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« Take Three: Piper Laurie | Main | Linksplosion »
Sunday
May062012

Hulk Smash Box Office!

Here's one of the very smartest things about The Avengers that I read all weekend and surely a sign as to why it's handily smashed opening weekend box office records with its mighty $200 mil.

Perhaps people like The Avengers so much because it celebrates a triumph of branding. The Hulk reinforces his brand by blending together a sensitive, indie, yet still hunky Mark Ruffalo with a green, childlike, cartoonish embodiment of aggression that smashes things.  Viewing the film is like watching Pepsi chat with McDonalds ironically about the inadequacies of Apple as Facebook dons a blue mask before ripping Nike's hammer away in a fit of pique."
-The Film Doctor

I haven't read this elsewhere but I think it's worth noting that this exact same weekend 10 years ago was also historic. Spider-Man (2002) was our first ever $100+ opening weekend. In ten short years the booty has practically doubled but in Spider-Man's defense they have raised ticket prices radically in that span of time. I liked The Avengers but the only way I'd see it again in theaters is if I can find a matinee 2D screening.

Hulk crush Harry Potter & Batman © Nathaniel Rogers

TOP FIFTEEN 
01 THE AVENGERS new  $200.3 Review
02 THINK LIKE A MAN  $8 (cum $73)
03 HUNGER GAMES  $5.7 Review (cum $380.7... and suddenly looking far less likely to stay the #1 movie of the year)
04 THE LUCKY ONE  $5.5 (cum $47.9)
05 THE PIRATES! $5.4 (cum $18.5)
06 FIVE YEAR ENGAGEMENT  $5.1 (cum $19.2)
07 THE RAVEN  $2.5 (cum $12)
08 SAFE $2.4 (cum. $12.8)
09 CHIMPANZEE $2.3 (cum. $23)
10 THREE STOOGES $1.8  (cum $39.6)

11 CABIN IN THE WOODS $1.5(cum. $38)
12 JOHN CARTER  $1.3 Review (cum $75) 
13 21 JUMP ST  $1 Review (cum $133.9)
14 AMERICAN REUNION  $.8 (cum $55.3)
15 THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL new $.7

What did you see over the weekend? I checked in at the The Bext Exotic Dame-Packed Hotel... which I'll write a little something about soon. If they were going for counterprogramming against The Avengers maybe they should have opened in more theaters? With Hotel's high per screen average and a weak showing for everything but the superheroes (and a strangely resurgent John Carter. What's going on there???), I bet they could have opened in the top ten. Then again, I assume Manhattan's very mobile elderly get out to the movies far more often than their counterparts elsewhere. It seems impossible but we may have been the youngest people in the theater.

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Reader Comments (17)

I noticed the John Carter thing, too. I think they made an incredibly choice to (re-)expand (they doubled their theatre count) and siphon people who drove all the way out to the theatre only to find that Avengers was sold out. And it worked! I've never heard of this before, but, wow, smart!

May 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

I can't help but think in about 5-10 years time, Avengers is going to be thought of like how we see Tim Burton's Batman now...in revisionist terms, good for its time but kinda cheese-ball, with a small dose of "we went crazy for this?", we'll see....

May 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKyle

I read that in some theaters, John Carter and The Avengers are shown as double feature which explains the increase of John Carter gross. Not sure how Disney separates the gross (50-50?); either way, Disney can easily allocate some of the weekend gross to John Carter since The Avengers smash box office anyway. I enjoy Avengers but tbh I am a bit sick of oohh ahh about its box office. I mean, it's impressive but how can it not reach that mark with all the time showing, gazillion theaters, higher ticket price combined with the 3D and Imax 3D. Those are premium ticket prices right there.

May 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDrew

The missus and I caught the same thing $200 million worth of moviegoers saw.

@ Drew - I have not checked my facts here but, at 152 minutes, this is a fairly long film (and exactly the same length as "The Hunger Games"...go figure) and I suspect the longer length cut some showtimes per screen. The theater complex we live closest to tried to make up for it by committing five of its 22 screens (two of them were 3D) to to showing "The Avengers". That is not an option for smaller complexes or non-multiplex theaters. Moreover, the domestic weekend take did not break the existing record by just a little bit. It surpassed Harry Potter's record (less than a year old) of $169.1 million by close to 18%. So I do not think the 200-megabuck total was a foregone conclusion by any means.

May 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarl

Oops - "The Avengers" and "The Hunger Games" clock in at 142 minutes. Maybe I should check my facts first.

As to the "...gazillion theaters..." - "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2" last year actually opened in 24 more theaters than "The Avengers" did this year and made about $30 million less, making the achievement even more extraordinary.

May 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarl

Loved the Avengers and its successes... but I'm much more excited for what it means for Joss Whedon. I'm sure this film would've opened big no matter who directed and wrote it, but the fact that many (MANY) reviews gave credit to Whedon for the monumental and exceedingly well job he did means a lot. If that's the only takeaway from all of this over hype and excess praise then so be it.

Now he is just a bit freer to do all the Shakespearean musical space western horror satire films to his heart desire. With a couple or so Marvel films thrown in of course. So say we all.

May 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

I'm still not seeing it. I just don't care about those heroes.

May 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames T

I'm sure that Whedon's Loki caricature expects us to kneel before Joss. It doesn't suffice that Whedon is getting critical acclaim for his "character arcs" and "rich characterizations" even though no one in his film grows, changes, or develops. No, even his box office numbers have to be praised.
I think I'd show him some respect if his success would be a film like The King's Speech. But turning an over-hyped franchise entry with good-looking stars in interminable action sequences into a box office sensation isn't that much of an achievement these days. To quote Dangerous Liaisons: "It's humiliating if you fail, and commonplace if you succeed."

May 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWilly

I can't help but think in about 5-10 years time, Avengers is going to be thought of like how we see Tim Burton's Batman now...in revisionist terms, good for its time but kinda cheese-ball, with a small dose of "we went crazy for this?", we'll see....

How dare you?

May 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

Thanks for the kind mention, Nathaniel.

May 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterfilmdr

@ Carl,
I think I should be more clear. I totally agree that the gross was not a foregone conclusion. The gross is definitely impressive but I guess I am just not that surprised with the record broken considering the ticket prices . And it's definitely fair to compare the gross with HP2 since they both have 3D. I think reading Nat's post makes me compare it with Spidey 2002 achievement which is more impressive in my eyes.

May 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDrew

it is still the biggest opening: http://boxofficemojo.com/alltime/weekends/?adjust_yr=2012&p=.htm and http://boxofficemojo.com/alltime/weekends/theateravg.htm?page=THTRWAVG&p=.htm

May 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterremy

I ended up catching American Reunion (just opened at the discount theater here!) yesterday because I've been meaning to catch up on it. I enjoyed it and it was nice seeing Tara Reid back on the theatrical screen as well as Jay Harrington (of ABC's ill-fated Better Off Ted). Might go and see A Thousand Words later today at the same theater, because Kerry Washington's in it and she mentioned in an interview it's like Eddie Murphy doing a Charlie Chaplin film!

May 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge P.

Joss Whedon has never done anything that interests me, and this is no exception.

May 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

I wish we looked at movies in terms of tickets sold, instead of money made, like we do with music. Then there wouldn't have to be all these caveats and inflation adjustments, just - how many people actually went to watch the movie?

May 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

Jessica -- that would be a more interesting way to look at it. But everyone I talked to today (well, almost everyone) had gone to see it this weekend. And I heard people talking about it in the street too.

May 7, 2012 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Oh I'm sure a lot of people are seeing The Avengers. But I mean all movies, not just this movie.

May 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJessica
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