The Dark Knight
The Avengers has surpassed The Dark Knight at the domestic box office, to become the no. 3 biggest hit ever in the U.S. and Canada. Or has it?
Joss Whedon's The Avengers added $5.65 million at the North American box office on Friday, June 1, according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo. That raised the action flick's domestic cume to $538.11m. Directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Christian Bale, The Dark Knight cumed at $533.3 million in 2008.
But which movie has sold more tickets, The Avengers or The Dark Knight? Looking at both films' totals, the obvious answer is The Dark Knight, which was shown at fewer IMAX houses, was not in 3D, and was released in 2008. In fact, even while ignoring IMAX and 3D surcharges, The Dark Knight's adjusted domestic box office take — to better reflect the actual number of tickets sold — would be $580m. In other words, Nolan's second Batman film remains about $40m ahead of The Avengers.
Day 29 Box Office: The Avengers vs. The Dark Knight
Now, The Avengers' hasn't ended its run. So, a fairer comparison would be The Avengers on Day 29 (June 1, 2012) vs. The Dark Knight on Day 29 (August 15, 2008). Here it goes: on Day 29, The Avengers' cume stood at $538.11m; The Dark Knight's was $459.64m. Adjusted for inflation, The Dark Knight's take goes up to approximately $501m.
Now, if 3D screens accounted for 50 percent of the Avengers' domestic box office (the percentage was 52 percent on the first weekend), then after deducting the 3D surcharges (calculated at 30 percent above the cost of a 2D movie), The Avengers' box office take goes down to approximately $471 million — or about $30m below The Dark Knight's.
Even if only one third of The Avengers' gross originated from 3D houses, the Marvel actioner would still be behind The Dark Knight's ticket sales: approx. $493 million vs. The Dark Knight's aforementioned $501 million during the same period.
And finally, bear in mind that The Dark Knight was screened at only 94 (costlier) IMAX houses, while The Avengers was screened at 275. The ratio is almost 1 to 3.
International Box Office: The Avengers the indisputable champion
Internationally, however, The Avengers is indisputably doing much better than The Dark Knight. The Avengers' international gross currently stands at $793.3m; The Dark Knight cumed at $468.57m.
Up to May 27, The Avengers' top five international markets were the U.K. ($73.48 million), China ($70.1 million as of May 21), Mexico ($60.27 million), Brazil ($58.87 million), and South Korea ($51.51m).
The Avengers features Captain America: The First Avenger's Chris Evans as Captain America, two-time Oscar nominee Robert Downey Jr (Chaplin, Tropic Thunder) as Iron Man, Oscar nominee Mark Ruffalo (The Kids Are All Right) as the Incredible Hulk, Match Point's Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow, and Snow White and the Huntsman's Chris Hemsworth as Thor.
Also: two-time Oscar nominee Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker, The Town) as Hawkeye, The Deep Blue Sea's Tom Hiddleston as Loki, The Storm Awaits' Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill, Pulp Fiction Oscar nominee Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Oscar winner Gwyneth Paltrow (Shakespeare in Love) as Pepper Potts, and Much Ado About Nothing's Clark Gregg as agent Phil Coulson.
And finally: Stellan Skarsgård, Powers Boothe, Alexis Denisof, veteran Jenny Agutter (Walkabout / Logan's Run), and Deep End director / Roman Polanski's Knife in the Water screenwriter Jerzy Skolimowski, in addition to the voices of Paul Bettany and Lou Ferrigno.
In addition to Christian Bale, The Dark Knight featured eventual Best Supporting Actor Oscar winner Heath Ledger, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Aaron Eckhart, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Cillian Murphy, Monique Gabriela Curnen, and Eric Roberts.
Chris Evans as Captain America / Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man / The Avengers picture: Zade Rosenthal / Walt Disney Studios.
The Dark Knight picture: Stephen Vaughan / Warner Bros.