How 2 Italian American Guys From Cleveland Went on to Break Hollywood

The Russo Brothers' Avengers: Endgame has already raked in $1.2 billion globally, and is smashing box office records.

Once again, a couple of down-to-earth brothers from the Midwest are proving the sky is the limit for Italian Americans in Tinseltown.

Joe and Anthony Russo, the directors of Avengers: Endgame, have just unveiled the most popular (and most profitable) cinematic experience in Hollywood’s history.

Just take a look at the numbers so far, as audiences from across the globe flock to theaters to see the 3-hour film:

  • The movie’s record-breaking opening day ticket sales hit $156.7 million at the domestic box office, and the superhero flick has raked in $350 million in the U.S. as of Sunday.
  • To put it in perspective, the previous opening day record belonged to 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which grossed $119 million. The previous opening weekend record — $257 million — belonged to Avengers: Infinity War.
  • Avengers: Endgame has pulled in a record-breaking $858 million from the international box office, putting the worldwide take at $1.2 billion.
  • “The tentpole is playing in 4,662 theaters in North America, the widest release of all time. Some cinemas are staying open around the clock to meet demand,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“Reviews and ticket sales show that both critics and audiences love the film. This is truly an exciting time for our family,” said Basil Russo, ISDA President and father of the Russo Brothers.

But, the bigger story is that the Russo Brothers — who are lifelong ISDA members — weren’t just handed the keys to the Marvel kingdom.

Related: Russo Brothers Green Light 8 New Italian American Films

As grad students in the 90s, they nearly bankrupted themselves directing their first indie flick, Pieces, a film that caught the attention of director Steven Soderbergh, who offered to produce their next movie–the crime comedy, Welcome to Collinwood.

The brothers later gained the attention of Ron Howard, who had a hand in hiring the pair to direct the pilot for Fox’s Arrested Development.

However, their meteoric rise was sparked in 2013 when they fought for and won the opportunity to direct Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Their idea of painting “Cap” as a flawed character resonated with studio executives and audiences alike, and this concept of superheroes fighting both internal and external battles remains the most appealing part of their epic storytelling.

Congrats, Joe and Anthony–you’ve earned it!


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