Finally, some good news for Disney in a year that's seen John Carter bring some ridiculously heavy clouds to the skies over the Magic Kingdom just for being a (relative) flop: Marvel's The Avengers looks like it's going to be a big hit, with pre-release tracking giving it an opening weekend of somewhere in the region of $125 million. Impressive? Sure. But also, just maybe a little low…?
Firstly, it's worth pointing out that tracking numbers can occasionally turn out to be amazingly off, if a movie turns out to bomb or hit it off with audiences in a way that trailers and early publicity don't accurately predict (See John Carter, for example). But I think the buzz for Avengers feels about right for the level of anticipation out there, which makes the $125 million figure feel like it's in the right ballpark, if a little low… After all, look at the download numbers for the trailers, which have broken records with their release - there's definitely excitement and anticipation out there for this movie. And yet… $125 million on opening weekend? For a movie that will have the option of 3D and Imax tickets (i.e., more expensive tickets)? Surely I'm not the only one who thinks Avengers is going to be much closer to Hunger Games opening weekend ($152.5 million) - if not, potentially, even bigger, considering the season and the fact that it's a sequel in all but name.
Of course, "just" $125 million would make it almost twice the opening weekend of Captain America: The First Avenger, which grossed $65.1 million when it debuted July 22 last year. That's pretty much the same number as Thor, which got $65.7 million on May 6 2011, almost a year to the day from Avengers' opening. Both of those movies, though, were far below Iron Man ($98.7 million in 2008, again first weekend in May) and Iron Man 2 ($128.1 million, first weekend in May 2010). The opening weekend of Incredible Hulk took $55.4 million in June 2008, embarrassingly lower than his last big screen outing, 2003's Hulk, which had an opening weekend of $62.1 million.
If you want to look at the numbers of non-Marvel Marvel movies, last year's X-Men First Class had a $55.1 million opening weekend beginning June 3), with a franchise high of X-Men: The Last Stand's $102.8 million in May 2006; Spider-Man 3 opened with $151.1 million in May 2007, the franchise high at least until Andrew Garfield takes over this year (we can but hope), and the Fantastic Four movie high was Rise of The Silver Surfer with $58.1 million back in June 2007. Getting off the superhero topic, Blade II was as good as it got for that franchise ($32.5 million opening weekend in March 2002) and Ghost Rider peaked with its first release ($45.4 million opening) in February 2007 (Of course, that might be a little too much information, considering…).
Nonetheless; I'm mildly convinced that, barring a sudden onslaught of terrible reviews, Avengers is going to do at least the $125 million opening weekend currently suggested, even if it somehow tails off and crashes and burns almost immediately afterwards (I don't think it will, by the way; I just think it'll open massively no matter what, is my point). That this will continue Marvel's success with movies won't be the story, of course, although it really should be; instead, expect to see multiple variations on "The Avengers Save the Day… And Disney's Bottom Line" in headlines around the internet, come the beginning of May.
Stan and Jack, Disney thanks you for your hard work. Just not with dollars, obviously.
(All numbers from Box Office Mojo.)