For my complete Summer 2012 Preview, click here.
Earlier this year, I outlined my thoughts on what was to come at the box office in 2012. So far, a few have been accurate while others (cough, The Hunger Games, cough) have been…well, forgettable. Like any good prognosticator though, its time to suck up the occasional losses and move on with some more outlined thoughts on this summer’s biggest films. Today, I’m starting with none other than some massive revisions on…
Marvel has been building up to this movie for over five years. With excellent reviews, a huge overseas debut ahead of its North American release, and incredible early buzz domestically … its safe to say that its going to pay off. Big time.
While some may argue that the performances of Thor and Captain America suggest a law of diminishing returns in this series, I simply view those films as being the middle chapters in a much bigger grand scheme. This is a new kind of franchise, but at the end of the day this is the picture that audiences have been waiting for since first seeing that random clip of Nick Fury in Tony Stark’s mansion at the end of 2008′s original Iron Man. The Avengers, for all intents and purposes, is the cap on a film series that officially started at that moment.
Is the final Harry Potter film’s $169 million opening weekend record attainable? In my opinion, yes. This is easily the biggest event film to kick-off summer since 2007′s Spider-Man 3, and with the added attraction of being the first film to assemble popular stand-alone comic book characters into one movie, I firmly believe the appeal to the masses is going to be strong enough to bring out many of those that drove the first and third Spider-Man flicks to opening weekend records in early May 2002 and 2007. Thor, Captain America, and The Hulk may not be popular enough characters to make $300 million on their own, but add in the ever-popular Robert Downey, Jr.‘s take on Iron Man alongside a huge marketing campaign and the promise of the ideal summer popcorn flick and we have a whole greater than the sum of its parts.
3D prices are certainly going to contribute, and while I’m not going to officially predict it (yet?), this is the first time in history we can seriously talk about a $200 million opening weekend. One need only look at the openings of The Dark Knight and Spider-Man 3 to figure out how: each one adjusts to approximately $172-173 million when accounting for ticket price inflation since their respective releases. If you add an additional 15% from 3D prices that Avengers should boast (and the other two did not), we then see the magical $200 million threshold is within reach. Its not a matter anymore of whether or not that figure is possible, its just a matter of demand.
Interestingly enough, it was exactly ten years ago this weekend that Spider-Man reached — and slaughtered — the $100 million opening weekend threshold for the first time in history. Even more interesting is the fact it broke the first Harry Potter‘s opening record in the process. History looks to, and often does, repeat itself.
The pre-sold fanboy audience and mainstream interest in the film reminds me of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen just prior to its release in summer 2009. That sequel disappointed some audiences and still managed to crack $400 million domestically (without 3D). As with Avengers so far, pre-sales were strong but midnight shows weren’t selling out like that of a series with a huge fan frenzy behind it. Instead, I think we can again expect walk-up sales for the Marvel flick to be stellar come Thursday night and Friday afternoon — especially with most kids still in school and college students just starting to finish up the semester.
With strong reviews, marginal competition, kiddie audiences that will eat this up well into June, and a 3D price advantage, I’ve come around to believing in a final domestic gross over $400 million and a global tally that tops $1 billion (a first for Marvel).
Check back this weekend for my final revision on Avengers and my full Summer Preview — including predictions for The Dark Knight Rises and full analysis on what I’m thinking the top five grossers of the season will be.