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Marvel 'Avengers' Box Office: Ahead of 'The Dark Knight' & 'Star Wars'?

Marvel 'The Avengers' movie vs. 'The Dark Knight'

The Avengers movie Scarlett Johansson Black WidowJune 29 '12 update: Starring Scarlett Johansson (photo, as Black Widow), Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr, Tom Hiddleston, and Jeremy Renner, Joss Whedon's The Avengers movie has officially surpassed Titanic's original box office take.

Back in 1998, James Cameron's romantic epic starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Gloria Stuart, and a gigantic iceberg cumed at $600.78 million. After adding $838,000 on Wednesday, The Avengers' cume stands at $601.21 million. And just last week, Whedon's actioner also surpassed the inflation-adjusted take of Christopher Nolan / Christian Bale / Heath Ledger's The Dark Knight.

Titanic, of course, continues well ahead of the Avengers movie in number of tickets sold – even without taking into account its recent 3D rerelease. When factoring in inflation, and 3D and IMAX surcharges, the original Titanic to The Avengers ratio in terms of ticket sales is approximately 2 to 1.

But what about The Dark Knight, released in July a mere four years ago? Well, Nolan's second Batman movie ended its domestic run with $533.3 million / $588 million adjusted. So, does that mean The Avengers sold more tickets than The Dark Knight? Not really.

Ticket sales: The Avengers movie vs. The Dark Knight

The true measure of a film's success at the box office is not its gross, which can be inflated by economic factors and assorted surcharges, but the number of tickets it has sold in relation to the population of the region/country in question. Both The Avengers and The Dark Knight are phenomenally successful movies. But again, which one sold more tickets in North America?

Until early June, The Dark Knight was the obvious answer. After all, Nolan's Batman Begins sequel was screened at fewer IMAX houses and was not in 3D. Adjusted for inflation, The Avengers was about $40 million behind The Dark Knight.

Now that The Avengers has added more than $60 million to its domestic box office gross, things have changed a bit.

As mentioned above, The Dark Knight's adjusted domestic take – to better reflect the number of tickets sold – would be approximately $588 million today*. In other words, Nolan's Batman movie would thus be about $13 million behind The Avengers.

However, 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 33 percent above the cost of a 2D movie), The Avengers' gross plunges to approximately $525 million – or about $63 million below The Dark Knight's adjusted cume.

Even if only one third of The Avengers' gross originated from 3D houses, the Disney / Marvel release would still be behind The Dark Knight: approx. $550 million vs. TDK's aforementioned $588 million.

Even if 3D represented only one quarter of The Avengers' gross, it would still trail The Dark Knight in ticket sales: approx. $572 million worth vs. TDK's $588 million.

And finally, remember 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.

Ticket sales: Can The Avengers surpass The Dark Knight?

Now, will the Avengers movie eventually surpass The Dark Knight's ticket sales at the domestic box office? The answer is: it depends.

In the unlikely scenario that only 25 percent of The Avengers' box office gross came from 3D venues (and while ignoring IMAX surcharges), The Avengers could theoretically surpass The Dark Knight, as it needs to earn only an extra $18 million or so to achieve that feat. Else, especially considering the advent of The Amazing Spider-Man next week, the answer is: “not likely” – unless Disney rereleases their Avengers movie. (Note: The Dark Knight hasn't been rereleased.)

Besides Christian Bale and Best Supporting Actor Oscar winner Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight features Maggie Gyllenhaal, Aaron Eckhart, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, and Michael Caine.

Directed by Christopher Nolan, and starring Bale, Anne Hathaway, Marion Cotillard, Tom Hardy, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, The Dark Knight Rises opens July 20.

* An estimated $7.92 movie-ticket-price average in North America in the first quarter of 2012, as per the National Association of Theater Owners. Remember that The Avengers was released in the second quarter; the average cost of a movie ticket during that period will likely be higher thanks to a flood of 3D releases.

Scarlett Johansson / The Avengers movie picture: Zade Rosenthal / Disney.

June 27

The Avengers movie box office Chris Evans Captain America
The Avengers movie box office milestone: Chris Evans, Captain America

The Avengers movie box office: $600 million mark. Directed by Joss Whedon, and starring Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, and Tom Hiddleston, The Avengers movie added $989,546 at the North American box office on Tuesday, June 26, according to Boxofficemojo.com. That raised the Disney / Marvel action flick's domestic cume to $600.37 million on its 54th day out.

The Avengers movie vs. Titanic, Avatar

Ignoring minor inconveniences such as inflation, The Avengers has thus become the third movie ever to pass the $600 million mark at the domestic box office. Its predecessors are both James Cameron-directed films: Titanic (1997), starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, and Avatar (2009), with Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, and Sigourney Weaver.

Originally, Titanic cumed at $600.78 million. Another $58 million were added this year, as Titanic 3D came out in April. The 1997 Best Picture Oscar winner has to date amassed a combined total of $658.67 million in the U.S. and Canada.

Avatar passed the $600 million mark on its 47th day out – or a week before The Avengers. Adjusting for inflation, Avatar passed that milestone on Day 43. James Cameron's ecologically conscious sci-fier eventually cumed at $749.76 million, in addition to $10.74 million from an unsuccessful rerelease in summer 2010. Avatar's grand total currently stands at $760.5 million.

There's no chance The Avengers will reach that high. In fact, it's unlikely the all-star Marvel movie will be able to surpass even Titanic's more modest (and non-adjusted) grand total.

International Box Office: The Avengers movie no. 4

Internationally, The Avengers has grossed $837.9 million, thus trailing Avatar's $2.021 billion, Titanic's 1.526 billion, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2's $947.1 million. (Note: chiefly thanks to China – and despite the censoring of Kate Winslet's breasts in that market – Titanic 3D has been particularly successful overseas, where Cameron's movie has raked in $285.2 million.)

Up to June 24, The Avengers' top five international markets were China ($84.1 million as of May 21), the U.K. ($80.11 million), Brazil ($62.84 million), Mexico ($57.2 million), and South Korea ($50.68 million).*

Note: Box Office Mojo's figures for The Avengers in Mexico and South Korea have bounced around some. It's unclear why that happened.

Chris Evans Captain America / The Avengers movie picture: Zade Rosenthal / Walt Disney Studios.

Titanic movie Kate Winslet Young RoseTitanic movie box office to be surpassed by The Avengers. (Image: Titanic movie Kate Winslet as Young Rose.) Some time today, James Cameron's Titanic, the blockbuster parable about romance in time of global warming (and its dire consequences), is going to be surpassed at the domestic box office by none other than a bunch of Marvel superheroes donning Mardi Gras costumes. Step aside, Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet (and Gloria Stuart, too)!

Directed by Joss Whedon, and starring Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Chris Evans as Captain America, Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, Mark Ruffalo as the Incredible Hulk, Jeremy Renner and Hawkeye, and Tom Hiddleston as (the villainous) Loki, Disney / Marvel's The Avengers movie is about to exceed the original box office gross Titanic amassed 14 years ago in the U.S. and Canada.

Box office: The Avengers vs Titanic movie

As of Tuesday, June 26, The Avengers' domestic box office total stood at $600.37 million. Titanic's original cume was $600.78 million. Considering that The Avengers has been earning close to $1 million per day, it's just about impossible for the Marvel actioner not to surpass Titanic today.

Of course, if Titanic's rerelease is factored in, James Cameron's iceberg movie remains well ahead of The Avengers. The 1997 Best Picture Oscar winner's current domestic total is $658.67 million. It's unlikely that The Avengers will reach that far.

If inflation is factored in as well, then Titanic – in terms of ticket sales – remain eons ahead of The Avengers: $1.074 billion versus The Avengers' $600.37 million. And finally, if 3D and IMAX surcharges are taken into account, then The Avengers falls even further behind. In fact, Titanic likely sold nearly twice as many tickets as The Avengers – even without taking Titanic 3D's $57.88 million into account.

The Avengers' Wednesday box office take will be made available tomorrow.

Titanic movie cast

In addition to Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, and Gloria Stuart, Titanic features Billy Zane, Oscar winner Kathy Bates (Misery), Bill Paxton, Frances Fisher, Victor Garber, Suzy Amis (James Cameron's wife since 2000), Mark Lindsay Chapman, Jonathan Hyde, Danny Nucci, Ioan Gruffudd, and veterans Bernard Hill and David Warner.

Kate Winslet as Old Rose picture / Titanic movie: 20th Century Fox.

June 24

Brave movie Pixar
Brave movie: Pixar box office hit

Brave movie: Pixar's 3D animated feature opens strongly. Featuring the voices of Kelly Macdonald, Emma Thompson, and Billy Connolly, among others, Pixar's Brave movie easily topped the North American box office this weekend (June 22-24). In fact, Brave's estimated $66.73 million – at 4,164 theaters, including 2,790 3D-equipped locations – was more than the total gross of the next five runners-up combined (Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Prometheus, Rock of Ages, Snow White and the Huntsman).

Brave thus marked the 13th consecutive first-place opening weekend for a Pixar release at the U.S. and Canada box office. Additionally, Brave far surpassed expectations, which had the animated feature scoring around $55 million on its debut weekend. (Though the 3D movie ended up earning about $3 million less than early Friday box office estimates seemed to indicate.)

Pixar box office: Brave vs. Cars 2, Toy Story 3, Up, Finding Nemo

For comparison's sake: last year, Pixar's Cars 2 opened with $66.13 million at 4,115 sites; Toy Story 3 debuted with $110.3 million at 4,028 locations in 2010; Up with $68.1 million at 3,766 locations in 2009 (about $72 million today); and Finding Nemo (not in 3D) with $70.25 million at 3,374 theaters in 2003 (about $92 million today). Of the aforementioned four titles, Toy Story 3 and Finding Nemo were by far the most successful, selling about as many tickets. (Note: bear in mind that 60 percent of Toy Story 3's first-weekend gross came from 3D houses.)

The tale of the rebellious princess Merida, who's both an expert archer and a dead ringer to Rachelle Lefevre's bloodthirsty vampire in Chris Weitz's The Twilight Saga: New Moon, Pixar's Brave has a passable 68 percent approval rating and 6.7/10 average among Rotten Tomatoes' top critics.

Brave, which cost a reported $185 million, was directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman, and “co-directed" by Steve Purcell. The screenplay is credited to Andrews, Purcell, Chapman, and Irene Mecchi. The voice cast also includes Julie Walters and Robbie Coltrane.

Brave picture: Pixar / Disney Enterprises.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter wallpaper movie
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter movie

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter movie flops. Trailing both Disney / Pixar's Brave ($66.73m) and Paramount / DreamWorks Animation's Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted ($20.2 million), 20th Century Fox's Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter pulled in an estimated $16.5 million (including $700,000 from Thursday midnight screenings) at North American theaters this weekend. Tim Burton co-produced and Timur Bekmambetov directed the R-rated 3D thriller.

Starring Benjamin Walker (Clint Eastwood's Flags of Our Fathers, the young Alfred Kinsey in Bill Condon's Kinsey), Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter didn't quite have a stake put through its heart – but it got close. Fox reportedly acquired Bekmambetov's effort for $69 million. There's little chance Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter will manage to reach its budget at the domestic box office, let alone recover it.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter ahead of Rock of Ages, That's My Boy

The silver lining (of sorts) is that, despite the absence of any big-name box office draw, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter at least managed to beat the opening-weekend performance of both Adam Shankman / Tom Cruise's Rock of Ages and Adam Sandler / Andy Samberg's That's My Boy. If studio estimates are accurate, that is.

As for the overseas market, where Abraham Lincoln is hardly an iconic figure (but where 3D movies tend to perform quite well), Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter took in $7.8 million in ten territories, including $3.9 million in Russia / CIS. That's not exactly an auspicious debut for a relatively costly production.

Adapted by Seth Grahame-Smith from his own novel, in addition to Benjamin Walker in the title role Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter features Mamma Mia!'s Dominic Cooper, The Hurt Locker's Anthony Mackie, Rufus Sewell, Marton Csokas, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Mary Todd Lincoln. The film has a poor 27 percent approval rating and 4.3/10 average among Rotten Tomatoes' top critics.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World opens weakly

Another wide release, Focus Features' Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, opened to even more disappointing figures than Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

Starring Steve Carell and Keira Knightley, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World earned $3.83 million at 1,618 locations, or a paltry $2,361 per site. (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter's 3D-assistted per-theater average was $5,309.)

Written and directed by Lorene Scafaria, the Seeking a Friend for the End of the World cast also includes Melanie Lynskey, Adam Brody, Nancy Carell, William Petersen, Martin Sheen, Patton Oswalt, and two-time Oscar nominee Melinda Dillon (Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Absence of Malice).

Benjamin Walker / Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter movie picture: Stephen Vaughan / 20th Century Fox.

June 23 early a.m.

Brave Pixar movieBrave: Pixar movie box office hit. Brave will easily top the North American box office this weekend. How easily? Well, don't be too surprised if Brave ends up grossing more than the next half-dozen runners-up combined.

Voiced by Kelly Macdonald, Emma Thompson, Julie Walters, Craig Ferguson, Robbie Coltrane, Kevin McKidd, and Billy Connolly, among others, Brave is expected to collect $70 million by Sunday evening, after estimated Friday earnings of $25 million at 4,164 theaters (including 2,790 3D-equipped locations). Brave will thus mark Pixar's 13th first-place opening weekend at the U.S. and Canada box office. It'll also far surpass expectations, which had the girl-on-top movie scoring around $55 million over the weekend.

Pixar box office: Brave vs. Toy Story 3, Up, Finding Nemo

For comparison's sake: Pixar's Toy Story 3 opened $110.3 million at 4,028 locations in 2010; Up with $68.1 million at 3,766 locations in 2009 (about $72 million today); and Finding Nemo (not in 3D) with $70.25 million at 3,374 theaters in 2003 (about $92 million today).

The source for this weekend's estimates is Deadline.com, which adds that Brave has received an “A” CinemaScore from audiences. The tale of the rebellious princess Merida, who's both an expert archer and a dead ringer to Rachelle Lefevre's bloodthirsty vampire in The Twilight Saga: New Moon, Brave was received less enthusiastically by North American film reviewers. The animated feature has a passable 68 percent approval rating and 6.7/10 average among Rotten Tomatoes' top critics.

Brave likely critic-proof

Critics didn't matter when it came to either The Lorax (48 percent approval rating, top critics) or Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted (58 percent approval rating, top critics). And what they think of Brave won't matter to parents / guardians and the like. What matters is the Pixar / Disney brand.

That's good for the studio. Considering the animated feature's exorbitant cost – a reported $185 million – Brave will need all the word of mouth it can get. It'll also need to perform extremely well overseas, something that shouldn't be a problem. And then, of course, there are all those ancillary revenues (DVD/Blu-ray, VOD, toys, and who knows what else Disney's marketing staff will come up with).

Brave was directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman, and “co-directed" by Steve Purcell. The screenplay is credited to Andrews, Purcell, Chapman, and Irene Mecchi.

Brave picture: Pixar / Disney Enterprises.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter movie Benjamin Walker
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter movie: Benjamin Walker as Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter movie box office disappoints: Trailing both Disney / Pixar's Brave and DreamWorks Animation's Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, 20th Century Fox's R-rated 3D thriller Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is expected to score at most $17.5 million over the weekend, after collecting on Friday an estimated $6.5 million (including $700,000 from midnight screenings).

Although the $17.5 million figure would be above the box office performance of both Adam Shankman / Tom Cruise's Rock of Ages and Adam Sandler / Andy Samberg's That's My Boy, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter will hardly have what one would call an auspicious debut for a movie whose acquisition cost is pegged at $69 million.

Produced by Tim Burton, directed by Timur Bekmambetov, and adapted by Seth Grahame-Smith from his own novel, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter features Benjamin Walker in the title role, in addition to Dominic Cooper, Anthony Mackie, Rufus Sewell, Marton Csokas, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Mary Todd Lincoln.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter movie poorly received

As per Deadline, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter earned a mediocre “C+” CinemaScore. Not to mention a lowly 27 percent approval rating and 4.3/10 average from Rotten Tomatoes' top critics.

Overseas prospects for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter are iffy. The 3D factor should help, but the film lacks a big-name box office draw and Abraham Lincoln, though well known, is hardly an iconic figure outside the United States.

Also via Deadline, Focus Features' Seeking a Friend for the End of the World may bring in a disappointingly modest $4.5 million this weekend, after earning an estimated $1.2 million at 1,618 locations on Friday. At Box Office Mojo, for instance, Ray Subers had been expecting an opening weekend at around $8 million.

Written and directed by Lorene Scafaria, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World stars Steve Carell and Keira Knightley. The supporting cast includes Melanie Lynskey, Adam Brody, Nancy Carell, William Petersen, Martin Sheen, Patton Oswalt, and two-time Oscar nominee Melinda Dillon (Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Absence of Malice).

Benjamin Walker / Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter movie picture: Alan Markfield / 20th Century Fox

The Dark Knight
The Dark Knight

June 2 afternoon

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. That raised the action flick's domestic cume to $538.11 million. 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 $580 million. In other words, Nolan's second Batman film remains about $40 millionahead 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 (Aug. 15, 2008). Here it goes: on Day 29, The Avengers' cume stood at $538.11m; The Dark Knight's was $459.64 million. Adjusted for inflation, The Dark Knight's take goes up to approximately $501 million.

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 $30 million 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 $468.57 million.

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.

Directed by Christopher Nolan, and starring Bale, Anne Hathaway, Marion Cotillard, Tom Hardy, Liam Neeson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Gary Oldman, The Dark Knight Rises opens July 20.

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.

June 2 early morning

The Avengers Scarlett Johansson Joss Whedon
The Avengers: Scarlett Johansson, Joss Whedon

At no. 2 on Friday, Men in Black 3 took in an estimated $8.5 million and is expected to gross $29 million for the weekend at the North American box office. A cume of $112 million after 10 days – including a major holiday – for a movie that cost anywhere between $225m-$300 million is not good news at all for distributor Sony Pictures. As was the case with the two Taylor Kitsch domestic bombs, John Carter and Battleship, what will save – at least to a certain extent – Men in Black 3 is the international market. Also in the film's cast: Emma Thompson and Josh Brolin. (See also Box Office: Snow White movie surpasses expectations.)

At no. 3 according to early, rough estimates found at Deadline.com, The Avengers raked in an estimated $6 million on Friday, for a weekend gross of $19 million. That means The Avengers ($532.46 million as of Thursday) surpassed Christopher Nolan / Christian Bale's The Dark Knight ($533.34m) at the domestic box office sometime on Friday – that is, if you choose to ignore inflation. And when it comes to ticket sales, The Avengers has surpassed The Dark Knight in case you also choose to ignore box-office-boosting 3D surcharges. More on that on Saturday, after official Friday estimates are released.

Directed by Joss Whedon, The Avengers stars Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, and Jeremy Renner.

Rounding out the top six at the North American box office on Friday were Cameron Diaz / Jennifer Lopez's What to Expect When You're Expecting with $1.6 million (weekend: $4.8 million), Sacha Baron Cohen's The Dictator with $1.5 million (weekend $5 million), and Battleship with $1.4 million (weekend: $4.9m). Curiously, Lionsgate's What to Expect When You're Expecting is holding up slightly better than Universal's much more expensive Battleship, which was targeted to young males, considered by the studios to be their most important demographic group.

The Avengers picture: Zade Rosenthal / Walt Disney Studios.

The Avengers Chris Hemsworth Thor Chris Evans Captain America
The Avengers box office: Have Chris Hemsworth as Thor & Chris Evans as Captain America beaten Batman & Darth Vader?

May 22, '12, update: With a cume of $463.35 million after 18 days, Joss Whedon's The Avengers has surpassed George Lucas' Star Wars ($460.99m) at the domestic box office, thus officially becoming the fifth biggest blockbuster in history. By next weekend, The Avengers should surpass Lucas' Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace ($474.54m) to become the fourth biggest domestic blockbuster in history.

Impressive? Of course. Any way you look at it, The Avengers' box office performance, whether in North America or abroad, has been phenomenal. The Disney / Marvel actioner has surpassed the expectations of most – if not all – prognosticators.

Now, having said that, The Avengers is not a box office phenomenon on a par with Star Wars. Not even close.

Studio/media spin and p.r. b.s. aside, the true barometer of a movie's success is how many tickets it has sold, especially in relation to the population at the time, in case we're comparing movies released decades apart. That's it. All else is spin and obfuscation.

Starring Mark Hamil, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford, back in 1977 Star Wars took in $307.26 million – or the equivalent of approximately $1.08 billion in 2012 dollars. This, without the box-office-boosting 3D/IMAX surcharges that have greatly inflated The Avengers' box office figures.

As mentioned in my The Avengers vs. The Dark Knight post (see further below), 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 (estimated at 30 percent above the cost of a 2D movie), The Avengers' box office take would go down to approximately $405 million.

Even if only one third of The Avengers' gross originated from 3D theaters, the Marvel sci-fier / actioner's gross would be approx. $424 million. Once again, the “3D-deducted” figure would more closely reflect the actual number of tickets sold. In the case of The Avengers, that's about 40 percent of what Star Wars earned (adjusted for inflation) 35 years ago.

Sure, the movie world was different then. There were no DVDs, no VOD, no Internet, etc. But then again, movies didn't open at 4,500 locations. Not to mention the fact that in 1977 there were about 100 million fewer people living in the United States and Canada. Also, bear in mind that DVD, VOD, and Internet or not, in recent years moviegoing attendance has gone up in a number of countries (e.g., France).

'The Avengers': 'The Dark Knight' next in line

For the record, the other three movies that will remain ahead of The Avengers a week from now are Christopher Nolan / Christian Bale's The Dark Knight (2008), and two directed by James Cameron: Titanic (1997), starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, and Avatar (2009), starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, and Sigourney Weaver.

In all likelihood, The Avengers will eventually surpass (the non-adjusted) The Dark Knight to land – and remain – in third place until the end of its run. At this stage, neither Titanic nor Avatar has their positions threatened.

The Avengers stars 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, Vicky Cristina Barcelona'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, War Horse's Tom Hiddleston as Loki, The Storm Awaits' Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill, Oscar nominee Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction) 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, plus the voices of Paul Bettany and Lou Ferrigno.

Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Chris Evans (Captain America) / The Avengers picture: Zade Rosenthal / Walt Disney Studios.

May 21

The Avengers Chris Evans Robert Downey Jr
The Avengers: Chris Evans / Captain America, Robert Downey Jr / Tony Stark / Iron Man

The Avengers easily topped the North American box office this past weekend, grossing $55.64 million according to box office actuals found at Box Office Mojo. At a distant second place with $25.53 million was Battleship, a $209 million Universal release that has turned out to be a major bomb domestically.

On Sunday, The Avengers passed the $450 million mark in North America. It is the fastest movie to reach that milestone: 17 days. At no. 2, Christopher Nolan / Christian Bale's The Dark Knight reached $450 million after 27 days. (Adjusted for inflation, The Dark Knight reached that milestone on Day 21.)

'The Avengers' vs. 'The Dark Knight': Ticket Sales

Now, which movie has sold more tickets, The Avengers or The Dark Knight? On Day 17, The Avengers' cume stands at $457.66m; The Dark Knight's was $393.75 million. Adjusted for inflation, The Dark Knight's take goes up to approximately $429 million.

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 $400 million – or well behind The Dark Knight's.

Even if only one third of The Avengers' gross originated from 3D houses, the Marvel sci-fier / actioner would still be behind The Dark Knight in terms of ticket sales: approx. $419 million vs. The Dark Knight's aforementioned $429 million during the same period.

Internationally, however, The Avengers is doing much better than The Dark Knight. The Avengers' international gross currently stands at $723.3 million. The Dark Knight cumed at $468.57 million.

To date, The Avengers' top five international markets are the U.K. ($73 million), China ($70.1 million), Mexico ($57.1 million), Brazil ($53.3 million), and South Korea ($48m).

Directed by Joss Whedon, 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.

Chris Evans as Captain America / Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man / The Avengers picture: Zade Rosenthal / Walt Disney Studios.

May 11

The Avengers Chris Evans Captain America'The Avengers': Chris Evans as Captain America in mammoth box office hit.

'The Avengers' breaks 'The Dark Knight,' 'Avatar' box office record

May 13, '12, update: The all-star Marvel superhero flick The Avengers has indeed broken another box office record this weekend (May 11–13, '12) in North America.

And that's not all. In case studio estimates are accurate, Joss Whedon's super-hit has passed the $1 billion milestone worldwide – after 19 days out.

At 4,349 theaters in the U.S. and Canada, The Avengers collected an estimated $103.2 million, down a relatively modest 50 percent compared to the previous, record-breaking weekend – which also included midnight screenings.

That's the biggest “second weekend” gross ever, far surpassing the take of the James Cameron-Sam Worthington sci-fi/actioner Avatar (2009) and the Christopher Nolan-Christian Bale Batman movie The Dark Knight (2008), which brought in, respectively, $75.61 million (about the same in 2012 dollars) and $75.16 million (approx. $82 million today) according to Box Office Mojo.

Even taking 3D and IMAX surcharges into account, The Avengers would still remain quite a bit ahead of the inflation-adjusted, modestly IMAX'ed (94 screens on the first weekend) 2D The Dark Knight.

$300 million domestic milestone: Ahead or behind 'The Dark Knight'?

Additionally, with a cume of $342 million The Avengers passed the $300 million milestone at the domestic box office on Saturday – its ninth day out, thus officially surpassing The Dark Knight's current ten-day record for reaching $300 million in the U.S. and Canada.

Minor detail: Movie inflation plays a key role here. The Dark Knight's inflation-adjusted take on Day 9 would be approx. $316 million, and if 3D surcharges are taken into account, The Dark Knight quite likely sold more tickets: the aforementioned inflation-adjusted $316 million vs. The Avengers' 3D-surcharge-deducted $299 million* on Day 9.

* Guesstimate based on reports that The Avengers earned 52 percent of its first weekend's box office take from 3D showings. The percentage may have been different on the film's second weekend. Also, 3D surcharges estimated at an additional 30 percent.

'The Avengers' $1 billion worldwide?

As for The Avengers having reached $1 billion at the worldwide box office, well, it all depends on whether or not Disney's estimates are accurate. The Avengers' domestic total is estimated at $373.18 million; its international cume stands at an estimated $628.9 million after earnings of $95.4 million this weekend. Worldwide total: $1.002.8 billion.

So, it's certainly possible that the $1 billion mark has been reached, especially considering that Disney's domestic estimates were too low last weekend.

Either way, The Avengers is undeniably one of the biggest global blockbusters ever.

Dark Shadows Johnny Depp saved like 'The Tourist'?'Dark Shadows' with Johnny Depp: To be saved like 'The Tourist'?

'Dark Shadows' is a domestic flop: Will it be ultimately saved like 'The Tourist'?

May 12, '12, update: Dark Shadows isn't about to break any box office records. The latest Tim Burton-Johnny Depp collaboration – also featuring Michelle Pfeiffer and Chloë Grace Moretz – opened with a disappointing $9.72 million (including $550,000 from Thursday midnight screenings) at 3,755 North American locations.

Dark Shadows is expected to finish its first domestic weekend with $27-28 million – or less than the amount ($29.1 million) The Avengers earned on its second Friday out.

Dark Shadows distributor Warner Bros. had been expecting at the very least a $35 million opening weekend. Burton and Depp's previous collaboration, Alice in Wonderland, debuted with $116 million in March 2010. Making matters worse for Dark Shadows (and Warner Bros.): as per Deadline.com, the film's budget is pegged at $150-175 million, not including marketing and distribution expenses.

Unless the international market comes to the rescue – a possibility, as Johnny Depp is a major box office draw overseas – Dark Shadows may turn out to be one of the year's biggest bombs.

But then again, it may turn out to be another The Tourist: lambasted by critics in North America, the Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck-directed spy caper starring Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie raked in a mere $67.63 million in the U.S. and Canada, but went on to earn $210.71 million internationally.

Zac Efron romantic drama passes $50 million mark

According to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo, rounding out the top five movies in North America on Friday were:

  • Think Like a Man with $1.57 million; $6.5 million weekend estimate.
    Cast: Michael Ealy. Jerry Ferrara.
  • The Lucky One with $1.28 million; $4.1 million weekend.
    Cast: Zac Efron. Taylor Schilling.
  • The Hunger Games with $1.2 million; $4.3 million weekend.
    Cast: Jennifer Lawrence. Josh Hutcherson. Liam Hemsworth. Woody Harrelson. Donald Sutherland.

The Lucky One has thus passed the $50 million mark on Day 22.

Rounding out the Top Twelve on Friday were the following:

  • The Five-Year Engagement with $951,000.
    Cast: Jason Segel. Emily Blunt.
  • The Pirates! Band of Misfits with $740,000.
    Voice Cast: Hugh Grant.
  • The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel with $1.73 million at only 178 locations.
    Cast: Judi Dench. Maggie Smith. Dev Patel. Bill Nighy. Tom Wilkinson. Celia Imrie.
  • Girl in Progress with $409,000. The Lionsgate release scored a meager $1,270 average at 322 theaters.
    Cast: Eva Mendes.
  • The Raven with $401,000.
    Cast: John Cusack.
  • The documentary Chimpanzee with $387,000.
  • Safe with $382,000.
    Cast: Jason Statham.
The Avengers $1 billion worldwide?'The Avengers' to reach $1 billion worldwide?

'The Avengers' to reach $1 billion worldwide?

May 11, '12: The Avengers to reach $1 billion this weekend (May 11–13, '12)? That's certainly a possibility, depending on how steep the Marvel superhero movie will drop at the global box office. As of Thursday, May 10, The Avengers' worldwide gross stood at $803.31 million: $533.3 million internationally and $270.01 million domestic. It needs $196.69 million to reach $1 billion.

This weekend, The Avengers is expected to collect anywhere between $80-98 million at the North American box office. If these predictions are correct, the action flick will need to rake in close to $100 million at the international box office.

That's not impossible, but it would mean a quite modest 35 percent drop-off rate: last weekend, The Avengers' earned an estimated $157.4 million overseas, partly because it opened in two major markets, China ($17.4 million) and Russia ($17.9 million).

Japan is the only major market left. The Avengers opens there in August.

'The Avengers' among top 15 movies ever?

The Avengers is currently no. 32 on Box Office Mojo's all-time worldwide chart (not adjusted for inflation or currency fluctuations), between Shrek the Third ($799 million) and the juvenile Roland Emmerich sci-fier Independence Day ($817.4 million), starring Will Smith and Bill Pullman.

By Sunday evening, The Avengers will surely be among the top 15 movies, somewhere near the Chris Columbus-Daniel Radcliffe fantasy Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone ($974.8 million) and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End ($963.4 million), toplining Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom.

In terms of actual ticket sales, remember that unlike The Avengers, most movies on the chart didn't have the advantage of box-office-boosting surcharges from 3D and widespread IMAX screenings.

'The Avengers': Propelled by the International Market

As per Box Office Mojo, The Avengers' biggest international territories to date are:

  • The United Kingdom ($54 million).
  • Mexico ($40.7 million).
  • Brazil ($33.9 million).
  • Australia ($33.2 million).
  • South Korea ($31.8 million).

Note: Figures for China and Russia aren't up to date.

Without the international market, a mega-budget movie like The Avengers would never get made.

Mega-profits for mega-budget production?

Distributed by Walt Disney Studios (but with former Marvel distributor Paramount getting a cut of the grosses), The Avengers cost a reported $220 million, not including worldwide marketing and distribution expenses. The total price tag for the film could easily reach $350 million or higher.

As a rule of thumb, studios earn about 50-55 percent of the domestic box office gross, and 40 percent of international grosses. That translates into approximately $348 million net worldwide for The Avengers to date.

But then there is income from VOD, DVD/Blu-ray, Cable/TV rights, tie-ins, merchandise, games (a console videogame is rumored to be in development), perhaps even a Disneyland ride or two. And that's likely where Disney, Marvel, and Paramount will make most of their money from The Avengers.

Dark Shadows Michelle Pfeiffer Joan Bennett role'Dark Shadows' with Michelle Pfeiffer in the old Joan Bennett role.

'Dark Shadows' gloomy midnight box office

Early May 11, '12: The latest Tim Burton-Johnny Depp joint movie effort, Dark Shadows, is off to a middling start, earning $550,000 at Thursday midnight screenings in North America. Comparing the box office performance of Dark Shadows to those of, say, Jennifer Lawrence's The Hunger Games or Joss Whedon's superhero ensemble The Avengers would be not only cruel but downright unfair.

For although the previous Burton-Depp collaboration Alice in Wonderland was a huge hit, opening with $116 million in March 2010, Burton's campy version of the late '60s Gothic soap opera Dark Shadows has a different sort of appeal.

Deadline reports that based on matinee figures, Dark Shadows is expected to collect $27–$30 million from 3,755 locations over the weekend, or up to 10–20 percent less than the Andrew Stanton-Taylor Kitsch domestic box office disaster John Carter and the low-budget sleeper hit Think Like a Man, both of which collected about $500,000 at midnight screenings and went on to open in the low $30 million range earlier this year.

Dark Shadows currently has a weak 39 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes' top critics. Its average rating is 5.6/10.

'Dark Shadows' cast

In addition to Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins, Dark Shadows features:

Three-time Oscar nominee Michelle Pfeiffer (supporting for Dangerous Liaisons, 1988; lead for The Fabulous Baker Boys, 1989, and Love Field, 1992) as Elizabeth Collins Stoddard.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street actress and two-time Oscar nominee Helena Bonham Carter (lead for The Wings of the Dove, 1997; supporting for The King's Speech, 2010) as Dr. Julia Hoffman.

Chloë Grace Moretz, who was recently cast in the Carrie remake (in the old Sissy Spacek role), as Carolyn Stoddard.

Eva Green as Angelique Bouchard. Jonny Lee Miller as Roger Collins. Bella Heathcote as Victoria Winters. Gulliver McGrath as David Collins. Ray Shirley as Mrs. Johnson

Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominee Jackie Earle Haley (Little Children, 2006) as Willie Loomis.

Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominee Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road, 2008).

Veteran rocker Alice Cooper.

Veteran Dracula Christopher Lee (The Hands of Orlac, The Wicker Man).

'Dark Shadows' TV series

The TV series Dark Shadows featured the following:

  • Jonathan Frid in the Johnny Depp role of the returning vampire Barnabas.
  • Nancy Barrett in the Chloë Grace Moretz role.
  • Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee Grayson Hall (The Night of the Iguana, 1964) in the Helena Bonham Carter role.
  • Veteran Joan Bennett (Little Women, Scarlet Street, Father of the Bride) in the Michelle Pfeiffer role.

'The Avengers' cast

The all-star The Avengers features:

  • Chris Evans (Captain America: The First Avenger) as Captain America.
  • Scarlett Johansson (Vicky Cristina Barcelona) as the Black Widow.
  • Leonardo DiCaprio's Shutter Island costar and Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominee Mark Ruffalo (The Kids Are All Right, 2010) as the Incredible Hulk.
  • Chris Hemsworth (Snow White and the Huntsman) as Thor.
  • Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, and Iron Man 2 actor and two-time Oscar nominee Robert Downey Jr. (lead for Chaplin, 1992; supporting for Tropic Thunder, 2008) as Iron Man.
  • Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol and The Bourne Legacy actor and two-time Oscar nominee Jeremy Renner (lead for The Hurt Locker, 2009; supporting for The Town, 2010) as Hawkeye.
  • Tom Hiddleston (The Deep Blue Sea, War Horse) as Loki.
  • Best Actress Oscar winner Gwyneth Paltrow (Shakespeare in Love, 1998) as Pepper Potts.
  • Clark Gregg (Much Ado About Nothing) as agent Phil Coulson.
  • Cobie Smulders (The Storm Awaits) as Maria Hill.
  • Unthinkable performer and Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominee Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction, 1994) as Nick Fury.
  • Stellan Skarsgård (Mamma Mia!).
  • Powers Boothe (The Emerald Forest).
  • Alexis Denisof (Angel).
  • The voices of Paul Bettany and Lou Ferrigno.
  • Veteran Jenny Agutter (Walkabout, Logan's Run).
  • Deep End director, Roman Polanski's Knife in the Water screenwriter Jerzy Skolimowski.

 

Chris Evans as Captain America in The Avengers: Zade Rosenthal / Marvel / Walt Disney Studios.

Michelle Pfeiffer, Johnny Depp Dark Shadows images: Peter Mountain / Leah Gallo / Warner Bros.

Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Robert Downey Jr., and Jeremy Renner The Avengers image: Marvel / Walt Disney Studios.

May 7

Captain America Chris Evans The Avengers movie
Captain America: Chris Evans, The Avengers movie

Yesterday I wrote that in terms of opening-weekend ticket sales, it was a likely tossup between Joss Whedon / Chris Evans' The Avengers, Christopher Nolan / Christian Bale's The Dark Knight, and, to a slightly lesser extent, Sam Raimi / Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man 3. What a difference 24 hours make.

According to weekend box office actuals, The Avengers earned $207.43 million in North America. That's $7 million above Sunday estimates, which had already made it clear that the Marvel / Disney release had smashed David Yates / Daniel Radcliffe's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2's previous box office record: $169.2 million earned last summer.

The Grand Hotel of superhero movies may also have sold more tickets than any other movie in North American opening-weekend box office history.

Taking inflation into account, The Dark Knight would have earned $172-175 million and Spider-Man 3 $171-$174 million in 2012 dollars, depending on average domestic ticket prices for this second quarter. In other words, still well behind The Avengers' box office take.

Now, which movie sold more tickets? Well, if 3D surcharges are taken into account – 52 percent of The Avengers' grosses came from 3D screenings – and are thus deducted from the total (about 30 percent), The Avengers' box office gross goes down to approximately $181 million. Definitely still ahead of both The Dark Knight and Spider-Man 3. In fact, even when considering IMAX surcharges – The Dark Knight was screened at 94 IMAX theaters vs. The Avengers' 275, which earned an estimated $15 million – Whedon's superhero movie likely sold more tickets.

The only way The Dark Knight could remain ahead of The Avengers is if the average movie ticket cost for the second quarter of 2012 turns out to be quite a bit higher than the first quarter's average. The National Theater Owners Association should release average domestic movie-ticket costs for the April-June quarter some time in July.

Unfortunately, Hollywood studios refuse to come up with (or to divulge) official figures for ticket sales. Really, how else could studios herald a new record-breaking release every year or so? Though, admittedly, in the case of The Avengers this kind of subterfuge may not have been at all necessary.

In addition to The Avengers, The Dark Knight, and Spider-Man 3, also on the inflation adjusted (but not taking IMAX/3D into account) top-ten opening-weekend domestic box office list are Johnny Depp / Orlando Bloom's Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (approx. $164 million), the original Spider-Man ($157 million), Jennifer Lawrence / Liam Hemsworth / Josh Hutcherson's The Hunger Games ($152.5 million), and Kristen Stewart / Robert Pattinson / Taylor Lautner's The Twilight Saga: New Moon ($151 million) and Breaking Dawn - Part 1 ($138 million).

Officially budgeted at $220 million (not including another $100m+ in marketing / distribution expenses), The Avengers features Captain America: The First Avenger's Chris Evans as Captain America, Sherlock Holmes' Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man, The Kids Are All Right's Mark Ruffalo as the Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2's Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow, and Snow White and the Huntsman's Chris Hemsworth as Thor.

Also: The Bourne Legacy's Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, The Deep Blue Sea's Tom Hiddleston as Loki, The Storm Awaits' Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill, Pulp Fiction's Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Shakespeare in Love's Gwyneth Paltrow 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.

Captain America / Chris Evans / The Avengers movie photo: Zade Rosenthal / Walt Disney Studios.

May 6

Joss Whedon The Avengers Chris Hemsworth Thor
The Avengers director Joss Whedon, Chris Hemsworth Thor

The Avengers has broken all opening-weekend box office records in history. Well, maybe not all. But hyperbole aside, The Avengers has broken the official opening-weekend box office record in North America. Apparently, by a wide margin.

According to studio estimates, the Marvel superhero special-effects-laden ensemble will have taken in an estimated $200.3 million before the day is over. Following John Carter, Mars Needs Moms, Cars 2, The Muppets, TRON: Legacy, Secretariat, and other domestic underperformers in the last couple of years, Disney executives must be, to put it mildly, ecstatic.

The previous opening-weekend box office record holder, David Yates / Daniel Radcliffe's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, earned $169.2 million last summer. Both The Avengers and Deathly Hallows 2 have the advantage of box-office-boosting 3D surcharges: 52 percent of The Avengers' gross came from 3D screenings. That surely helped the Joss Whedon-directed actioner to become (as per Box Office Mojo, and not adjusted for inflation) the fastest movie to reach $100m, $150m, and $200 million. That is, of course, if studio estimates are correct. We'll find out for sure on Monday.

The Avengers / The Dark Knight box office tossup?

In terms of box office gross, The Avengers has far surpassed the opening-weekend earnings of Christopher Nolan / Christian Bale's The Dark Knight even when taking inflation into account: The Dark Knight would have earned $172-175 million in 2012 dollars, depending on average domestic ticket prices for this second quarter.

However, things get trickier if we try to figure out which movie sold more tickets – the true measure of a film's success – on its first three days out. If 3D surcharges are taken into account (and are thus deducted from the total, say, about 30 percent), The Avengers' box office gross goes down to approximately $175 million. When one considers IMAX surcharges as well – The Dark Knight was screened at 94 IMAX theaters vs. The Avengers' 275, which earned $15 million – Nolan's movie quite possibly sold more tickets. Perhaps even Sam Raimi / Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man 3 would be ahead of The Avengers, as its adjusted box office gross would land it at $171-$174 million.

All three movies are so close that it's impossible to tell without an actual ticket count whether or not The Avengers is truly the no. 1 opening-weekend movie of all time. The Dark Knight may very well have retained its position at the top. But Hollywood studios refuse to come up with (or to divulge) official figures for ticket sales. Really, how else could studios herald a new record-breaking release every year or so? [See updated article on The Avengers' weekend box office, which far surpassed Sunday estimates.]

Also on the inflation adjusted (but not taking IMAX/3D into account) top-ten opening-weekend box office list are Johnny Depp / Orlando Bloom's Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (approx. $164 million), the original Spider-Man ($157 million), Jennifer Lawrence / Liam Hemsworth / Josh Hutcherson's The Hunger Games ($152.5 million), and Kristen Stewart / Robert Pattinson / Taylor Lautner's The Twilight Saga: New Moon ($151 million) and Breaking Dawn - Part 1 ($138 million).

Officially budgeted at $220 million (not including another $100m+ in marketing / distribution expenses), The Avengers features Captain America: The First Avenger's Chris Evans as Captain America, Sherlock Holmes' Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man, The Kids Are All Right's Mark Ruffalo as the Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2's Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow, and Snow White and the Huntsman's Chris Hemsworth as Thor.

Also: The Bourne Legacy's Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, The Deep Blue Sea's Tom Hiddleston as Loki, The Storm Awaits' Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill, Pulp Fiction's Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Shakespeare in Love's Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts, and Much Ado About Nothing's Clark Gregg as agent Phil Coulson.

And finally: Stellan Skarsgård, Powers Boothe, Alexis Denisof, Jenny Agutter, 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.

While working on the (eventually) Academy Award-nominated Knife in the Water in Poland in the early '60s, could Jerzy Skolimowski have guessed that half a century later he would be featured in one of the biggest worldwide box office hits ever? Start believing in miracles right now.

Joss Whedon / Chris Hemsworth / The Avengers photo: Zade Rosenthal / Walt Disney Studios.

May 5 afternoon

Cobie Smulders The Avengers Maria Hill
Cobie Smulders: Maria Hill, The Avengers

Early estimates had The Avengers' box office grosses pegged at about $70 million in North America on Friday, including $18.7 million from Thursday midnight screenings. Official studio estimates, however, have the superhero movie earning $80.5 million on Friday – the second highest opening-day take ever.

It turns out The Avengers has far surpassed the two Kristen Stewart / Robert Pattinson / Taylor Lautner movies on the top-five list, The Twilight Saga: New Moon ($72.7m) and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 ($71.64m). But David Yates / Daniel Radcliffe's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 remains the undisputed opening-day box office record holder, having grossed $91.07 million on its first day out in summer 2011. (Note that unlike Deathly Hallows 2 and The Avengers, the two Twilight movies did not have the advantage of box-office-boosting 3D surcharges.)

The Avengers did, however, officially break one box office record: best single-day not including midnight screenings. Sam Raimi / Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man 3 was the previous record holder, with $49.8 million in 2007 (or approx. $56.5 million today). The Avengers took in an estimated $61.8 million.

Following The Avengers' early (and apparently inaccurate) Friday estimates, the Joss Whedon-directed movie was expected to gross $160 million over the weekend. Considering that it (semi-) officially (we're still dealing with estimates) opened with $80.5 million on Friday, that could well mean that Deathly Hallows 2's opening-weekend record – $169.18 million – may be shattered. Box Office Mojo's Ray Subers guesstimated that The Avengers should open with $172.5 million – or more.

We'll find out for sure when box office actuals are released on Monday, as studio estimates can be way off. For instance, back in March Gary Ross / Jennifer Lawrence's The Hunger Games earned $2.5 million less than Lionsgate had originally estimated and in spring 2010, another Marvel superhero movie, Jon Favreau's Iron Man 2, grossed $5.5 million less than Paramount had initially claimed.

'The Avengers' ticket sales behind 'The Dark Knight' & 'Twilight' movies

Now, if you apply the true measure of a movie's box office success – ticket sales – on its first day out The Avengers lagged behind a handful of other movies (besides Deathly Hallows 2). The percentage of The Avengers' 3D ticket sales is unclear, but let's say it was a modest 50 percent, adding an average of 30 percent to the film's ticket price. That would bring The Avengers' box office take (to reflect the actual number of tickets sold) down to a little over $70m, placing it behind both New Moon and Breaking Dawn 1, in addition to Christopher Nolan / Christian Bale's The Dark Knight (approx. $73.5 million in 2012 dollars).

Officially budgeted at $220 million (not including another $100m+ in marketing / distribution expenses), The Avengers features Captain America: The First Avenger's Chris Evans as Captain America, Sherlock Holmes' Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man, Shutter Island's Mark Ruffalo as the Incredible Hulk, We Bought a Zoo's Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow, and Snow White and the Huntsman's Chris Hemsworth as Thor.

Also: The Bourne Legacy's Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, The Deep Blue Sea's Tom Hiddleston as Loki, The Storm Awaits' Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill, Pulp Fiction's Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Shakespeare in Love's Gwyneth Paltrow 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.

Cobie Smulders / The Avengers photo: Zade Rosenthal / Walt Disney Studios.

May 5 early morning

Chris Evans Captain America The Avengers
Chris Evans: Captain America, The Avengers

Barring a huge surge on Saturday and Sunday matinees, The Avengers will not be breaking any box office records in North America. Even if one chooses to ignore inflation, the Joss Whedon-directed Marvel / Walt Disney release is expected to remain behind David Yates / Daniel Radcliffe's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 both on opening day Friday and for the weekend as a whole.

The Avengers is expected to collect around $70 million at 4,349 locations on Friday (including $18.7 million from Thursday midnight screenings), according to Deadline.com. If that's correct, The Avengers will land behind not only Deathly Hallows 2 ($91.07 million), but also Chris Weitz's The Twilight Saga: New Moon ($72.7m) and Bill Condon's The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 ($71.64 million), both starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner. Note that unlike Deathly Hallows 2 and The Avengers, the two Twilight movies did not have the advantage of box-office-boosting 3D surcharges. [Update: The Avengers collected an estimated $80.5 million. Working on a follow-up post.]

As per Deadline's sources, The Avengers is expected to gross $160 million over the weekend, behind only Deathly Hallows 2's $169.18 million. Well, that is, if you choose to ignore inflation. Else, The Avengers would be down one or two (or more) slots.

And if you apply the true measure of a movie's box office appeal – ticket sales – The Avengers may fall behind a few other titles as well once 3D/IMAX surcharges are taken into account. I'll write a follow-up post on that once official studio estimates are announced on Saturday.

The Avengers features Captain America: The First Avenger's Chris Evans as Captain America, Sherlock Holmes' Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man, Shutter Island's Mark Ruffalo as the Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2's Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow, and Snow White and the Huntsman's Chris Hemsworth as Thor.

Also: The Bourne Legacy's Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, The Deep Blue Sea's Tom Hiddleston as Loki, The Storm Awaits' Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill, Pulp Fiction's Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Shakespeare in Love's Gwyneth Paltrow 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 other box office news, Think Like a Man earned an estimated $2.6 million at no. 2 on Friday and should reach $8 million by Sunday evening. The comedy features Jerry Ferrara, Michael Ealy, Gabrielle Union, and Taraji P. Henson.

At no. 3, Gary Ross' The Hunger Games added $1.9 million on Friday and is expected to rake in $6.7 million over the weekend. Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth star. (It's kinda curious that both Hemsworth brothers have mega 2012 box office blockbusters.)

Rounding out the top six on Friday were Zac Efron / Taylor Schilling's romantic drama The Lucky One and Jason Segel / Emily Blunt's comedy The Five-Year Engagement, each with $1.8 million. They were followed by the animated Pirates! Band of Misfits with $1.4 million ($5.9 million for the weekend).

Of the three, Pirates! is expected to come out on top when weekend figures are announced (kiddie flicks perform better on the weekend proper). Next should be The Five-Year Engagement and then The Lucky One. None of the three is expected to earn more than $6 million.

Remember, the above figures are early, rough estimates. Official Friday estimates will be announced on Saturday, and weekend estimates on Sunday. Box-office actuals come out on Monday.

Chris Evans / The Avengers photo: Zade Rosenthal / Walt Disney Studios.

May 4

Scarlett Johansson Black Widow The AvengersThe Avengers (Scarlett Johansson photo right) earned an estimated $18.7 million from about 2,500 Thursday midnight screenings in North America. Ignoring inflation and the box-office-boosting effect of 3D/IMAX surcharges – $1.3 million came from 273 IMAX screens – that places The Avengers at no. 8 on the list of biggest domestic midnight debuts.

For comparison's sake: without the assistance of 3D, Gary Ross / Jennifer Lawrence's The Hunger Games opened with $19.7 million at 2,565 locations (including 270 IMAX) in March, while Christopher Nolan / Christian Bale's The Dark Knight took in $18.5 million at 3,040 screenings (including 94 IMAX) in summer 2008.

In fact, in number of midnight ticket sales, The Dark Knight remains ahead of both The Avengers and The Hunger Games — even without taking 3D/IMAX surcharges into account. After all, The Dark Knight's $18.5 million would translate into more than $20 million today.

The biggest midnight debut by far is that of David Yates / Daniel Radcliffe's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, which grossed $43.5 million in July 2011. The last Harry Potter was followed by the three Twilight sequels: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 ($30.3 million), Eclipse ($30.1 million), and New Moon ($26.3 million), all of which star Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner.

Obviously, The Avengers' opening weekend will be huge. How huge is debatable. Box Office Mojo's Ray Subers is expecting $172.5 million, which would place The Avengers as the biggest domestic weekend ever, surpassing Deathly Hallows 2's $169.2 million. Well, that is, if you once again choose to ignore inflation and 3D/IMAX surcharges.

The Avengers passes $300 million at international box office

Internationally, The Avengers has already grossed an estimated $304 million. That's more than Captain America: The First Avenger ($192 million), Iron Man ($267 million), and Thor ($268m) earned during their entire runs overseas.

In addition to North America, where it'll be playing at 4,349 theaters, The Avengers is opening in Russia and China this week as well.

According to the Wall Street Journal, The Avengers' global success may mean a replacement for recently ousted Disney chairman Rich Ross (he officially “resigned”): Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige.

Directed by Joss Whedon, The Avengers features The Iceman's Chris Evans as Captain America, Sherlock Holmes' Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man, The Kids Are All Right's Mark Ruffalo as the Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2's Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow, and Snow White and the Huntsman's Chris Hemsworth as Thor.

Also: The Bourne Legacy's Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, The Deep Blue Sea's Tom Hiddleston as Loki, The Storm Awaits' Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill, Django Unchained's Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Shakespeare in Love's Gwyneth Paltrow 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.

Scarlett Johansson / The Avengers photo: Zade Rosenthal / Walt Disney Studios.

April 29

The Avengers movie Chris Hemsworth Clark Gregg
The Avengers movie: Clark Gregg, Chris Hemsworth

The Avengers' box office gross overseas has broken a number of official records. In 39 territories, the Disney / Marvel release earned an estimated $178.4 million, with much more to come once the action flick opens in Russia, Japan, and China. The Avengers' budget, by the way, is an estimated $220 million. In other words, without the international market, movies like The Avengers would never get made.

According to Disney International, The Avengers had the best opening weekend ever in territories as varied as Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, New Zealand, and The Philippines. The top international market was the United Kingdom ($24.7 million), followed by Australia ($19.7 million), Mexico ($15.9 million), South Korea ($12.9 million), France ($12.7 million), Brazil ($11.3 million), and Italy ($10.4m).

Though at the no. 1 spot this weekend, The Avengers performed more modestly in Spain ($7.3m) and Germany ($6.7m). In both markets, by the way, the biggest 2012 hit to date is not a Hollywood blockbuster – but the French comedy-drama The Intouchables, starring François Cluzet and Omar Sy.

Now, remember to take those “best opening ever” claims with a boulder of salt. When discussing international territories, not only is inflation a factor, but also currency fluctuations as well.

Even so, The Avengers' opening is definitely one of the most cash-generating in history. For comparison's sake: After 18 days and most major territories – excepting China, Mexico, and Brazil – Peter Berg / Taylor Kitsch's Battleship has collected an estimated $170 million internationally. Earlier this year, Gary Ross / Jennifer Lawrence's The Hunger Games opened with $59.5 million in 67 territories. Late last year, Kristen Stewart / Robert Pattinson / Taylor Lautner's The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 opened in 54 territories with $152.9 million.

The Avengers opens May 4 in the United States and Canada. Directed by Joss Whedon, The Avengers features Captain America: The First Avenger's Chris Evans as the red-white-and-blue Captain, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows's Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man, Shutter Island's Mark Ruffalo as the Incredible Hulk, Lost in Translation's Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow, and Red Dawn's Chris Hemsworth as Thor.

Also: The Town's Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, War Horse's Tom Hiddleston as Loki, The Storm Awaits' Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill, Django Unchained's Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Contagion's Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts, and Light Years' Clark Gregg as agent Phil Coulson.

And finally: Stellan Skarsgård, Alexis Denisof, Powers Boothe, 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.

Chris Hemsworth / Clark Gregg / The Avengers photo: Zade Rosenthal / Walt Disney Studios.

Jeremy Renner The Avengers
Jeremy Renner, The Avengers movie

The Avengers' international gross is an estimated $178.4 million. That's officially the ninth biggest opening weekend ever at the international box office.

“Unofficially,” however, things are more complicated for several reasons. First of all, there's something called inflation. Second, currency fluctuations radically affect box office grosses when local currencies are converted to US dollars. (That's why the true barometer of a film's popularity is ticket sales, not grosses.)

And finally, movies usually open in different markets on different dates. For instance, Gary Ross / Jennifer Lawrence's The Hunger Games opened in 67 markets, The Avengers in 39, and The Wrath of the Titans in 60.

Anyhow, further below you'll find the top 25 movies on Box Office Mojo's list of biggest international opening weekends ever – or at least this century; it's unclear how far back the list goes. (James Cameron's Titanic, for instance, is nowhere to be found on it.)

And notice the following: the list is composed of only English-language films, and all but the two Twilight movies were produced/co-financed by the Hollywood majors, which have access to multinational distribution venues unavailable to other film companies.

Also: though hardly a household name, David Yates appears four times on the list thanks to the Harry Potter movies. In the acting department, the Harry Potter trio – Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint – appears five times, followed by Robert Downey Jr and Johnny Depp with three times each.

Ah, minor detail: as further proof that audiences worldwide want fresh stories, 17 of the 25 titles listed are movie sequels – 18 if we include The Avengers. However derivative, the only two movies on the list that aren't sequels, remakes, or based on television series/novels are James Cameron's Avatar and Roland Emmerich's 2012.

Ralph Fiennes Lord Voldemort Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2: Biggest International Opening Weekends

  1. David Yates' Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 with Daniel Radcliffe, Ralph Fiennes, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint – $314,000,000
  2. Rob Marshall's Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides with Johnny Depp, Penélope Cruz, Geoffrey Rush – $260,400,000
  3. David Yates' Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince with Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint – $236,000,000
  4. Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 3 with Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco – $230,544,376
  5. Michael Bay's Transformers: Dark of the Moon with Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Josh Duhamel – $219,810,798
  6. Gore Verbinski's Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End with Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley – $216,000,000
  7. David Yates' Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 with Daniel Radcliffe, Ralph Fiennes, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint – $205,000,000
  8. David Yates' Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix with Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint – $193,000,000
  9. Joss Whedon's The Avengers with Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr, Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Renner – $178,400,000
  10. Roland Emmerich's 2012 with John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Thandie Newton – $165,232,860
  11. James Cameron's Avatar with Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver – $164,545,565
  12. Ron Howard's The Da Vinci Code with Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou, Ian McKellen – $155,000,649
  13. Bill Condon's The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 with Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner – $152,900,000
  14. Carlos Saldanha's Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs with the voices of Kristen Wiig, Josh Peck, Jane Lynch, Seann William Scott – $151,697,196
  15. Steven Spielberg's Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull with Harrison Ford, Shia LaBeouf, Cate Blanchett, Karen Allen – $146,972,020
  16. George Lucas' Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith with Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen – $145,500,000
  17. Chris Weitz's The Twilight Saga: New Moon with Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner – $132,100,000
  18. Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King with Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen, Orlando Bloom, Ian McKellen – $125,900,000
  19. Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski's The Matrix Revolutions with Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Hugo Weaving – $117,600,000
  20. Alfonso Cuarón's Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban with Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint – $113,510,000
  21. Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds with Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, Tim Robbins – $102,500,000
  22. Jon Favreau's Iron Man with Robert Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges, Terrence Howard – $99,055,472
  23. David Silverman's The Simpsons Movie with the voices of Hank Azaria, Julie Kavner, Dan Castellaneta – $96,854,197
  24. Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland with Johnny Depp, Mia Wasikowska, Anne Hathaway – $94,000,000
  25. Jon Favreau's Iron Man 2 with Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, Mickey Rourke – $92,643,790

Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort / Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 photo: Jaap Buitendijk / Warner Bros.

Jeremy Renner / The Avengers photo: Zade Rosenthal / Disney.


         
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30 Comments to Marvel 'Avengers' Box Office: Ahead of 'The Dark Knight' & 'Star Wars'?

  1. Q____Q

    While it's nice that Brave has a female lead and you still feel that a woman was directing the movie before she got kicked out, my major critic would be: *another* movie set in unrealistic Whites Only Medieval Europe? There isn't a single PoC in the movie while in reality there where lots of people from all parts of the world in medieval Europe, just like today. But in Hollywood even in Animation there everybody is white.

  2. zac

    @Knossis,
    Thanks for writing and apologies for the delay in replying to your comments.

    I disagree that “using averages is never a good way to get accurate information in support of an argument.” In fact, I'd say it's the *best* way to support an argument. Of course, while taking extreme variations into account.

    My comparison to 1930s' dollar amounts referred to those who assert that a movie is more successful than another because it made more money *today* — and I get those comments all the time. I should have been more clear, as my point — as always — is that *ticket sales* are the true barometer(s) of a movie's success at the box office.

    At the North American box office, “The Dark Knight” remains the most successful movie compared to “The Avengers.”

    As for a different kind of success — not discussed in the article — it's hard to tell. I'm referring to your comment about which movie was more successful in relation to the studio's investment.

    “The Dark Knight” reportedly cost $185m (worldwide gross: $1 billion). “The Avengers” reportedly cost $220m (worldwide gross: $1.45 billion). Depending on how much Warner Bros. and Disney spent on marketing their films, “The Avengers” appears to be the more successful movie overall.

    On the other hand, if you only include the domestic box office — and that's chiefly what my article is about — then “The Dark Knight” and “The Avengers” are about even in terms of cost/box-office ratio.

  3. Knossis

    And every major city has dollar theaters that run the movies months after release. Where do you live, that you don't have them? I seen Batman Begins several times at the dollar theater here in Vegas.

  4. Knossis

    Also using averages is never a good way to get accurate information in support of an argument. And comparing 1930's money to today's money to support your argument of success is silly. You need to compare how much of today's money did Marvel invest and how much of today's money did they get back as a return or investment. And compare how much money did WB INVEST in 2008 and what was their return on investment. And percentage wise, I guarantee Avengers is more successful than TDK.

  5. Knossis

    @zac, Once again, you're looking at one market over another, and using unrealistic senario's to support a Dubois argument. Ticket prices are seldom equal. You have matinee prices, regular pricing, IMAX, 3d, dollar theaters etc. And when comparing nation to nation, the value of a dollar is different. To get an accurate accounting of ticket sales and money earned, you'd have to factor in the value of each ticket sold. You'd have to factor in rereleases and the pricing of tickets when rereleased. How long was the movie in the theater and how long did it take to achieve those ticket sales. If the later portion of TDK'S ticket sales were from the dollar theater, that makes a difference, because Avengers hasn't reached dollar theaters yet. And success is determined by return on investment, money. Marvel spent 220 million on the Avengers and garnered over 1.4 billion in worldwide box office. Way more successful than TDK and probably TDKR. Do not deceive yourselves into thinking studios are having meeting about how many tickets are sold. They concern themselves with initial investment and the return on investment. If the Avengers makes the most amount of money selling the least amount of tickets than TDK. Which is the most successful? Avengers of course, because inflation and 3d can't account for an over 400 million dollar difference in box office. Not to mention TDK took 6 months and a rerelease to hit a billion and get those ticket sales. The Avengers has not even been out 2 months, and there has been no rerelease. So these arguments have no merit.

  6. zac

    Yeah, fact check…

    “The Dark Knight” opened July 20, 2008, in North America.

  7. Rich L.

    Fact check: TDK was rereleased in Jan. of 2009!

  8. zac

    @Knossis,

    Money is the gauge for success? In that case, $1 million today is worth ten times more than $100,000 in 1930. Well, except that it isn't. Much to the contrary.

    Now, let's say — considering equal movie ticket prices — “The Avengers” earns $50m in China (population: 1.1 billion) and $5m in Denmark (population: 5.5 million). Where was “The Avengers” more successful? Really.

    And once you understand the concept of “average” ticket prices, you'll see that the “dollar theaters” have been factored in. (Now, WHERE are those “dollar theaters”???? Tadjikistan??)

  9. Knossis

    Ticket sales aren't the gage of success, money is. TDK took awhile to hit its total and it had to be rereleased to do it. Not to mention, plenty of folks probably waited and caught it at the dollar theaters on the cheap. So your numbers are off to begin with. Avengers doesn't have to make 18 mil to surpass TDK in ticket sales. When it hits the dollar theaters, as all films do. It could sell 5 million more tickets and only make 5 million. You need to factor in everything. And if TDK gets a rerelease to prop up its numbers, so does the avengers.

  10. Adrienne Smith

    If you adjust for inflation for “The Avengers” it comes in at 27th all-time.
    That is still an impressive ranking.

  11. John

    The thing of it is is, in a couple of weeks “The Avengers” will pass “The Dark Knight” in ticket sales. Can't wait.

  12. zac

    @Steven,

    I'm neither a “Dark Knight” fanatic nor a “The Avengers” hater. I'm not 12 years old. I'm an adult, and not a demented one who becomes enraged when his/her favorite movie, soccer team, singer, athlete, religious idol, etc etc. gets surpassed or supplanted by another.

    If memory serves me right, the US economy was already fast on its way down in August 2008. Unemployment was at 6.1%. In April 2012, it was 8.2%. A 2.1% difference cannot be accounted for when it comes to something like box-office receipts.

    Look at AVATAR or ALICE IN WONDERLAND, both released during the height of the “Great Recession,” when unemployment rates were above 10%.

    So, once again, what matters is the following: **ticket sales** (in relation to the population). One can't speculate how this movie or that movie would have performed had it been released when the economy was better or the weather nicer or more public transportation available or fewer distractions distracting potential moviegoers.

    Wrapping this up, KING KONG was a gigantic hit. One of the biggest box-office successes of the '30s. It was released during the height of the Great Depression, 1933. U.S. unemployment rate: 24.9%.

  13. zac

    @Brendan

    So, Heath Ledger died. Okay. Should I have added an estimate for “The Avengers'” box-office take had Chris Hemsworth or Robert Downey Jr been killed? Or had Scarlett Johansson committed harakiri? You can't be serious.

    The above article merely points out that ***the true measure of a film's success at the box office is TICKET SALES***. (If movies released in different decades are being compared, then the population should be compared as well.) That's it.

  14. Brendan

    You've left out an important factor, Dark Knight would never have sold as much as it did if Heath Ledger didn't die! So you're adjusted inaccurate ticket sales don't even reflect anything

  15. Steven Morrow

    While this is all technically true (despite the fact you do not take into account domestic economics and unemployment when figuring ticket sales — one can't help but think you would if it would help your point, which it doesn't), I am truly amazed at the lengths Nolan fans will go to so eagerly discount the Avengers' success, especially before it completes its run. And yes, I realize this was pointed out in the article, but still. T hat's like saying, “It's still too early to officially call it, but see, see, its not REALLY number 3 .”

    I have a strong suspicion if this had been any other movie dethroned than the Dark Knight, technically or otherwise, writers like this would not be so glaringly swift in attempts to dismiss the Avengers' success. I bet when the Dark Knight took the #3 spot, there were far, far fewer writers trying desperately to adjust for inflation to determine its “true” ranking.

  16. zac gille

    @Ryan, @MGE

    Thanks for the comments.

    @Ryan

    Outside the US, a number of countries use both grosses and attendance when discussing a movie's success (or lack thereof).

    Hollywood studios do it differently. They still use the system they came up with in the 1920s.

    For instance, that's why the Hollywood majors' French box-office reports to this day include Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco — French colonies at the time, but independent countries for the past half century or so.

    >>>>>Then TDK came and it was an impressive number, I really thought it was going to make history by taking the new title of top grossing movie. I would like to know, to be fair, did you make the same arguement about ticket prices/IMAX durring this time?

    No. Alt Film Guide has been around for a few years, but I wasn't around then. My box-office posts began showing up sometime in mid-to-late 2010, I think. I don't believe the site, which was quite new then, published box-office analyses at that time.

    >>>>>And when Avatar came around and smashed the AT records, did you call them out?

    Again, I wasn't around, but Michelle Hutton did. (And got hammered for it, too…)

    http://www.altfg.com/blog/box-office/avatar-vs-titanic-box-office-comparison-4345/

    http://www.altfg.com/blog/movies-431/avatar-vs-alice-in-wonderland-box-office-comparison/

    http://www.altfg.com/blog/box-office/avatar-box-office-all-time-domestic-473/

    http://www.altfg.com/blog/box-office/avatar-box-office-all-time-inflation-881/

    And several more…

    Now, I did make inflation- (and IMAX-) adjusted comparisons re: “The Hunger Games” earlier this year. Here's one:

    http://www.altfg.com/blog/movie/the-hunger-games-box-office-mel-gibson-the-passion/

    And will be doing some more when “The Dark Knight Rises” starts “breaking all-time records”…

  17. zac gille

    @rachit,

    This writer didn't forget about the “100 other factors.” Maybe you forgot to read the article in full? They're mentioned in it. And never mind the fact that film attendance has risen in recent years in a number of countries despite DVDs, VOD, Internet, and all those 100 other factors.

    Actually, a movie could theoretically earn $1 billion in North America in 2012. Why not?

    If “Star Wars” could've earned $307.26 million in 1977 when average ticket prices were $2.23 and there were 100 million fewer people in the US and Canada, surely a movie with as wide an appeal would be able to earn $1 billion today. That's a key point in this article: “Star Wars” earned the equivalent of more than $1 billion in 2012 dollars. (The $1b would be even easier to be reached by a 3D movie, which has the advantage of costlier ticket prices. “Star Wars” had no such luck.)

    Now, nowhere do I compare “Star Wars” in 1977 with “Star Wars” in 2012. I'm comparing “Star Wars” in 1977 with “The Avengers” in 2012. I thought that was clear.

    And really, you think “Star Wars” was ahead of its time?? You've never heard of the “Flash Gordon” serials of the 1930s?

    Trust me — or don't; and do a little research on your own: works of art that are ahead of their time are NOT successful when they come out. They become appreciated years, decades, or even centuries later.

  18. rachit

    so are you saying that Star Wars would have made 1.08 billion if it was released today … while it is good to compare inflation adjusted numbers, what you and most other writers forget is that ticket price and population rise aside, there are 100 others factors which have changed in the past 30 years … so keep those intangible factors in mind before comparing inflation adjusted BO ….. i dont think a movie can make 1 billion in US … assuming 10$ per ticket (taking an average for 2D, 3D and IMAX), a movie needs to be watched by close to 20% of the population to reach that level … somehow that does not make sense … also, do you really want to compare Star Wars released in 1977 with Star Wars released in 2012 .. Star Wars was ahead of its time then, which is 1 big factor in its monumental success … that factor wont work now …

  19. MGE

    Hi
    I am a fan of both Avengers and Batman films. I found the article (and in particular the data collection assumptions) valid and fair.

    At the end of the day we are talking about two extremely good films that delivered value for money. I still watch the Dark Knight on DVD years after its cinematic release and I will do the same for the Avengers.

    I can't wait for The Dark Knight Rises.

  20. Ryan

    I 100% agree with you about ticket counts. I think that is the only fair way to measure a films success. However, we simply don't live in that world! When have you ever heard about ticket totals? I am 29 years old, and I was taught that a film's success was based on how much money a movie brings in. We hear totals every sunday, not attendence. Ofcourse, as I grew older, there are other factors that should REALLY be considered, but only people who really care really want to know.

    When Titanic made it's billions, I thought a film would never reach that total for years to come. Then TDK came and it was an impressive number, I really thought it was going to make history by taking the new title of top grossing movie. I would like to know, to be fair, did you make the same arguement about ticket prices/IMAX durring this time? I swear, I'm not trying to sound like a dick, I am just curious. And when Avatar came around and smashed the AT records, did you call them out?

    When I used my St. Louis tickets reference,. I used IMAX, Chesterfield Location, and I used a night show where there wasn't a M or R discount, which I feel is the fair way to judge. If I should have used a discounted time, well, then I apologize.

    I apologize if I sounded like a $%$#@, I really didn't expect you to reply and I am glad you did; I have a new respect for you and your site. =D

  21. zac gille

    @Ryan,

    Of course I'm basing this info on “The Avengers” being out for 3 weekends (or 17 days). After all, “The Avengers” has been out for 17 days. Not 170. Not 1,700.

    As a comparison, I'm using “The Dark Knight” box-office data after it was out for 17 days. Not 170. Not 1,700.

    In other words: the comparison tells you where both movies were at the same time in terms of (estimated) ticket sales. Studio/media spin and b.s. aside, what truly matters when it comes to measuring a film's success is the following: How many tickets did the movie sell (in relation to the population at the time, of course, if we're talking about movies released decades apart). That's it.

    Ah, I'm not sure where in St. Louis (or in which St. Louis) you live, but looking at “The Avengers” 2D vs. 3D ticket costs at AMC Theaters in St. Louis (MO), what I found was: $6.75 vs. $9.75.

    That's not 15%. That's a 45% surcharge. Big difference, no? Our 30% 3D surcharge average looks quite modest in comparison.

    And finally, “The Dark Knight” was screened at 94 IMAX houses. The Avengers” was screened at 275. See the difference?

    Now, only a fanatic would think that stating facts (or estimates based on facts) — as opposed to media hype — is tantamount to “bashing.” No one is bashing anything here.

    The facts bother you? Ignore them. It's your call if you'd rather wallow in the truth-warping hype instead.

  22. Ryan

    Really, what is the point of this article?? You're basing this on a movie being out for 3 weekends. Youre also basing this on silly information.

    Where I live the 3d upsale is roughly 15%, feel free to check out the prices in my town (st. louis). Also, the price of IMAX, 3D or not, is the same price. I'm told IMAX was sold out a few shows, too, on both movies.

    When the movie's final numbers are coming in, this would be an appropriate time to start your bashing on Marvel and how much you love the Batman Trilogy. When this time comes, I will read it from someone who is fair and just and loves the box office.

  23. Aboveall

    According to Variety and “The Hollywood Reporter”, “Dark Shadows” has U$100 million budget…c'mon doesn't even looks like a U$150 million dollar movie…deadline it's just trying to make things looks bigs

  24. MOCK!

    (In terms of actual ticket sales, remember also that unlike The Avengers, most movies on the chart didn't have the advantage of box-office-boosting surcharges from 3D and widespread IMAX screenings.)

    Also, movies on the chart have had the benefit of being rereleased in the theater. As I type this, Avengers has been in the theaters domestically for SEVEN DAYS!!

  25. Betty b

    + tie-ins .. WOW!!

  26. zac gille

    @gopper

    There are different degrees of “underperforming.”

    “John Carter” was a domestic flop, much like “Mars Needs Mom.”

    The other three titles you mentioned were indeed underperformers in that they earned less than expected and certainly not enough to get even close to covering their production and distribution / marketing costs (usually about 50% of production budget, though that can vary widely) at the North American box office.

    “The Muppets”: $88m dom. gross - studio gets about $45m | reported cost: $45m + est. (at least) $20-$25m marketing/distribution expenses

    “Cars 2”: $191m dom gross - studio gets about $100m | reported cost: $200m + est. $100m distribution / marketing expenses

    “TRON: Legacy”: $172m dom. gross - studio gets about $90m | reported cost: $170m + est. $85-$90m marketing / distribution expenses.

    See why those are “disappointing” results at the domestic box office?

  27. gopper

    How is 'The Muppets' a domestic underperfomer? The film grossed $90mil domestically on a $45mil budget. 'Tron: Legacy' made $170mil domestically, which was its budget. Although 'Cars 2' didn't break $200mil, it came close with $190mil in the bag. I can't see how these three can be compared to the truly anemic performance of 'John Carter's ($70mil).

  28. Marc

    I think you might want to rethink your Avengers numbers………..200M, crushed the record!!!

  29. Zac

    This article is about the international box office. Outside North America, THE HUNGER GAMES opened with $59.5 million.

  30. rjwifhfh

    Um…the Hunger Games opened with like 155 million not 59.5