|Photo: Digital Trends|
I'm sure that Marvel and Paramount are ecstatic (and relieved) that their $300 million-budgeted cash cow experiment was able to churn out a whopping and unprecedented $207 million at the box office in its very first weekend. Let's face it, this is the first movie of it's kind; a conglomeration of highly successful and marketable superhero franchises -- a super-franchise, really. It could've pulled in a mere $130 million (about the same as Iron Man 2) over the weekend and the studio heads would've been satisfied, I suspect, because given that the same audience that shows up in droves for the Iron Man movies -- Marvel's most marketable superhero franchise, thanks in large part to the recent emergence of R.D.J.'s unrivaled star power -- is presumably the same audience that shows up for Thor, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, etc. (i.e., less profitable Marvel franchises), wouldn't it seem reasonable to assume that the fate of The Avengers would ride significantly on the brand equity of its charismatic and narrative centerpiece, Tony Stark?
As it was, The Avengers managed to surpass box-office juggernauts such as 2011's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two (by about $37 million) and 2008's The Dark Knight (by nearly $50 million) to claim the top spot on the list of highest domestic weekend openings, ever. And it wasn't even close. It also just surpassed $700 million worldwide (as of 5/08), which puts it, oh, about $80 million above what Iron Man 2 was able to earn durings it entire theatrical run. It's unprecedented, and given the luxury of hindsight (I'm assuming at this point that the film will earn at least $450 million domestically... and that's pretty conservative) I'd say it's not only a fortuitous experiment, but also likely the way of the future, at least as far as Hollywood superhero franchising goes. (Mark my words: that Justice League movie will inevitably get made, despite any opposition from Christian Bale, Christopher Nolan, or whoever else.)
More after the jump...