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Marvel 'Avengers': Ahead or Behind 'Titanic' & 'The Dark Knight'? + 'Abraham Lincoln' Movie Flops

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 Box Office Mojo. 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 ($50.68m).*

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.

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15 Comments to Marvel 'Avengers': Ahead or Behind 'Titanic' & 'The Dark Knight'? + 'Abraham Lincoln' Movie Flops

  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.