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Audiences Assemble in a Big Way for “The Avengers”

May 7, 2012

By John C.

After the lead up of five blockbuster films and years of anticipation amongst Marvel fans, The Avengers opened to the tune of $207.4 million, literally smashing first weekend box office records both here and across the border.  Add in another $447.4 million from international sales, and you get a bona fide success story centred around one of the biggest movies of all time.

This is quite literally the culmination of so many factors falling perfectly into place, and it wouldn’t at all be an understatement to say that The Avengers was quite simply too big to fail.  The previous opening weekend record was held by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 which opened with $169.2 million last summer, a number that has been greatly surpassed in less than a year.

Box office has already been a hot discussion topic in the industry many times this year.  With audience numbers up from where they were last year and the $152.5 million opening weekend for The Hunger Games in March, it’s clear studios and movie theatres are doing something right.  But I would like to think that part of it comes down to the fact that The Avengers and The Hunger Games are both thrilling blockbusters that also work as pieces of smart filmmaking, meaning that audiences are looking for genuinely good movies to go along with their popcorn.

After their acquisition of Marvel Comics several years back, Walt Disney Studios subsequently struck a distribution deal with Paramount Pictures and was responsible for bringing The Avengers to theatres.  I couldn’t be happier for their success. There is only one other movie opening this summer that has any hopes of besting $207.4 million on opening weekend, and that is Christopher Nolan’s much anticipated The Dark Knight Rises.  But even then, that Warner Bros. film will likely open somewhere just below the magic $200 million.  The next Marvel movie will be Iron Man 3 coming next May 3rd, and official word on a sequel to The Avengers is expected to drop any day now.

Especially in the wake of the financially disappointing John Carter, I would like to commend the entire Disney team for the immense success of the film.  “The performance of Marvel’s The Avengers truly exceeded our expectations,” said Greg Mason, Vice President of Marketing at Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Canada.  “At the end of the day, we had the perfect combination of a great film that satisfied audiences of all ages (A+ CinemaScore), positive reviews and a great campaign,” he said when I asked him just how much of the financial success could be attributed to the extremely positive buzz that The Avengers received.  I think he summed it up perfectly when he went on to add, “plus, we had a Hulk!”

“We approach the marketing for each of our films in its own unique way,” Greg Mason said when I asked him if the encouraging response to this recent campaign will have any effect on their marketing for upcoming summer movies.  Adding that they “look forward to bringing movie fans Disney•Pixar’s next great adventure when Brave hits theatres on June 22nd,” it’s clear that Disney has renewed faith in their approach to selling a film.  But I think it’s obvious that the bar has already been set very high when it comes to box office returns for this summer and the rest of the year.

This leads to even bigger questions, like can The Avengers shoot past the $2.7 billion mark and dethrone Avatar as the highest grossing film of all time?  I don’t think anybody really knows at this point in time, but the success of the film truly does come down to so many different things falling perfectly into place, and I will be surprised if this opening weekend record is surpassed any time soon.  For now, we should all celebrate the historic success of The Avengers, one of the biggest movies of all time.

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