ROBERT DOWNEY JR.’s Tony Stark isn’t just boasting in “The Avengers” when he snarks to the villainous Loki: “We have a Hulk.” Because this team of Avengers is not humble about smashing things — including box-office records.
“The Avengers” has just grossed a staggering $200.3-million in its domestic debut, according to studio estimates — the biggest bow-in ever by more than $30-million. That’s such a wide margin, even the team’s Hawkeye would have to admire how massively the Disney/Marvel film over-shot expectations. Final studio numbers are expected Monday.
[Update: Monday’s final numbers reflected an even more eye-popping total: “The Avengers” grossed $207.4-million domestically, says the distributor Disney.]
The record-holder had been last year’s “Harry Potter” finale — “Deathly Hallows, Part 2” — which had a domestic debut of $169.2-million, topping the previous record-setter, Warner Bros./DC Entertainment’s “The Dark Knight”($158.4-million). That Batman franchise will have the opportunity to reclaim its record when the reportedly final Caped Crusader film in Christopher Nolan’s trilogy, “The Dark Knight Rises,” opens in July.
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“Marvel’s The Avengers” also has grossed $441.5-million overseas, raising its total to a whopping $654.8 million — more than previous Marvel Studios films, even “Iron Man 2” ($624-million), made globally in their entire runs. (Fun fact: Spider-Man is the only Marvel character who has grossed more globally than team “Avengers.”)
Industry trackers say that “The Avengers” is a lock to gross more than $1-billion globally — and that the superhero tent-pole is on a pace to become the fourth highest-grossing film ever — behind only “Avatar,” ”Titanic” and the Harry Potter finale — meaning that “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” are within reach.
Comic Riffs predicted last week that “The Avengers” would topple “Potter’s” opening-weekend record — based largely on positive reviews and Fandango presale reports, as well as the deftness of Marvel’s financially bold initiative. Namely: Make two “Iron Man” blockbusters (powered by Robert Downey Jr.’s iron suit and irony-spiked charisma), and give Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans) and Hulk (baton and torn pants now passed to Mark Ruffalo) their own films — all to ramp up maximum interest in director Joss Whedon’s massive new assemblage. (For fanboy-fave Whedon, of course, the showing of “Avengers” — the director’s first blockbuster flick — opens up new realms of the Hollywood kingdom.)
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But few — if any — predicted that even “Avengers” would obliterate the record by passing the magic $200-million mark. (Then again, Iron Man — that demon in a box office — does like to test the limits of the highest altitudes.)
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“We keep thinking we have a sense of what this movie can do, or will do, and every time we get a report it does even better,” said Dave Hollis, Disney’s executive vice-president of distribution, according to Reuters. “This is very satisfying, to say the least.”
“The Avengers” is the first Marvel film that Disney has distributed, and helps the studio offset its stated “loss of $200-million” on this year’s “John Carter.”
“The Avengers” reportedly is playing on more than 4,300 North American screens this weekend — more than 3,300 of them with premium 3-D pricing (yes, such a huge factor in so much modern blockbuster accounting) — and 275 IMAX screens.
FUN WITH NUMBERS
How the current “Avengers” box-office totals break down:
1. Domestically, “The Avengers” set new all-time marks for Saturday gross ($69.7-million) and Sunday gross ($50.1-million). A clean half of the audience was younger than 25 — and about 60-percent of the moviegoers were dudes.
2. In a single weekend, “The Avengers” has grossed more domestically than the Marvel hits “Thor” ($181 million), “Captain America” ($176.6-million) and “The Incredible Hulk” ($134.8-million).did in their entire runs.
3. “The Avengers” had the highest per-theater average ($46,057) ever for a nationwide release, according to BoxOfficeMojo.
4. “The Avengers’ “ domestic total was more than 82-percent of the estimated $242-million that the weekend’s top-12 films grossed cumulatively, Box OfficeMojo adds — the second-highest weekend market share ever.
5. Between his “Iron Man”/”Avengers” and “Sherlock Holmes” franchises, Downey Jr. has seen five of his films since 2008 gross more than a half-billion globally — with at least several more sequels in store.
The third “Iron Man” is
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