Walt Disney Co. (DIS.N) is on track to continue its recent hot streak with Marvel’s release of the highly-anticipated Avengers: Endgame this week.

The film has already shattered records for advance-ticket sales, in part because of the cliffhanger finish to the previous Avengers blockbuster, Infinity War.

“You always hope the ending is the best part of the story. So I hope people are coming into the movie with those kinds of hopes and expectations,” Anthony Russo – who directed Endgame with his brother Joe Russo – said at the film’s Los Angeles premiere, which was live streamed on Monday.

While Disney had big hopes for Marvel when it acquired the business for US$4 billion in 2009, few could have predicted such consistent box office dominance.

A number one box office debut for Avengers: Endgame would represent the 22nd straight opening weekend win for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

The ambitious rollout has been carefully managed by Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige. MCU’s strategy weaves together a collection of Marvel movies that began with Iron Man in 2008, and eventually spawned the Avengers films, which feature high-profile ensemble casts.

Seven of those MCU films have grossed more than US$1 billion at the box office, including all three Avengers films, which have collectively generated US$5 billion.

Avengers: Endgame comes at a critical time in Disney’s evolution. It has to transform from the world’s finest content creator to a successful content delivery system at a time when Netflix and Amazon already carry that mantel,” Cyrus Mewawalla, a media and technology analyst at GlobalData, told BNN Bloomberg in an email.

Indeed, Disney recently unveiled its new streaming service Disney Plus, which will compete with Netflix Inc. when it launches in the U.S. in November.

Marvel films will play a key role in enticing consumers to sign up for Disney Plus, which the company forecasts will reach between 60 and 90 million paid subscribers by 2024.

As Disney unwinds its longstanding partnership with Netflix, some of the older Marvel movies will not be available for the Disney Plus launch initially. But all of its new films released this year and beyond will be streamed exclusively on the service following their theatrical release.

At Disney’s investor day, Marvel’s Feige made a point of putting a spotlight on Avengers: Endgame.

“There’s nothing more that I would love to do than show you the entire movie right now,” Feige teased analysts and reporters at the launch event, where he showcased some of the other Marvel original content that will be available on Disney Plus.

“If Avengers: Endgame is a multi-billion-dollar hit, investors will move one step closer to believing that Disney can take on Netflix,” GlobalData’s Mewawalla said.


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