May 5, 2012



Well-played, Marvel/Disney.
THE AVENGERS:  Years of planning and marketing led to the 2d biggest opening day of all time, $80.5M, that was behind only Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 and its $91.1M.  (And Deathly Hallows 2 was far more front-loaded with Thursday midnight money, $43.5M compared to Avengers’ $18.7M.)  Now, the question is whether this will lead to a weekend that tops Deathly Hallows 2’s $169.2M.  Comparisons to other giant openings (Harry Potters, Twilights, The Hunger Games, The Dark Knight) suggest a weekend range of $150M-183M is likely, so Avengers will need to be around 60% of the way along that continuum to set the record.  All of this, of course, is on top of the $334M Avengers has already made overseas, which by the end of the weekend should mean a worldwide gross over $550M.

HOLDOVERS:  Oh yeah… them.  The current record for the biggest gap between a weekend’s #1 and #2 films is $130.7M (Dark Knight over Mamma Mia), and this weekend should blow past that.  THINK LIKE A MAN (Screen Gems/Sony) will be in 2d place for the weekend with around $8M, and even if Avengers is at the low end of its potential weekend, it’ll still be $140M or more ahead. THE FIVE-YEAR ENGAGEMENT (Universal) and THE PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS (Sony) should both fall a standard 50% from last weekend, and THE RAVEN (Relativity) and SAFE (Lionsgate/Summit) will likely crash 60% or more.
THE HUNGER GAMES:  The last blockbuster took its first big hit in boxoffice and theatre count, and will likely fall over 40% for the weekend (still excellent compared to other holdovers).  If it doesn’t pass Deathly Hallows 2‘s total of $381M by Sunday, it should get there early next week.  Also, the movie was cleared for release in China, despite its anti-authoritarian government slant, and since that’s now a huge international market, the movie’s overseas boxoffice should take another leap.
LIMITED RELEASE:  Fox Searchlight‘s counterprogramming of THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL is working out quite well, with a 27-theatre weekend that should have a per-theatre average of around $25K. The same studio, though, miscalculated by expanding THE SOUND OF MY VOICE to 28 theatres, and may not even reach a $2K average.   FIRST POSITION (IFC) is also beginning fairly well, with what should be a $10K average in 5.
NEXT WEEKEND:  Now that “summer” has begun, it won’t be unusual to see weekends with only 1 major opening, as the studios don’t want to go into direct battle with each other’s big guns.  Next up is Warners and its reboot? spoof? tribute? to/of DARK SHADOWS.  The studio will have to hope that loyal Tim Burton and Johnny Depp fans will show up in force, since Avengers will still be huge in its 2d weekend.

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."