending that you think will surprise and delight audiences. It must be quite intense.
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