AMC Theatres is bracing for one of the biggest weekends ever at the box office when Marvel Studios’ “Avengers: Endgame” opens Thursday evening.
Seventeen of the theater chain’s locations are scheduled to remain open for more than 72 hours straight to accommodate demand for the opening weekend of the Walt Disney Co. film, which is expected to break sales records, the Leawood, Kan.-based company said Monday.
Another 18 AMC theaters are scheduled to be open around the clock Thursday through Saturday or Friday through Sunday, and 29 more are scheduled to be open around the clock Thursday through Friday.
Several AMC theaters in the Seattle area have showings beginning as late as 2:30 a.m.
Theater owners are pulling out all the stops to schedule additional screenings for the new “Avengers,” which could gross about $260 million in the U.S. and Canada during its opening weekend, according to people who have reviewed pre-release audience surveys.
That would exceed the previous domestic record of $257.7 million set last year by “Avengers: Infinity War,” and deliver a much-needed boost to the 2019 box office. Ticket sales in the U.S. and Canada are down 16 percent this year over last, according to Comscore.
The movie has already racked up pre-sale records. AMC said the film has sold more advance tickets than any title in the company’s history, surpassing 2015’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” which was also a Disney movie. Counting all domestic theaters, “The Force Awakens” sold $100 million in tickets before it even hit theaters, according to industry estimates.
But the surge in business has proved to be a logistical challenge for cinemas, which are trying to max out sales.
AMC and other theaters have been scheduling late-night and early-morning screenings for the movie in order to make up for its three-hour runtime, which limits the number of showings cinemas can schedule during more traditional screening hours.
A frenzy of ticket buying crashed AMC’s website for hours when passes went on sale earlier this month.