The Avengers including Thor, Captain America, Hulk and Iron Man assembled under director Joss Whedon to blow out the North American box office this weekend. The monster Marvel Comics superhero hit destroyed the competition and set the domestic opening weekend record to boot.
The heavily-hyped and anticipated film kicked off the 2012 Summer Movie season in a way Hollywood execs pray on a regular basis. Figures were up a ridiculous 162% over last weekend’s top ten and a big 57% over last year’s top ten at this time when Thor, another Marvel property, opened to a solid $66 million.
The road to The Avengers began in May of 2008 with Jon Faverau’s Iron Man and continued with five big summer films to introduce the members of The Avengers team (The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger being the other four). Anticipation for their assembly in a single film built with each passing new character introduction. No matter how the film turned out, it was a given that The Avengers would have a big opening. The only question that remained was just how big that debut would be.
The answer to that would be insanely big. Debuting on 4,349 theaters which included a large amount of 3D and IMAX 3D screens, The Avengers assembled a head-spinning $200.3 million opening weekend, including $18.7 million from midnight Thursday screenings and an additional $61.8 million during the rest of Friday. While the $80.5 million Friday is a remarkable amount, it didn’t set an opening day record. That honor still belongs to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 with $91 million.
When an event movie with a built-in fan base earns such massive amounts on its opening day, the Saturday and Sundays on opening weekend tend to suffer sizable drops in business. For example, the last Potter flick lost more than half (-54%) of its audience in its second day of release. The Avengers seems to be a different story. Its Saturday drop was only 13.4%, bringing in an estimated $69.7 million, while Sunday is looking at $50 million and a business drop of only 28%. If the estimated numbers for these two days hold, they will each have set a record for highest all-time Saturday and Sunday grosses, thanks in part to a Rotten Tomatoes score of 94% fresh and an “A+” CinemaScore (read our The Avengers review).
As if the $200 million mark wasn’t enough for Marvel and distributor Disney to break out the champagne, they can also celebrate the fact that the movie earned an additional $151 million in its second weekend from overseas market. With $641 million in the bank, the billion dollar mark could be shattered within the next 1-2 weeks. The movie has yet to open in several big markets, including Japan (which gets the movie in August).
In regards to the other films in the top ten, all suffered in the wake of The Avengers arrival. Last weekend’s number one film Talk Like A Man dropped 53% to earn $8 million in its third weekend and $73 million overall. The Hunger Games lost 47% of its audience to earn $5.7 million to bring its seven week total to a great $380.7 million. Katniss and company may land just shy of the $400 million mark in regards to its final gross (something tells me that Lionsgate won’t be losing much sleep over that).
Fourth place went to Warner’s romantic drama The Lucky One. Off 49%, the film earned an estimated $5.5 million in its third weekend to bring its total to the $47 million mark. Rounding out the top five was Sony/Aardman’s 3D animated feature The Pirates! Band of Misfits with $5.4 million. Off 51.5%, the film has earned a paltry $18.5 million in domestic sales.
The remainder of the top ten was as follows:
6. The Five Year Engagement (Universal) $5.1 million (-52%) $19.3 million to date
7. The Raven (Relativity) $2.5 million (-66%) $12 million
8. Safe (Lionsgate) $2.4 million (-69%) $12.8 million
9. Chimpanzee (Disney) $2.3 million (-54%) $23 million
10. The Three Stooges (Fox) $1.8 million (-65%) $39.6 million
Next weekend, Warner will debut the Tim Burton and Johnny Depp comedic take on the Gothic soap opera Dark Shadows to occupy the second place spot behind The Avengers. There’s a decent chance we could be talking about The Avengers closing in on the $1 billion worldwide box office mark by this time next week.
– Shawn Fitzgerald