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Insane 48-hour Marvel movie marathons prove Disney's power

Daniel Roberts
Senior Writer

On Tuesday morning, leading in to the Thursday premiere of “Avengers: Endgame,” a handful of movie theatres across the country will begin screening all 22 Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movies in a straight marathon—and many of the marathons sold out.

It is further proof of the bankable power of Disney’s superhero film franchises—and the eye-popping success of its $4 billion acquisition of Marvel back in 2009. The Avengers series is set to conclude, but Disney has Black Panther, Spider-Man, and Captain Marvel sequels already coming down the pipeline, with no signs of the superhero frenzy slowing down any time soon.

48 hours of movies, 55+ hours in the theatre

Alamo Drafthouse is showing the marathon at its Brooklyn, New York location, starting at 1:30 p.m. EST. Tickets were $135, which comes out to $5.80 per movie. AMC is offering the Marvel marathon at just three locations: AMC Lincoln Square in New York City, AMC River East 21 in Chicago, and AMC Metreon 16 in San Francisco. AMC’s marathon begins at 10 a.m. EST on Tuesday.

The marathons show the MCU movies in the order they were released, not the chronological order of when its plots take place, so they start with the first “Iron Man” (released in 2008) and conclude with “Captain Marvel,” released earlier this year, leading into the first showings of “Avengers: Endgame.”

The total run-time of the 22 films is 2,872 minutes, or just under 48 hours. The marathons add 10-minute breaks between the films, plus some 20-minute breaks, so the marathons will last more than 55 hours total. The occasional longer breaks are necessary, in Alamo’s words, “to allow our cleaning crew to tidy up the place and mitigate any potential, uh, odors that may arise.”

Fans dressed as Marvel characters are seen during the premiere of "Avengers: Endgame" at the Los Angeles Convention Center on Monday, April 22, 2019. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

When will the marathon-goers sleep?

Alamo will allow marathon-goers to leave the theatre and come back; that would give anyone who lives near the theatre, or is staying somewhere near the theatre, a chance to shower.

But Trever Sprouse, a football coach at Sheehan High School in Wallingford, Conn., is attending the marathon at Alamo Drafthouse in Brooklyn and has no plans to leave the theatre. “During the breaks I might take a few walks around, but I plan to be in the theatre for every movie,” he says. “I’m bringing deodorant, Visine, tissues, whatever I need. For the last 24-hour stretch I'm going to be doing my best with Red Bulls and Monster. I took two days off work for this thing. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

Mike Caprio, founder of Brainewave Consulting, lives in New York City and has a different plan of attack. “I did make a little bit of a spreadsheet,” he says, “and there is a six-hour gap in two of the days where I will be sleeping. Movies that I don’t care about as much, like ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron,’ and movies that I’ve seen more recently, like ‘Thor: Ragnarok.’”

Photo: Screenshot/"Infinity Wars"/Marvel)

Sprouse has attended movie marathons in the past, including one in 2015 for all the “Star Wars” movies leading in to “The Force Awakens”—but that was only seven films. This is 22 films.

On its FAQ, Alamo says that marathon-goers can bring pillows and sleeping bags, but cautions, “We ask that all guests be mindful of their space when bringing any sleep aids. A small travel pillow is fine. Your life-size Scarlett Johansson body pillow should probably stay home.”

Comic book nostalgia

Caprio says some of his friends were aghast that he plans to spend two and a half days of his life in a movie theatre. But it’s about nostalgia. “I’m a fan of comics going back 35 years,” he says. “And I think the Marvel movies, they are showing things in cinema that you could only imagine and see on a page before. I could go on and on about the moments in these movies that have brought me all the way back to my childhood.”

That is the kind of fan sentiment Marvel and parent company Disney dream of hearing. “Black Panther” topped $1 billion at the global box office. “Avatar,” at $2.7 billion, still holds the record for global box office gross, but “Avengers: Endgame” is likely to come very close.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Alamo Drafthouse was showing the marathon at 12 locations in the U.S. and one in Canada.

Daniel Roberts is a senior writer at Yahoo Finance and closely covers Disney. Follow him on Twitter at @readDanwrite.

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