April 17, 2012


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Written by: Mitch Salem
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Now that we’ve all taken a breath after the extraordinary success of The Hunger Games (and Lionsgate has had a chance to count its money), Hollywood’s real blockbuster season is about to begin, and indications are that it’s going to start off with a bang.  Audience tracking surveys normally begin measurement about 3 weeks before a movie’s opening, and according to The Hollywood Reporter, this week’s tracking has THE AVENGERS, which doesn’t open until May 4, scoring at or above the levels of Hunger Games and The Dark Knight in awareness, interest and first choice to see.  Assuming that nothing comes along in the next few weeks to disrupt the hype (like a string of terrible reviews), this could mean an opening weekend over $150M, possibly even nudging the $169.2M all-time record held by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.

None of this is as much of a surprise as the Hunger Games numbers–while Hunger was launched in the hope that it could be a potential substitute for the teen Twilight audience, The Avengers has been nurtured and developed, virtually in a studio test tube, to be a mammoth all-ages blockbuster from the start.  (And with Joss Whedon writing and directing, it might even be good!)  The breadcrumbs of the epic were being laid as far back as the “easter egg” coda to the first Iron Man, and you’d have to go back to Who Framed Roger Rabbit? to find such a combination of iconic characters in a single movie.  Disney, which now owns Marvel, so wanted to distribute the movie itself that it bought out Paramount–which through its release of Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America had the initial rights–and had to agree to a deal in which not only does Paramount get compensated as a co-distributor for doing nothing, but Disney isn’t allowed to use its own corporate name and has to distribute the movie under the “Marvel” brand.  
It may have been worth all the trouble.  And with a summer that also includes new entries in the Spider-Man, Men In Black, Ice Age, and of course Dark Knight sagas, not to mention such newer entries as Pixar’s Brave, Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, and Snow White and the Huntsman, a year that’s already been strong for Hollywood may well break records.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."