Last week, the Gotcha Digest reported that “The Avengers” looks like it could open with either “$125+” million or “$100+” million. (Very specific and understandable numbers there, right? Because $126 million or $126 billion would fit that framework, because she doesn’t actually specify what her sources are predicting, nor does she clarify what the tracking numbers even mean by giving us context.) Regardless, that actually felt like nothing more than Disney lowballing the film so it doesn’t fail to meet expectations. Because it seemed impossible for this movie to open with less than $140 or $150 million, right? At least that was my initial gut feeling. And the latest tracking numbers indicate that this thing is going to be really, really big.
The Hollywood Reporter has the latest tracking information, and it’s nothing but great news for Disney: The film is tracking better than “The Dark Knight” ($158 million opening) and “The Hunger Games” ($152 million), and those films notched the second- and third-biggest opening weekends in box office history. (The eighth and final “Harry Potter” currently holds the record with $169 million, thanks to 3-D ticket prices.) The numbers:
According to first tracking, unaided awareness in Avengers is 13 percent, compared with 10 percent for Dark Knight and 11 percent for Hunger Games; first choice is 23 percent, tying with Hunger Games and higher than the 19 percent for Dark Knight.
Total awareness is 85 percent, compared with 76 percent for Dark Knight and 74 percent for Hunger Games; definite interest is 61 percent, versus 62 percent for Dark Knight and 54 percent for Hunger Games.
Remember, “The Avengers” doesn’t open for another two and a half weeks. The Marvel record is currently held by ”Iron Man 2″ ($128 million), while the Disney record is held by “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” ($135 million). ”The Avengers” is going to beat those films handily.
Since the movie is a couple of weeks away, I’m going to just go out on a limb now and register my prediction: I’m betting on an opening of $160 million dollars, good enough for the second-highest all-time debut (or at least holding that spot until “The Dark Knight Rises” lands in July). I had previously thought this movie was going to earn in the neighborhood of $325 million at the domestic box office; now I’m thinking it has a shot to hit $375-$400 million. Large numbers!
(And, by the way, “The Dark Knight Rises” will probably earn a similar amount. That would give us at least three $350 million dollar movies this year thanks to “The Hunger Games.” The last time that happened was 2004, when “The Passion of the Christ,” “Shrek 2″ and “Spider-Man 2″ all topped that figure. I don’t think there’s a fourth film in store, unless “The Amazing Spider-Man” or “Men in Black 3″ over-perform.)