Box Office Recap: ‘The Avengers’ Made a Good Deal of Money

Everybody knew “The Avengers” would make money. Everybody. They’ve been building up to it for what seems like a decade, Joss Whedon was at the helm, it sat at 94 percent on the Tomatometer, it made $185 million in its overseas debut. In so many words, all the pieces were in place. That said, I don’t know if anybody expected this.

“The Avengers” made a record-breaking $200.3 million, the largest opening weekend in history. The total trounces the previous high of $169.2 million, set by “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” last summer.

Along the way, “The Avengers” toppled a number of other major records. It reached $100 million, $150 million, and $200 million faster than any other movie, set new highs for Saturday ($69.7 million) and Sunday ($50.1 million), and had the highest ever per-theater average for a nationwide release with $46,057. The only high score “The Avengers” didn’t take is largest opening day, making only $80.5 million to the “The Deathly Hallows Part 2’s” $91 million.

“The Avengers'” worldwide total of $641.8 million has already overtaken all of the team’s individual members’ totals. Coming closest are the “Iron Man” films, the first made $585 million and the second $624 million, while “Thor” made $449 million and “Captain America” took in $364 million. Oh, and for those of you counting “The Incredible Hulk” made $263 million.

The film didn’t make all that money without good reason. “The Dark Knight” may be the best ever movie about a superhero, but “The Avengers” is the best superhero movie. It played like a comic book, lighthearted and witty, but the action scenes did not disappoint. It seems there’d be a thick line between pleasing fanboys and those who have never picked up a comic in their lives, but “The Avengers” made it fine and walked that tightrope with grace. Everybody expected Robert Downey Jr. to continue to be great as Tony Stark, especially with Joss Whedon writing his lines, and he did not disappoint. But the film’s biggest question mark, Mark Ruffalo in his new role as the Hulk, stole the show.

Now, I could talk about how much all those other films made, but with these numbers it’s got to be pretty clear not many people who went to the movies this weekend saw something other than “The Avengers.” In fact, the film accounted for 82.7 percent of the roughly $242 million earned by the top 12 movies this weekend. That’s the second highest weekend market share of all time, behind only “Spider-Man 3’s” 83.3 percent.

Here are the results for this week’s top 10 at the box office:

Title/Weeks in release/Theater count, Studio/Three-day weekend total/Cume
1. The Avengers, 1/4,349, Disney/Marvel Studios, $200.3 million.
2. Think Like a Man, 3/2,011, Sony, $8 million, $73 million.
3. The Hunger Games, 7/2,794, Lionsgate, $5.7 million, $380.7 million.
4. The Lucky One, 3/3,005, Warner Bros., $5.5 million, $40 million.
5. The Pirates! Band of Misfits, 2/3,358, Sony/Aardman, $5.4 million, $18.6 million.
6. The Five-Year Engagement, Universal, 2/2,941, $5.1 million, $19.3 million.
7. The Raven, 2/2,209, Relativity/Intrepid, $2.5 million, $12 million.
8. Safe, 2/2,271, Lionsgate/IM Global, $2.5 million, $12.9 million
9. Chimpanzee, 3/1,531, Disney, $2.4 million, $23 million.
10. The Three Stooges, 4/2,174, $1.8 million, $39.6 million.


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Box Office Preview: ‘Avengers’ and Something About a Hotel

The Avengers

As I discussed over at Real Men Read Comics, Marvel has been building towards this one for a long time. After a long wait and perhaps too many attempts to connect the dots, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and the gang are coming together on the big screen.

I’ve actually got something nice to say about a new release, maybe even a few nice things. This is groundbreaking territory.

“The Avengers” was written and directed by Joss Whedon. This is the dude who brought us “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel,” and “Firefly.” If you don’t know what “Firefly” is, you need to find out. It’s on Netflix instant, so go on, get. I’ll even give you the link. Like his projects, Whedon has built up quite the cult following over the years. And, as if all that wasn’t enough, he co-wrote “Toy Story,” for which he was nominated for an Oscar. That’s right folks, motherfucking “Toy Story.”

“The Avengers” has all most of the stars of the individual films back in their roles. We’ve got Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Chris Evans as Captain America, and most importantly, Robert Downey Jr. in his perfectly sardonic portrayal of Tony Stark/Iron Man. Now, Mark Ruffalo may have replaced Eric Bana, er, Edward Norton as Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk, but that’s probably a good thing. If you’re sick of all these different Bruce Banners flying your way, don’t worry, Ruffalo recently signed a six-picture deal to play The Hulk.

Let’s not forget about the supporting cast, rounding out the team are Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, and Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye. But wait, there’s more, Tom Hiddleston will reprise his role from “Thor” as Loki, the film’s main villain. Hiddleston also played a brilliant F. Scott Fitzgerald in “Midnight in Paris.”

One of the ways you know a superhero movie, is great is when the dialogue is better than the action sequences. This is what we got in “Iron Man,” when oftentimes Tony Stark was more gripping with his super suit off than on. You should expect no less from Whedon, and according to Bullz-eye’s David Medsker, the Joss has delievered:

Once Whedon gets the cast in the same room and gives them the chance to interact as people rather than superheroes, the movie blossoms in a strangely wonderful way, one where it’s easy to wish that they would keep talking, rather than ramping up for the butt-kicking that is just around the corner. Indeed, until the climactic battle sequence, the action plays second fiddle to the talking, and as odd as that sounds for a superhero movie, it’s the right call.

If all this wasn’t enough, “The Avengers” has been certified fresh at Rotten Tomatoes, sitting at a 93 on the Tomatometer. For once, I’m actually excited.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

The only other film getting a wide release this weekend is “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.” Believe it or not, John Madden was actually able to direct a film that doesn’t star Brett Favre. Hold on. I’m getting word that it’s a different John Madden, the “Shakespeare in Love” John Madden. Oh, well things make more sense now.

Kidding aside, this is a film about a group of British seniors, including Academy Award-winners Judi Dench and Maggie Smith, who decide to “outsource” their retirement to cheaper and seemingly exotic India. When they get there, the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel doesn’t look quite as it did in the brochures so both hilarity and drama ensue. The film also stars Penelope Winton, whose interactions with Maggie Smith in “Downton Abbey” are fantastic, so hopefully we get some of that here.

There’s a reason no other movies are being released this weekend, studios were scared of “The Avengers,” and rightly so. But it’s pretty clear that “Hotel” is “The Avengers'” antithesis, and so too is its target audience. That said, with its award-winning cast and 78 rating on the Tomatometer, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” seems to be well worth seeing in its own right.


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Shane Black and “Iron Man 3” — a non-story worth mentioning

You guys have no idea how incredibly tired I am of stories about actors, directors, or writers “circling,” “eying” or even negotiating a given project. Still, sometimes an entertainment writer’s gotta do what an entertainment writer’s gotta do.


Tonight’s big story a possible example of what Hollywood always loves: the big comeback. In this case, Shane Black, the onetime highest paid scriptwriter in Hollywood, creator of the “Lethal Weapon” franchise at age 24, and writer-director of the charming, critically praised, highly imperfect, 2005 culty money-loser, “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang,” is reportedly in the running to write and direct “Iron Man 3,” obviously one of the bigger projects being tossed around right now.

Despite what seemed like a charmed career early on, Black’s life has never been easy. Moreover, his comeback since 2005 has been a mixed bag at best. Aside from the box office failure of his nevertheless widely liked directorial debut, he’s also had what appears to be the mother of all bad break-ups, the kind that gets you into TMZ, and probably the less I say about that, the better for everyone. Of course, the fact that “Kiss Kiss” starred Robert Downey, Jr. at a time when his own career and reputation badly needed a boost may not have hurt him getting this new gig. The movie made a pittance, but in terms of restoring Downey’s then very shaky credibility in Hollywood, it was priceless. Also, the notoriously penny-pinching Marvel may like the idea of using a talented filmmaker in need of a big break in terms of those negotiations.

I hope it happens and that it goes well. Despite the bad press in 2009, Black is certainly one of the better liked people in the geekier quarters of Hollywood, makes a great, unusually candid interview subject, and, though he has yet to create his true masterpiece, is clearly a talented and bright creator. I’m hoping this one takes.

After the flip, a moment or two of flawed genius from “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.” Read the rest of this entry »


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Everyone’s making a musical!

Okay, not everyone — just Robert Downey, Jr. and George Clooney. Maybe. You know how these things work.

Downey, whose been nursing a sideline as a singer for years (he plays piano and writes songs, too) is maybe not such a surprise. If you’ve never seen him sing, here he is with his 80s sensibility fully intact from the end credits of “The Singing Detective.”

Clooney’s only actual onscreen singing I could find was from “Return of the Killer Tomatoes” and barely qualified as singing. (He is supposed to have sung a little bit in “Burn After Reading” but I don’t remember that.) The subject matter is political (Enron), so there’s that. Also, there’s no indication that Clooney has any thought of appearing or whether he’ll just produce and/or direct. On the other hand, we know he can mime nicely.

One thought. Fellow miming Smoky Mountain Boy John Turturro also took a shot at directing a movie musical with “Romance and Cigarettes.” Tim Blake Nelson, the third member of the trio, is also a film director. Guess it’s only a matter of time.


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Weekend box office: “Megamind” rules the ‘plex, more or less

MegamindThe “divide and conquer” strategy for this weekend pretty much worked as planned. The cuddly supervillain-centric 3D animated comedy with an all-star voice cast from Paramount/Dreamworks “Megamind” underperformed slightly to come in at $47.65 million according to Box Office Mojo. That’s a couple million lower than the numbers bandied about earlier, but actually a few million above the opening of another Dreamworks Animation, “How To Train Your Dragon.” As Anthony D’Alessandro reminds us, that one had strong enough legs to carry it to a major success after an opening that was originally deemed very disappointing.

Next up was the heavily promoted Robert Downey, Jr./Zach Galifianakis vehicle, “Due Date.” The R-rated road comedy earned an estimated $33.5 million for Warner Brothers. It’ll be interesting to see if the lackluster reviews are reflected in less than awesome word of mouth and theatrical legs for the film. Nikki Finke reports that it got a decent B- from Cinemascore, but I remain eternally somewhat skeptical of those surveys.

Robert Downey, Jr. and Zach Galifianakis exchange bon mots in

The #3 film was Tyler Perry’s theatrical adaptation of a very non-Tyler Perry play, “For Colored Girls.” The heavy-duty drama earned true to Mr. Perry’s form with his traditional audience base, and generated an estimate of $20.5 million for Lionsgate. Say what you will about Mr. Perry, an adaptation of an acclaimed poetry-based play earning that kind of cash requires someone with his kind of populist sensibilities and appeal.

In the #4 spot, the age-spanning action-comedy, “RED,” continues to maintain its hold on the box office with an estimate of over $8.85 million for Summit. Last week’s Halloween #1, “Saw 3D,” had the expected big second weekend drop, plus a bit extra. It lost 63.6% for a Week 2 estimate of $8.2 million. “Paranormal Activity 2” is also dropping, but less dramatically (55.8%). It earned an estimated $7.29 million for Paramount in its third week.

Among limited releases, the four theaters showing Danny Boyle’s much discussed James Franco near-one-man-show, “127 Hours,” showed that audiences were willing to pay an arm, if not a leg, to see the fact-based ordeal film and things look promising for a wider release. It endured a spectacular per-screen average of $66,500 for a total of $266,000. Less stratospheric, but still healthy, was the 46 theater debut of the fact-based political ordeal drama, “Fair Game,” featuring Sean Penn and Naomi Watts as Bush-era National Security Council analyst Joe Wilson and his wife, spy Valerie Plame, who was very illegally outed by members of the Bush Administration. (Their defense: it was an accident. Woops.) It earned a per-screen average north of $15,000 and a total of $700,000.



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