TOMORROW, the highly anticipated, exquisitely hyped sequel to 2012’s “The Avengers” will land in North America, where within several days it will likely break all manner of opening-weekend records at the box office. That’s largely because the hordes have been primed, pumped and consumer-serviced like IndyCars at the starting line. The “Furious 7” machine was built to set some short-lived 2015 benchmarks; “Avengers” 2 is engineered to blow by each of those split-figures.
Now, in other words, Disney and Marvel sit back and try to topple their own records. And who knows? There’s always the distant chance that the re-teamed Avengers can soar into rarefied James Cameron territory.
“Avengers: Age of Ultron” has already grossed more than $200-million overseas. Now, director Joss Whedon and the rest of Team Ultron hope to pass that number in a single domestic weekend.
The North American record for opening weekend, of course, remains held by “The Avengers,” which in May of 2012 debuted to a whopping $207.4-million. No film has even sniffed that total since — the next-best being “Iron Man 3’s” $174.1-million opening — yet anything short of the first film’s mark, no matter how spun, would surely be seen as a disappointment within Disney. At 2015 ticket prices, plus some of those IMAX bucks, “Age of Ultron” is poised to top $210-million by Monday’s post-estimate reports.
After that, naturally, Iron Man and Cap and Thor hope to hulk out atop the box office for several weeks, until “Furious 7’s” total is in the rear view and Jimmy Cameron’s twin behemoths are on the horizon line.
Globally, Cameron’s “Avatar” levitates like an untouchable at $2.79-billion, followed by his contextually ancient “Titanic” at $2.19-billion — with his ’90s film remaining all the more impressive because its take is not adjusted for inflation. They are followed by the first “Avengers” ($1.52-billion) and the still-climbing “Furious 7” ($1.35-billion for now).
So perhaps the big question within several weeks is whether “Age of Ultron” can crack the golden $2-billion mark where only one director has ever tread.
In trying to track down Cameron, though, the domestic front seems like friendlier terrain. The first “Avengers” grossed $623.4-million to finish third all-time — less than $36-million behind “Titanic.” And if every box-office domino were to topple just right, it’s not impossible that “Age of Ultron” could catch “Avatar” ($760-million) and become the biggest North American film ever.
But for now, a record-breaking first weekend is the rich target — emphasis on “rich.”
Disney stockholders, assemble.