To this day, the two-part culmination of the Infinity Saga remains Marvel Studios' highest achievement. Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame were released in consecutive years, totaling 331 minutes of content. The lengthy runtimes did not hurt the receipts either, as both films sit comfortably in the top five worldwide lifetime grosses of all time.
Infinity War and Endgame made Marvel Studios a collective $4.8 billion. The Joe and Anthony Russo-directed crossover events are the only Marvel Cinematic Universe installments to individually pass the $2 billion mark, and both did it with relative ease. Endgame even stood alone as the highest-grossing film of all time for nearly two years, until a re-release of James Cameron's Avatar allowed the 3D epic to reclaim its throne in 2021.
While the return on investment left Mickey Mouse extremely satisfied, that initial investment was no small price.
Marvel's Avengers-Level Budget
No amount of money ever bought a second of time, but ten figures will get you two blockbusters.
Speaking at the Sands International Film Festival of St. Andrews (via Deadline), Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame director Joe Russo clarified that his two Earth's Mightiest Heroes films cost "$500 million plus" to make.
"I don’t know if these numbers have ever been accurately reported but in the case of Avengers: Endgame or Infinity War, each of those movies was $500 million plus. So this is an incredible amount of money that is being spent on these films."
Russo emphasized that because of those insurmountable budgets, he and his brother Anthony felt a "responsibility" to "deliver a return on that investment" when making Infinity War and Endgame.
"And you have responsibility, if you have a conscience to in some way deliver a return on that investment for the people that gave you that money."
The Infinity Saga's Billion Dollar Investment
These numbers may seem crazy, but the blockbuster budget is not what it used to be.
For decades, it was commonplace for the summer's biggest attractions to cost in the $200 million range for production expenses. Industry standard had marketing prices at roughly half the filming budget, which would consequently bring total investment to over $300 million. As of 2014, studios were said to be spending "$200 million per picture" on their tentpole films.
Deadline's Most Valuable Blockbuster Tournament crowned Endgame its 2019 champion for not just its receipts, but what was invested into it. The film's opening global weekend of $1.2 billion doubled the "combined $511M production and global marketing theatrical costs" Disney put into the production.
Marvel movies are a proven box office draw, but ten figures of funding into any project is a massive risk. Infinity War and Endgame were also shot back-to-back, meaning in the event that the former flopped, there was no getting that cash back from the latter.
Fortunately for Disney and Marvel Studios, Joe and Anthony Russo recognized that "responsibility," and have delivered four of the franchise's most beloved and profitable films. There's no guarantee the Russos will be back, but whenever Marvel is ready to back up the Brinks trunks for a crossover event again, they have a directing duo that they know they could count on.
Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame are streaming now on Disney+.