After a ten-year journey, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is finally reaching its apotheosis. Could the Avengers: Infinity War box office results be the jewel in Marvel’s crown?

The most visionary and complex cinematic pursuit of our time, perhaps ever, Marvel’s superhero film universe has set all kinds of records in its time.

The series, comprising of 19 feature films (including the upcoming Infinity War) ten television shows (with a further four in development), five short films, two web series, and 29 tie-in comic books, has become one of the biggest entertainment projects ever thought up.

Between the first film in the series, Iron Man, and the most recent, Black Panther, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has made $13.6 billion at the box office alone, according to figures provided by comScore.

That’s over half of the total box office gross for every superhero film made this century. It’s also about $10 billion more than all the films’ gross budgets added together.

Safe to say, these films represent a great return-on-investment for Marvel.

After ten years and 18 critically-acclaimed films, the stage looks set for Infinity War to give another huge performance. Of course, it would be great for Marvel to say they’d created the highest grossing film ever.

But how likely is the Infinity War box office to get there?

Could the Avengers: Infinity War box office become the highest-grossing film ever?

As it stands, the highest grossing film ever is James Cameron’s 2009 hit, Avatar. It had a worldwide gross of around $2.79 billion. Since then, no other film has come close to matching Avatar‘s box office total.

The closest amount made by a subsequent film was 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens. That film made around $2.07 billion at the worldwide box office.

In terms of highest grossing films, the closest Marvel came was with The Avengers. That film made $1.5bn in 2012. At the time, it was the third highest grossing film ever, after Avatar and Titanic. It has since been knocked down to fifth place by Jurassic World and The Force Awakens.

So can Avengers: Infinity War climb to the top of the pile?

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Kyle Entwistle, a film content analyst at Vue Entertainment, one of the UK’s biggest cinema chains, told Verdict he’s not convinced:

Current tracking in the UK definitely places the film above the lifetimes of The Avengers (£51.8m), Avengers: Age of Ultron (£48.3) and Black Panther (which should just cross £50m soon), so I would safely say we’re looking at the biggest grossing comic book film of all time in the UK.

However it is highly doubtful it’ll be the highest-grossing film of all time. In the UK that would mean a gross well over £100m, with Star Wars: The Force Awakens reaching £123m. As for worldwide, there’s quite a gulf between Avengers’ $1.518bn and Avatar’s $2.788bn.

The film is going to be massive. However, it will take some doing for the film to reach the top three biggest films of all time. I think it will all come down to the quality of the film, and early buzz has been very good.

Good buzz for the Infinity War box office means big bucks

Not only is the conversation around Avengers: Infinity War positive, there’s also a lot of it.

ComScore’s figures show that five days before its release, Infinity War was generating a huge amount of online conversation. Those figures measure a conversation volume of 5,767,547.

The only score higher than that was Captain America: Civil War with a conversation volume of 6,169,618.

However, comScore measured the figure for Civil War after the film’s release. With five days to go until the release of Infinity War there’s plenty of time for it to meet, or even surpass the amount of buzz generated by Civil War.

The Infinity War review embargo will lift at 10pm GMT tonight. The release of the film’s initial reviews will almost certainly kick-start fresh conversation. That should generate even more buzz around the film.

Will Avengers: Infinity War be the biggest superhero movie ever?

It seems unlikely that Infinity War will become the highest-grossing film of all time. Still, it stands a good chance of becoming the highest grossing superhero movie ever.

Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at comScore, told Verdict:

To join the ranks of the rarefied air that is inhabited by the top grossing superhero movies of all time, massive amounts of revenue earned on a global scale will be required. Notably there are only seven films from the genre (five Marvel, two DC) that have crossed the $1 billion threshold at the worldwide box office.

There is absolutely no question that Avengers: Infinity War will eventually join their auspicious ranks.

The bringing together of the most beloved and revered Marvel characters in one giant superhero confection of a movie will prove to be rightly irresistible to fans who cannot wait to experience the pure joy of seeing the core group of Avengers joined by Black Panther and the Guardians of The Galaxy team.

The momentum created in the run up to Infinity War by Black Panther, Thor: Ragnarok, Spider-Man: Homecoming and Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 should not be underestimated and all the goodwill generated by those films over the past year will manifest in mega-blockbuster numbers that will kick off with an opening weekend that will rank among the best of all-time and an April opening record that is predestined to fall.

In addition, Black Panther became Marvel’s second biggest opening weekend ever with over 300 fewer locations than The Avengers.

Considering Marvel will almost certainly have booked even more cinemas for Avengers: Infinity War it would be surprising for it not to meet or exceed its predecessor.

When will we know the Avengers: Infinity War box office results?

Ultimately, it’s impossible to know how well Avengers: Infinity War will perform until it finally closes in theatres.

Judging by the success of Black Panther, which is still playing, we could be waiting until at least mid-July at the earliest before Marvel releases a final box office total.

Still, comScore’s figures show that Infinity War‘s opening weekend will say a lot about its eventual box office total.

There are five Marvel films which made over $1 billion at the US box office. All five of those made over $174 million on their opening weekend.

More broadly, making around $170 million on the opening weekend is usually a pretty firm indication that a movie’s lifetime box office gross will be over $1 billion.

In fact, we may even know Avengers: Infinity War‘s chances after the first day. All of Marvel’s other $1 billion-making films made over $68 million on opening night. Still, making the most on opening night doesn’t always translate to making the most overall.

It’s worth remembering Age Of Ultron made $84m on opening night. Meanwhile Avengers made $81m on opening night. The latter still made more overall.

Either way, it won’t be long until we know whether Infinity War will break into the top three highest grossing films ever, or whether it has to settle for just becoming the biggest superhero movie of all time.