Box Office Prediction: ‘The Avengers’ Opening Will Come Close to Breaking Records

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Cue the Don Henley, because the boys of Summer have arrived. The girls are here, too. We don’t want to sound like Moviefone over here. Boys, girls, aliens, piranha. They’re all being represented this Summer, and the first of many earth-shattering weekends is upon us.

As with opening weekends of Summer’s past, the team over at Marvel have it all to themselves, this time with the culmination of years of tiring work. Will all the work be for naught? Hell naw. The Avengers is going to completely rule this weekend. The only question is what, if any, records will it be breaking. You take a look. We’re going back to Henley for the time being.

The Breakdown

The Avengers

  • Let’s be honest, comic book fans have been waiting for something like this for decades. The idea that Marvel pulled this off, got all of these characters under one roof after each of them gets their own film, is quite an accomplishment. You’d think they would be happy with this accomplishment and pack it in, but, no. They now have to actually release this film and make billions of dollars. You think that b-word was a typo, don’t you? Well, don’t. There are 11 films on the all-time worldwide gross list that have brought in $1b or more, and The Avengers has a damn good chance of doing that, as well.
  • But we’re looking at its opening weekend here. It’s dropping onto 4,349 screens, the 7th largest opening in history. Most of these screens will be charging 3D dollars and some of them are charging IMAX dollars. Those added costs will certainly accumulate from midnight Friday to midnight Monday. There’s also the fact that millions upon millions of people will be selling those theaters out.
  • The pre-Avengers films make up a wide range in terms of opening grosses. The Incredible Hulk debuted to $55.4m in 2008, the lowest of the five films. Iron Man 2 packed in enough viewers its opening weekend in 2010 for $128.1m, the biggest of the five. The Avengers will be trouncing that number readily. In actuality, it will be looking to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallow Part 2‘s $169.1m opening weekend for a high bar jump to overtake. Long story short, it won’t be doing that.
  • While the anticipation is monumental for The Avengers, there’s not a ton that will be driving new viewers to watch it. Sure, the film boasts quite the cast. Having all those faces on the poster isn’t doing it any harm. There’s also the idea that those pre-Avengers movie picked up fans from their places on DVD/Blu-Ray shelves. Fans of the series are larger in number now than they were even this time last year when Thor debuted to $65.7m and later last Summer when Captain America: The First Avenger pulled in $65m its opening weekend. There will be people who haven’t seen any of the previous films who will be seeing The Avengers, but not many.
  • You also can’t ignore the fact that The Avengers has already raked in $281.1m in foreign markets. It’s been generating buzz with its foreign box office since April 25th, when it opened in 8 different countries. The word of mouth from those markets, as well as the overly positive buzz it’s getting from critics and sneak previewers, is another feather in the cap that will be driving its opening number.
  • Will it be able to break The Dark Knight‘s $158.4m 2nd placement, though? That’s a different matter altogether. Long story short, yes, it will. Sorry Nolan fans, but 3D, IMAX, general buzz, and the fact that fans have been able to taste it for four, long years will be enough to boost The Avengers‘ opening weekend higher than The Dark Knight. What it won’t be doing is carrying along as mightily as the Batman film. Worldwide, there should be enough love for The Avengers to top The Dark Knight‘s $468.5m foreign take. However, its longevity here in the states won’t be enough to break $500m. That’s simply a feat not even The Avengers can take on.
Weekend Projection: $163.9m (#DUH on The Chart)

The Chart

  1. The Avengers – $163.9m NEW
  2. Think Like a Man – $9m (-48.8%)
  3. The Pirates! Band of Misfits – $7.3m (-33.4%)
  4. The Hunger Games – $7.5m (-30.2%)
  5. The Lucky One – $5.2m (-50.2%)
  6. The Five-Year Engagement – $5.5m (-48%)
  7. Safe – $3.6m (-52.6%)
  8. The Raven – $3.1m (-56%)
  9. The Three Stooges – $2.7m (-45.6%)
  10. Chimpanzee – $2.6m (-48.1%)

The Analysis

Any weekend where the top 10 at the box office bring in over $200m, whether it’s the Summer movie season or not, is a good weekend, and the $210.4m we’re looking at this weekend could result in partying in Burbank that’ll be heard in Pasadena. It’s a four-month long Christmas for people in Hollywood, at least those studios in Hollywood who don’t release disappointing stinkers. We don’t have a lot of high hopes for you, Battleship, but we’ll get to you in a few weeks. This weekend, it’s The Avengers time to shine, and shine it will. Leading a box office with some films that are still holding on strong – Think Like a Man could actually come in with double digits when all is said and done this weekend – it’s a healthy outlook for the rest of the Summer, box office flops and all.

Interestingly enough, no opening weekend to the Summer movie season has ever broken $200m. The closest we’ve come to that is 2007 when Spider-Man 3‘s $151.1m lead a $178.6m top 10. This kind of monster opening to the Summer will surely have release date analysts at studios wanting to clench that first weekend in May from here on out, not that it wasn’t prime real estate, anyway. Lucky for Disney and Marvel Studios, this seems to be the permanent placement for all, major films in the Marvel/Avengers world. With this film, with this opening, there will certainly be more to follow.

We’ll be back early next week to go over the weekend numbers.

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Jeremy's been writing about movies for a good, 15 years, starting with the film review column of his high school newspaper. He stands proud as the first person in his high school to have seen (and recommend) Pulp Fiction. Jeremy went on to get a B.A. in Cinema and Photography with a minor in journalism. His experience and knowledge of film is aided by the list of 6600 films he has seen in his life (so far). Jeremy's belief is that there are no bad films, just unrealized possibilities. Except Batman and Robin. That shit was awful.

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