Update, 6/26: The next big benchmark for Avengers to clear is the $600 million mark in domestic receipts, and it looks like that'll happen sometime today. According to Box Office Mojo, Avengers is currently at a $599,387,534 domestic total, meaning it needs around $600k to nudge it to $600m, a total that only Avatar and Titanic have reached thus far. As it made $962,092 on Monday — which, let us remind you, was the movie's 53rd day of release — it's a safe bet it'll get there by the end of the day. On Box Office Mojo's "Adjusted for Ticket Price Inflation" list, Avengers is No. 27; on a similar list on BoxOffice.com, it ranks at No. 24. Update, 6/4: The Avengers is now the third highest-grossing movie of all time, on both the domestic and worldwide charts. The Joss Whedon-directed film passed the domestic total of former No. 3, 2008's The Dark Knight, this past Friday, making it officially the highest-earning comic book-based movie in history. Avengers has also moved ahead of last year's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 to move to No. 3 in worldwide totals. No. 1 and No. 2 on both lists are James Cameron films Avatar and Titanic, respectively, and Avengers looks to be a long shot to out-gross either of them at this point in its release cycle. The Marvel Studios film would have to make more than $100 million more domestically to pass Titanic, and more than $800 million worldwide. This past weekend, Avengers finished in third place in its fifth weekend of domestic release — behind Snow White and the Huntsman and Men in Black 3 — making an estimated $20.3 million. The film is still on pace to gross more than $600m domestically, just the third movie all time to reach that milestone. Two more high-profile comic book films will see release later this summer — The Amazing Spider-Man on July 3 and The Dark Knight Rises on July 20. Update, 5/13: Deadline reports Sunday morning The Avengers looks to add another $44.5m Saturday, on pace for a record-setting $104m in its all-important second weekend of release. This would represent just a 50% drop from its record-setting opening weekend, (a slightly better decline than The Dark Knight) and the best indication yet the film has a solid chance to reach $600m domestically, which would put it under just Avatar and Titanic, respectively, as the highest grossing North American films of all time. And Boxoffice.com reports Disney expects The Avengers to hit $1 billion worldwide by the close of the weekend, just its 20th in foreign release and 10th in domestic. The weekend's "actuals" will be reported Monday afternoon, and remember, all estimates wound up too low last weekend when the actual figures were finally reported. Update, 5/12: The box office trackers are all reporting Disney estimates The Avengers made $29.1m at the North American box office Friday, putting it on pace to possibly reach $100m in its second weekend, which would be the first time any film has ever pulled off that feat and obliterating the old record. The previous second weekend record holder was Avatar, which made $75.6m in its second frame. The better news for Disney, however, is that despite its record-shattering opening weekend, The Avengers will only decline in the Dark Knight-like low-50% range, which again indicates the film is poised to show strong legs in weeks to come and eventually climb to the upper reaches of the all-time domestic and international charts. The Avengers currently stands at $299.1m domestic and $555.2m foreign grosses for a worldwide total of $854.3 million. Update, 5/8: Boxoffice.com reports The Avengers made $18.9m at the North American box office Monday, which is a 67% decline from its Sunday total of $57.1m. This is consistent with the first Monday declines experienced by 2008's Iron Man and 2011's Thor, which dropped 73.4% and 68%, respectively, during comparable early May time frames. This is a very early indication The Avengers opening weekend was not massively frontloaded and that the film could show similar "legs" as those earlier films (as detailed in the original story below). The drop was greater than 2008's The Dark Knight, which declined just 43.8% its first Monday, but that was during July when kids, teens and college students were not in school. The next benchmark for The Avengers will be its second week drop. As detailed in the original story, Iron Man and Thor dropped less than 50% their second weekends. The Dark Knight dropped 52.5% its second frame, but again that was partly due to stronger summer weekday performance. Monday's foreign cume was an even more impressive $28.5m (consider it made $151.5m in foreign territories over the weekend) - putting The Avengers international gross at $702.2m after just 13 total days in global release. At similar rates over the next week to 10 days, the film could challenge Harry Potter 8's $1.33 billion dollar gross, third all time after Avatar and Titanic. Original story: So now we all know Marvel's The Avengers has posted the biggest opening weekend in North American box office history (by nearly $40 million dollars), including all-time record Saturday and Sunday grosses.
It did leave a couple of opening weekend records on the table. The previous record-holder — Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 still holds the all-time record for single biggest day at $91m (its opening Friday) — a total that includes an all-time record $43.5 million in midnight showings, gargantuan compared to The Avengers relatively modest $18.7m midnight grosses.
But it's in fact these records that The Avengers didn't break that suggest some staggering possibilities for its future earnings, including a possible domestic gross of over $600m, or better.
2011's final Harry Potter installment's midnight and Friday records were of course aided by the fact it was a July opening, when kids and teens did not have school to attend the next day. But Harry Potter 8 wound up grossing "only" $169.2m for its first weekend as a whole, or in other words, it showed unusually heavy front-end demand, even by genre standards.
That The Avengers is already showing early signs of box office “legs”, particularly during its record-setting Sunday, is what should be sending Disney bean counters into a frenzy right about now.
Comic book movies and summer tent pole films (The Avengers is both) almost always show very high upfront demand, but within that framework there are still differences and this is where the ranges of possibilities become impressive.
The Avengers has a couple of factors working in its favor for having a better-than-average box office shelf life. For one, critical and fan buzz is through the roof — with its current RottenTomotoes.com critics approval rate standing at 93%, along with receiving a rare A+ CinemaScore, an exit poll of actual moviegoers. This suggests positive word of mouth (not to mention social media buzz) that could help carry the film over standard genre demographic lines as well as robust repeat business.
Secondly, news of its record-setting weekend and impressive foreign receipts will feed into greater public awareness of the film heading into this coming weekend.
What kind of numbers could The Avengers eventually produce?
Using Boxofficemojo.com’s “Showdowns” feature could provide some guidelines. Of the five previous films in the Marvel Avengers series, the highest opening weekend percentage of box office total (meaning how much of its total gross did it make in its opening weekend) was the relatively poorly received The Incredible Hulk’s 41.1%. Plug that percentage into The Avengers opening figures and that would put it on pace to make a minimum $504m in North America alone at the end of its run.
But 41.1% is a relatively weak number. Last year’s Thor and Captain America — both fairly well-received and also 3D like The Avengers – scored almost identical figures of about 36.5% of their total grosses in their opening weekends. If The Avengers performed similarly, it would eventually accumulate $568m domestically, which would surpass The Dark Knight's $533m from 2008.
But could Marvel and Disney’s latest perform similarly to 2008’s Iron Man or The Dark Knight, both movies with the type of critical and fan buzz The Avengers is basking in? Plug those percentages in and the numbers become gigantic.
The Dark Knight did 29.7% of its total business its opening weekend and Iron Man 31%. Roughly split the difference, plug 30.5% into The Avengers totals and you get a monumental $680m.
And we haven’t even talked international figures yet, where The Avengers’s estimated $447.4m foreign gross is only a little over $20m shy of The Dark Knight’s $468.6m, a figure it will zoom by this week.
Where do the final tallies stop? $1 billion worldwide is practically inevitable. A crash into the all-time worldwide Top 4 is possibly within reach, with #5’s The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King’s and #4’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon nearly identical $1.12 billion totals likely to be moved a notch down the list.
The first sign of legs to watch will be this weekend, where The Avengers will attempt to be the only film in history to notch $100m in its second weekend of domestic release.
But it’ll need to perform slightly better than the 52.5% The Dark Knight dropped in its second weekend. Anything closer to the 48.1% drop by Iron Man or Thor’s 47.2% drop and The Avengers will make unexpected box office history… again.
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