Avengers: Infinity War and the Budget, Talent and Passion That Made it Happen

Avengers Thanos

“What If Marvel Threw a Superhero Party and Everyone Came?” That opening tongue-in-cheek question by Variety Magazine movie reviewer Owen Gleiberman aptly describes the 19th entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Avengers: Infinity War brings to the screen “the ultimate, deadliest showdown of all time. The Avengers and their Super Hero allies must be willing to sacrifice all in an attempt to defeat the powerful Thanos before his blitz of devastation and ruin puts an end to the universe.”

Is it “a movie that the American Entertainment State had to get out of its system?” Is it “a jumbled, top-heavy mess of cynical franchise overkill?” Some may say so, but Gleiberman at Variety claims that this “knowingly overstuffed Marvel mashup turns out to be bedazzling fun, despite the fact that this many superheroes means they’re all less special.”

Super Feats at the Box Office

Movie critics can cast aspersions, but fans cast their votes in droves. By May 13, 2018, Infinity War passed the $1 billion mark in the international market, becoming the fifth largest global release of all time. The May 22, 2018 domestic total stood at $601,381,683. That marks Infinity War as the eighth movie to cross $600 million domestic level since Titanic over 20 years ago, and the fifth to do so in just the last three years. This means Infinity War is now the seventh-biggest domestic grosser in its initial theatrical run, the third-biggest (behind Force Awakens and Avatar) worldwide.

Other notable box office records:

  • Biggest ‘Pure Friday’ GrossInfinity War earned $66.967 million on the first Friday (4/27/18).
  • Biggest Saturday GrossInfinity War wins again with $83 million (4/28/2018).
  • Biggest Sunday GrossInfinity War even celebrated a $69 million Sunday (4/29/2018).
  • Biggest Domestic Opening – With approximately $258 million, Avengers: Infinity Warwas the biggest film opening in North American history.
  • Biggest Worldwide DebutInfinity War earned $640 million worldwide.

So, what makes a movie earn this kind of money? What has this kind of appeal even across different cultures? The short answer is, talent before and behind the screen.

Feats in Production that Earned Box Office Feats

It’s true that talent goes where the money is, and also that money follows talent. Invest talent and hard work into a venture, and the payoff is usually quite satisfactory. Such is the case with Infinity War. While the investments were significant, the rewards are rich, indeed.

According to The Observer website, Infinity War is the fourth most expensive movie ever produced at approximately $300 million. This is behind two Pirates of the Caribbean installments and Justice League. Infinity War co-director Joe Russo shared with Sway’s Universe that the daily cost of production sometimes passed $450,000. Shooting stretched from January to January with only two weeks off.

Animation Feats

Co-director Joe Russo also shared, “The VFX are incredibly expensive on a movie like this, well into the hundreds of millions. So between those two (salaries and VFX), those are the largest categories that take most of the money.” No doubt this was because Infinity War took CGI to a complex new level and achieved outstanding VFX quality.

Actor Josh Brolin was required to undergo a series of detailed facial scans, recording complex expressions, in order for his character, Thanos, to display the most life-like facial expressions ever created by CGI. Jan Philip Cramer, Head of Animation at special-effects firm Digital Domain and Animation Director for Infinity War, and his team took precise measurements of every possible way Brolin’s face could move. Then, his anatomical structure was used to create Thanos’ face, allowing for a more life-like portrayal of the character than has ever before been attempted.

Phil Cramer’s 12-year innovative career includes some of the most highest-grossing films ever made, including Avatar, Ghost Rider, Spider Man 3, Deadpool, The A-Team, Independence Day: Resurgence, and Spider Man: Homecoming. His high-profile work spans tenures at Sony Imageworks, Weta Digital, and now Digital Domain where he serves as Director of Animation. Phil’s experience launches from his time spent at Academy of Art University in San Francisco, California. He holds a B.F.A. from the Academy’s School of Animation & Visual Effects and has also been awarded their Emerging Artist Alumni Award.

Phil was fascinated as a boy with the visual effects in the original Jurassic Park (1993). “When I was around 9 or 10, I decided that there were only two options for my life—I’d either create my own dinosaurs in movies or become a paleontologist,” Phil shared. “I didn’t want to take part in [outdoor] activities. I wanted to think and dream about things. I’ve always envisioned working somewhere I could create worlds and allow my fantasies to come to life.”

Academy of Art University proved to be just such a place for Phil to move from Dusseldorf, Germany and embark on the makings of a great career. ”The Academy put a lot of effort into showcasing the [Animation] program, and it looked like they were passionate about it,” Phil shared in a recent interview. “They have the knowledge, connections and successful industry professionals teaching classes.”

Acting Feats  

Lead actor Robert Downey, Jr. is the obvious draw for the entire franchise, as for the last several installments. As such, his salary is formidable, leading co-director Anthony Russo to joke that much of the production costs were funneled into Downey’s pay. This is partly true with Downey reportedly drawing a $50 million tag for Infinity War.

Other notable talent includes Chris Hemsworth, Elizabeth Olsen, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Josh Brolin, a cameo by Samuel L. Jackson, and the voice talents of Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel. This kind of skill onscreen doesn’t come cheap, with most of these pulling in a few million each.

Related: Academy of Art University Students Use Augmented Reality to Benefit Local Neighborhood


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