Hulk smash records, indeed. After a long, long, long wait for many fans, The Avengers has finally been unleashed on screens across the world. As with most highly anticipated properties, a considerable number of fans took the opportunity to catch the film at midnight last night—some brave souls even sat through the 13-hour Marvel Movie Marathon leading up to the midnight screening. I don’t think my body could withstand the latter, but I did catch a midnight showing and I wholeheartedly loved nearly every second of writer/director Joss Whedon‘s “mother of all superhero movies.” The film raked in an impressive $18.7 million in midnight tickets, making it the highest grossing midnight showing for a superhero title thus far, besting The Dark Knight’s $18.5 million take in 2008 (your move, The Dark Knight Rises). Hit the jump for more.
While the $18.7 million gross is no slouch, the film does have the advantage of 3D screenings that result in higher ticket prices. Moreover, that number only brings the film to the eight position in the “all-time midnight showing” list. The film that holds that title is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, which earned a jaw-dropping $43.5 million from midnight showings last year, leading to a weekend take of $169.2 million—currently the highest opening weekend of all time.
The Avengers is benefiting from both wildly enthusiastic interest from the fanboy community, as well as stellar reviews from critics (read Matt’s rave review here). Furthermore, Disney’s massive marketing campaign has ensured that there’s nary a human left in the United States who hasn’t been inundated with images, trailers, toys, and soda cups carrying the Avengers moniker. As for that all-time weekend record, Whedon’s all-star superhero pic is poised to debut at around $158.4 million this weekend. That number would put it just behind the final Harry Potter chapter as the second highest grossing film ever.
Marvel and Disney are likely over the moon at the moment, as the film has already grossed nearly $300 million in international box office after an early overseas debut. I wouldn’t be surprised if it holds the number one spot at the box office for more than a few more weekends, as its only serious competition will come towards the end of the month with Men in Black 3. Audiences have been responding just as enthusiastically to the film—if not moreso—than critics, so The Avengers should enjoy some great word of mouth (for those dumb enough not to want to see it in the first place).
Be sure to check back over the weekend for real-time updates on the film’s box office take. That $158 million is merely a guesstimate, so we could see something higher or lower come Sunday. With a number of high profile titles slated for release later this year, including the sure-to-be record breaking Dark Knight Rises, 2012 is shaping up to be an incredibly lucrative year at the movies.