Weekend Box Office – THE AVENGERS Breaks All-Time Domestic Record with an Astounding $200.3 Million!

     May 6, 2012


The speculation stops here. The Avengers has crushed the all-time domestic weekend record by more than anyone imagined. Taking in an estimated $200.3 million from 4,349 locations, the Marvel superheroes flew past the $169.1 million of previous record-holder Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.

Title Weekend Total
1 The Avengers $200,300,000 $200.3
2 Think Like A Man $8,000,000 $73
3 The Hunger Games $5,700,000 $380.7
4 The Lucky One $5,510,000 $47.9
5 Pirates! Band of Misfits $5,400,000 $18.5
6 The Five-Year Engagement $5,088,000 $19.1
7 Safe $2,508,000 $12.8
8 The Raven $2,470,000 $12
9 Chimpanzee $2,395,000 $23
10 The Three Stooges $1,800,000 $39.6

avengers-hawkeye-captain-america-black-widow-jeremy-renner-chris-evans-scarlett-johanssonHoly crap! If you read our article yesterday about the chances The Avengers had of passing the last Harry Potter film to take the domestic record, you know that even those who believed it could and would be done did not think it would be done by this much!  Instead of the $175 million that was projected, The Avengers has become the first film to break what many box office watchers believed to be an unbreakable barrier – $200 million in just three days. So add “Fastest to $200 million” to The Avengers growing list of shattered records!

Here is the new domestic top five for biggest first weekends

Title Total
1 The Avengers $200.3
2 Harry Potter 7 Part 2 $169.1
3 The Dark Knight $158.4
4 The Hunger Games $152.5
5 Spider-Man 3 $151.1


I will freely admit that I didn’t imagine I’d be writing this story. Which is not to say that I did not think The Avengers would be huge; I just did not think they would get to “All-Time Record” and-then-some huge. This is just one more example of how even folks who write about the box office for a living can get it wrong. If you’re keeping track, earlier this year I didn’t think The Hunger Games would get close to the third-highest domestic opening record (topping all Twilight Saga features in the process); and just last week I couldn’t imagine that Think Like A Man would claim a second week at number one (at least, not so definitively).  And that’s just 2012. The legendary run of Paul Blart: Mall Cop in 2009 still haunts me.

So, what did I think I’d be writing today? I was thinking more along the lines of “The Avengers top The Dark Knight for Second-Highest Weekend Debut of All-Time.”  The days are long gone when the $158.4 million of that 2008 blockbuster seemed untouchable. The $169.1 million of the final Harry Potter film, on the other hand? I thought that record would stand for awhile yet; or at least until The Dark Knight Rises this summer.

It has always been my belief that true blockbusters have to have a little something extra to get up to record-breaking levels. For example, the type of publicity that comes after one of your stars tragically dies before the premiere; or when the most profitable franchise in history wraps up its storied decade-long run. A record-breaker has to offer something for audiences outside of its target demographic, in other words. And, amazing ensemble cast aside, it was not clear to me that The Avengers was up to that challenge.

I have, er, assembled a list of the Marvel films that have led to this historic box office moment:

  1. Iron Man (2008) – $98.6 mil. debut; $318.4 domestic/$585.1 worldwide
  2. Iron Man 2 (2010) – $128.1 mil. debut; $312.4 domestic/$623.9 worldwide
  3. The Incredible Hulk (2008) – $55.4 mil debut; $134.8 domestic/$263.4 world
  4. Thor (2011) – $65.7 mil. debut; $181 domestic/$449.3 worldwide
  5. Captain America (2011) – $65 mil. opening; $176.6 domestic/$368.6 worldwide


avengers-imax-posterAll of five films debuted at number one – both Iron Man movies on this same weekend – but none hinted at the type of fanbase that this weekend’s enormous $200.3 million suggests. And, before you ask, yes – I left off Ang Lee’s 2003’s Hulk on purpose. No need to mar the occasion.

So, what does this movie have that the others didn’t? Aside from the obvious fact that five are superheroes are better than one, the fact that The Avengers had a 3D price premium is part of the reason it was able to pass The Dark Knight and Deathly Hallows 2.  And, the selection of Joss Whedon as director brought raised eyebrows from some in the industry, but I would argue that his involvement added Whedonverse fans to The Avengers’ already sizable appeal. Then there is the incredible marketing job that Marvel’s new owners/partners at Disney achieved. I am sure there wasn’t a person on the planet that didn’t know about The Avengers from as far back as 2009… or at least after Captain America got the subtitle The First Avenger.

Speaking of the planet, we told you yesterday that international numbers for The Avengers already topped $334 million after one week.  Add today’s $200.3 million domestic haul and that already tops $530 million in just ten days… and that doesn’t count Saturday’s and Sunday’s overseas numbers. (UPDATE: according to Disney, the worldwide estimate now stands at $641.8 million in twelve days).

With no other movies opening wide this weekend, I am going to end by revealing the unsurprising news that this weekend easily outpaced 2011 (and the debut of Marvel’s Thor) by over 30%.  Clearly next weekend’s Dark Shadows is not going to come close to challenging The Avengers so the only question left is: how front-loaded will this film be? I’d tell you my thoughts, but I’m pretty sure they’d be wrong.

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