Weekend Box Office: Marvel’s The Avengers Hulk Smashes Its Way To Biggest Opening Weekend In History

What is this Point Break you speak of?

A multi-quadrant release, The Avengers combined the talents of four blockbuster superhero stars and it was looking to surpass the earnings of Marvel Studios’ Iron Man 2 which, in 2010, had set an opening weekend record for the studio with $128 million earned in three days. That release didn’t have the benefit of 3D to add to its earnings; had the Iron Man sequel been enhanced by three dimensions it could have made upwards of $145 million. Still, I don’t think anyone could have expected the final tally this weekend. The Avengers was able to better the combined opening grosses of Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger on its way to finishing higher than previous opening weekend record holder, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. While Potter still hold the opening day record of $91 million, Marvel’s The Avengers looks to finish the weekend with a record setting $200 million.

And if you’re not down with that, Iron Man has two words for you. “Avenge This!”

Worldwide it should have hit $600 million by the end of Sunday. With an A+ CinemaScore and unbelievable word-of-mouth from audiences, rival studios are no doubt shaking as an uneasiness begins to creep in. Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows sees him pairing up again with Johnny Depp for the one-billionth time to blow the cobwebs off an old ’70s gothic soap and freshen it up for a whole new audience. Then in two weeks time we have the arrival of Battleship, which has done little to present any type of character in its advertisements. It’s mostly just wall to wall explosions for two and a half minutes.

Though The Avengers may have Paramount Pictures name on it, this is mostly a win for Disney who acquired the Marvel Comics brand in 2009, then in 2010 bought Paramount out of the final two films of its 6-picture distribution deal with Marvel Studios (The Avengers and Iron Man 3). As such, this is the first Marvel Studios film owned, marketed and distributed by The Walt Disney Studios. The $200 million success will make it that much easier for the studio to stomach the monetary loss it suffered with the release of John Carter back in March. It will also make it easier to move into sequel mode as we can expect a third Iron Man in May 2013, a Thor 2 in November 2013, and the studio is eying a May 16, 2014 release date for an Avengers sequel, one month after a Captain America sequel sees its arrival in theaters. If anything the success of The Avengers will give its writer/director, Joss Whedon, untold riches. At least he won’t be dickish about it, unlike Brett Ratner.

In case you were wondering, there were other movies playing this weekend. The success of that certain superhero team movie caused the end of Think Like a Man‘s two week reign at the top of box office. But it has passed $70 million in three weeks. Not bad for a romantic ensemble comedy that was mostly seen as something with little crossover appeal. Taking the bronze this weekend was Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games, which just passed $380 million. It now sets its sights on $400 million and could get there considering that it has been in the top 3 mix since its bow in late March.

There’s a bit of a logjam in spots 4, 5, 6 and only a few $100k separate all three contenders. Nicholas Sparks’ The Lucky One did just enough business to stay above The Pirates! Band of Misfits. It’s looking at $50 million, while the only animated film in the top ten took a tumble in its second week of release. The Aardman ‘toon had a steep drop even with the added benefit of 3D. Thankfully it’s a decent hit overseas with $70 million already earned. And The Five-Year Engagement, though marketed as this year’s Bridesmaids, is performing like Judd Apatow’s Drillbit Taylor. For lightning to strike twice in terms of repeating the success of Bridesmaids, Universal would have been better off putting a call in to Thor to expedite the process.

The Raven and Jason Statham’s latest starring vehicle, Safe, both took massive drops in attendance, losing more than 65% of its first-week viewership. Chimpanzee and The Three Stooges round out the top ten because not enough people wanted to see The Cabin in the Woods or John Carter, I’m afraid. In the case of Chimpanzee, Disney’s latest nature documentary surpassed the earnings of Oceans to become Disneynature’s second-highest grossing documentary release.

New in limited release was The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Already a hit worldwide with $73 million in earnings, it added another $750k in the States at 27 locations. Richard Linklater’s Bernie saw expansion from three to eight screens this weekend and brought in $140k as a result. Newcomer First Position amassed $51k on five screens, while the Kate Hudson starrer A Little Bit of Heaven could only pull in $9.8k from 11 theaters. And to think she had a string of $21 million openings at one time. But that probably had more to do with her co-stars (Matthew McConaughey, Owen Wilson) more than her own star status.

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