May 6, 2012




So that happened.

THE AVENGERS:  Whenever a Sunday estimate just barely crosses a milestone threshold, it’s subject to adjustment on Monday, but whether the final number turns out to be $196M or $202M is a matter for headline writers–in any case, anything in the neighborhood of the $200.3M estimate is staggering, not to mention unquestionably far beyond the previous mark of $169.2M that was set by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.  


So far, at least, Avengers is remarkably unfrontloaded for a movie with so much advance hype.  Its 13% Saturday hold is better than almost any of the other top bakers’ dozen openings (the notable exceptions being the family-oriented Alice In Wonderland and Shrek the Third, with their logical Saturday matinee bumps, and the first Spider-Man, which was released a decade ago, before the Thursday midnight phenomenon started swelling Friday numbers).  Avengers is comparable to Iron Man 2, which fell 11% on its 2d day.  That Marvel forebear ended up making about 2 1/2x its opening weekend, and a comparable run would put Avengers at the rarefied heights of $500M, potentially the 4th highest-grossing film domestically of all time (behind only Avatar, Titanic and The Dark Knight).

Of course, for Avengers, the domestic gross is less than half the story.  The picture has also already made $441.5M overseas.  Its $151M estimate for the international weekend is down less than 20% from last weekend (although it did add some major territories, including Russia and China), and doesn’t yet include Japan.  It seems to be a cinch at this point to become only the 12th movie in history to make over $1 billion worldwide, and–what’s a couple hundred million between friends?–could easily find itself in the top 3 or 4 of all time (#3 is currently Deathly Hallows Part 2 with $1.33B) before it’s done.

HOLDOVERS:  This was not a weekend of “a rising tide lifts all boats.”  These days, with multiplexes showing lead titles on the hour or even the half-hour, and people buying their tickets online or otherwise before heading to the theatre, the “overflow” audience doesn’t really exist.  So last weekend’s winner THINK LIKE A MAN (Screen Gems/Sony) fell a steep 55% this time around, THE PIRATES!  BAND OF MISFITS (Sony) and THE FIVE-YEAR ENGAGEMENT (Universal) were both down around 52%, and SAFE (Lionsgate/Summit) and THE RAVEN (Relativity) plummeted over 65%.  The 47% drop for THE HUNGER GAMES (Lionsgate/Summit) was best in the Top 10, although it kept the blockbuster a tantalizing $300K behind Deathly Hallows Part 2‘s US total (it should get there tomorrow).

LIMITED RELEASES:  Fox Searchlight played the counterprogramming card, and it worked:  THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL had a very nice opening at 27 theatres, with a $28K average, untroubled by superheroes or 3D.  However, it was a bad weekend to expand.  Art-houses will be dumping DAMSELS IN DISTRESS (Sony Classics) as quickly as their contracts will allow, as a quadrupled run in 205 theatres resulted in an awful per-theatre average under $800.  The same studio’s DARLING COMPANION more than doubled to 46 theaters, and saw its average drop below $1500.  THE SOUND OF MY VOICE (Fox Searchlight) expanded to 28 theatres with a $1900 average.  BERNIE (Millenium), with a much smaller increase to a total of 8 theatres, was the exception, still at a fairly good $17.5K average.

NEXT WEEKEND:  Even if Avengers falls 60% next weekend, that will still be $80M going to Disney, giving Warners bigger nightmares than any of the vampires, witches or other supernatural beings in its new DARK SHADOWS.


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."