Box office: you just got Avenged.
Combining the feature attractions of four separate blockbusters, "The Avengers" was looking to at least surpass the first weekend gross of "Iron Man 2," which pulled in a non-3D three-day total of $128 million during this weekend two years ago. However, few expected the team-up film to surpass the final domestic tallies of both "Thor" and "Captain America: The First Avenger" in its first three days, roughing up previous weekend record-holder "Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part Two" in the process. That 3D-enhanced final installment of the 'Potter' series still holds the record for the biggest opening day at $91 million, but "The Avengers" will finish Sunday with a record breaking $200 million opening weekend. Hooray money!
You want numbers? How about this? By the end of Sunday, "The Avengers" will boast a worldwide tally somewhere north of $600 million. You want stats? "The Avengers" is peeling out of the gate with a shining A+ Cinemascore from all audiences. You want promises for continued success? "The Avengers"' coming competition is the shaky-looking culture-clash comedy "Dark Shadows" and the critically-lambasted "Battleship," the latter of which "The Avengers" just bested on a worldwide level upon its debut, by a considerable margin.
The immediate fallout from this opening is significant for Marvel, as this is their first effort under their new Disney ownership (Paramount retains a fraction of the rights). They've gone on record claiming "The Avengers" was the end of their "Phase One," and with the immediate future containing sequels to "Iron Man," "Captain America" and "Thor," it also looks like they could afford to take an expensive risk or two, as long as it builds to "The Avengers 2." All eyes are on the May 16, 2014 release date, which Marvel has claimed despite not having a title, a director, a star… might be the first time anyone's ever claimed an opening weekend for a movie that doesn't in any way exist (at least not publicly). At this point, no one's gonna doubt Marvel, as "The Avengers" undoubtedly puts them at the top of the box office game.
Most of "The Avengers" actors are already under contract for a few more Marvel offerings, so this doesn't do much to boost their profiles, with the exception of Robert Downey Jr. He's carried the Marvel onscreen universe thus far as one of the industry's bonafide A-List blockbuster attractions — lest we forget, "Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows" grossed $534 million worldwide last year. It's not quite clear how many more movies RDJ has on his contract, but Marvel will likely be eager to lock him down for further films. This is also a huge win for Joss Whedon who now gets the official Chris Nolan Blank Check. Spend it wisely, Mr. Whedon.
Meanwhile, other movies. "Think Like A Man" ended its two week reign at the top, losing half its audience to cruise past $70 million domestic. $100 million is a possibility, but at this point, the victory was in that massive opening weekend. Also bleeding out was Lionsgate's "The Hunger Games," which just crossed $380 million and could very possibly surpass $400 considering it's still in the top three after six weeks in theaters.
A bit of a cluster keeps spots three, four and five fluid as "Hunger Games" stays above "The Pirates! Band Of Misfits" and "The Lucky One." The Aardman 'toon has 3D on its side, though the film registered a steeper-than-usual drop for an animated film, after an already feeble opening number. "The Lucky One" is knocking on the door of $50 million, and it's got another ten or fifteen more before it's tapped out. As far as Nicolas Sparks adaptations, it may not eclipse the $63 million gross of "The Last Song" but it's sure to surpass the $52 million take of "Message In A Bottle." Dude is a brand name. Good for us.
The rest of the lineup was made up of April leftovers, none of which have lit the box office on fire. "The Five Year Engagement" is less "Bridesmaids" and more "Drillbit Taylor" as far as Judd Apatow-produced efforts go. Meanwhile, there were large drops for underperforming second-week star vehicles "Safe" and "The Raven," which investors are hoping will be huge with Redbox audiences. "Chimpanzee" and "The Three Stooges" both filled up the final slots in the top ten because something had to. 'Stooges' should finish around $45 million, a decent victory for a springtime programmer, particularly considering a trailer that some felt was toxic. The Farrelly Brothers live to fight another day.
In limited release, "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" added to its impressive $73 million worldwide tally with a muscular $750k stateside, on only twenty seven screens for a $27k average. In a similar ballpark was the wildly successful expansion from three to eight theaters for "Bernie," which brought in $140k for a $17k per-screen. Also with strong arthouse numbers was ballet drama "First Position," grabbing $51k on five screens. And Kate Hudson was once a box office queen, but that didn't help "A Little Bit Of Heaven" from crossing over. In eleven theaters, "Heaven" pulled in a meager $9.8k, a far cry from the usual $40-$60 million you could guarantee from a Hudson vehicle. Support your local arthouse theaters, boys and girls.
1. Marvel's Franchise This! (Disney) – $207.4 million
2. Drink Like A Man (Sony/Screen Gems) – $8 million ($73 mil.)
3. The Hunger Games (Lionsgate) – $5.7 million ($380.7 mil.)
4. The Pirates! Band Of Misfits (Sony) – $5.4 million ($18.5 mil.)
5. Oh Look, Nicolas Sparks Squirted Out Another One Of These (WB) – $5.4 million ($48 mil.)
6. Judd Apatow's Schlub Guy And Hot Girl, Part Nine (Universal) – $5 million ($19.2 mil.)
7. The Raven (Lionsgate) – $2.5 million ($12 mil.)
8. Safe (Relativity) – $2.4 million ($12.8 mil.)
9. Chimpanzee (Disney) – $2.3 million ($23 mil.)
10. The Three Stooges (Fox) – $1.8 million ($39.6 mil.)