'The Hunger Games' Rules the Box Office, but New Report Says 'The Avengers' Could Blow It Out of the Water
We’re pretty confident Joss Whedon’s The Avengers, which kicks off Summer 2012 on May 4, is going to be big. Massive, even.
But how high, from a box office perspective, is the film’s ceiling? Can it be as big as Avatar, James Cameron’s blockbuster which currently holds the record for being the highest-grossing film of all time? Can it even reach the astronomical levels currently attained by this year’s breakout hit, The Hunger Games?
To answer that question, we have to explain just how high The Hunger Games has reached. Over the weekend, Gary Ross’ stupendous blockbuster held on to the top slot on the box office Top 10 for a fourth consecutive frame. Ironically, it is the first film since Avatar back in 2009 to hold onto the No. 1 position for that amount of time. And with an estimated $337 million in the bank, The Hunger Games remains the highest-grossing film of 2012.
Many expect that at some point this summer, more films will come along and beat Games’ current box office record. However, the more Games earns, the fewer number of films likely will climb to its stratosphere.
Take 2011, for example. Last year, only two films crossed the $350M mark at the domestic box office: Transformers: Dark of the Moon; and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.
The Hunger Games absolutely will cross the $350M mark … probably as early as next weekend. Will there be more than two additional films released this year that surpass $350M? And will The Avengers be one of them?
Pre-release tracking figures seem to suggest that’s likely. THR on Monday reported that The Avengers is on pace to have the largest opening weekend of any comic book-related property, targeting a number north of the $158.4 million earned by Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight in 2008. Unaided awareness in Avengers is 13 percent, according to the trade, compared with 10 percent for Dark Knight and 11 percent for Hunger Games. Total awareness is 85 percent, compared with 76 percent for Dark Knight and 74 percent for Hunger Games.
All signs point to Avengers opening big. But for how many weekends will the blockbuster be able to sustain its momentum?
Here’s a factor most haven’t considered when it comes to The Avengers versus The Hunger Games – competition. Katniss Everdeen may have faced fierce adversaries in the arena, but her movie hasn’t had a stiff challenger, allowing Games to hold on to the top slot at the box office (and fill its bank vaults). The Avengers – as is the case in the summer movie season – will have Dark Shadows, The Dictator, Battleship and Men in Black 3 on the immediate horizon, and all of them will bite into the film’s potential box office.
Still, these tracking numbers are beyond encouraging for Walt Disney Pictures and Marvel Studios, which will unleash The Avengers into a theater near you on May 4. And it also means that if you don’t have a ticket for opening weekend yet, grab one quick, because data suggests they are going fast.
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Sean O'ConnellFandango Bloggers
Sean is a film reviewer for The Washington Post and daily contributor to Fandango.