Can THE AVENGERS Beat HARRY POTTER’s Box Office Record? [UPDATED: Yes]

     May 5, 2012

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As you’re aware, Marvel’s The Avengers is an enormous success.  Disney’s massive marketing campaign looks to have paid off in spades, and the film is enjoying the rare enthusiastically positive reaction from both critics and audiences.  Joss Whedon’s all-star superhero pic currently stands at a very fresh 93% on Rotten Tomatoes and a respectable 69 on the more nuanced Metacritic scale.  Moreover, the film scored a coveted “A+” rating from Cinemascore which measures audience reaction.  The film earned $80.5 million on opening day, making it second only to the $91 million take scored by last year’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2.

That franchise closer currently holds the number one spot on the All-Time weekend chart, but does The Avengers have a shot at dethroning The Boy Who Lived?  Hit the jump for more. [Update: The official estimates are in, and it appears that The Avengers bested Harry Potter by a not-so-narrow margin. More after the jump]

avengers-movie-image-chris-evans-robert-downey-jrBefore we get into the All-Time weekend race, let’s briefly discuss the international box office for The Avengers.  The film opened early in many overseas markets, and it’s clear that the superhero movie has substantial worldwide appeal.  The pic debuted to a $178.4 million international opening weekend, and the current international gross stands at $334.3 million.  The worldwide total now looks to land around at least $575 million by Monday, and repeat business in the coming weeks should keep that number moving higher and higher.

It’s important to note that The Avengers is benefiting from 3D ticket prices, so the film has a great advantage heading into the record-breaking race.  2008’s The Dark Knight currently holds the #2 position on the opening weekend chart with $158 million, while this year’s other record-breaker The Hunger Games stands at #3 with $152 million, narrowly edging out Spider-Man 3’s $151.  That said, none of these titles had the ticket price uptick of 3D, and only one film stands in the way of The Avengers taking the crown.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 opened to $169 million last summer.  Not only did the film enjoy 3D ticket prices, but it had the benefit of being the closing chapter in the highest grossing film franchise of all time.  The Avengers also has a built-in audience, 3D, and stellar reviews, but it doesn’t come with the finality that Harry Potter had (that aspect should make The Dark Knight Rises a contender later this summer).

The Friday take of The Avengers is $10 million shy of Harry Potter, which some would assume means it’ll fall short of the All-Time opening weekend title.  However, everyone knew what they were getting with Harry Potter.  Though The Avengers has a huge built-in audience and a fair amount of general appeal, a lot of people didn’t expect it to be such a great movie. Whedon’s pic should enjoy enthusiastically positive word of mouth this weekend—not to mention repeat business—so we could see an uptick in Saturday and Sunday’s audience.

the-avengers-team-imageEstimates have the film earning anywhere between $165 and $175 million this weekend, so the jury’s still out on whether it’ll topple Harry Potter.  If I had to guess, I’d say the word of mouth will result in The Avengers narrowly edging out Harry Potter and taking the All-Time opening weekend title.  Until The Dark Knight Rises comes to challenge the throne in July, that is.

It’s important to remember that this is all conjecture at this point; no one knows exactly how well the film will do today and tomorrow.  What is known is that The Avengers is an incredibly well-liked movie that is playing like gangbusters across the globe.  Whether it breaks the All-Time weekend record or not, Disney and Marvel have a colossal success on their hands.  This can only mean good things for the superhero genre, and hopefully studios will understand that the movie is a blockbuster not just because it features people in funny costumes and explosions, but because Joss Whedon wrote and directed a quality film that delivers on entertainment, character, and humor.

[Update: Not only did The Avengers beat Harry Potter‘s box office record, it essentially crushed it.  Official estimates have the superhero team-up scoring an amazing $200.3 million, crushing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2‘s record by over $30 million.  This is way higher than anyone even guessed, and it appears the film benefited from an insane amount of word-of-mouth.  This record is something I don’t expect to be broken anytime soon, as it’s more akin to Sam Raimi‘s 2002 pic Spider-Man which grossed $114.2 million and became the first film to cross the $100 million mark in a single weekend.  Whatever eventually overtakes The Avengers‘ record, it’ll have to be a film enjoying the price uptick of 3D and IMAX theaters.]

For more on The Avengers, here are Steve’s recent interviews with:

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