Sunday, May 3, 2015

Lofty Expectations: Don't Fret Over 'Avengers' Opening

I, like many a box office predictor on the blogosphere, predicted that Avengers: Age of Ultron would open higher than its record-breaking predecessor. At the same time, I was cautious...

The Avengers, to me, was probably one of "those" films, box office-wise. Films that everybody and their brother goes to see, even people who don't bother going to flicks. Films like The Lion King, Titanic, Spider-ManFinding Nemo, The Dark Knight, Avatar...

It took many years for Disney Animation to see a film that would match The Lion King's grosses, and even then, worldwide phenomenon Frozen grossed $200 million less than what Lion King made adjusted back in 1994, domestically. Spider-Man 2, despite being superior to its predecessor in the eyes of many, didn't outgross the first film. Finding Nemo sold the most tickets out of any Pixar film, Toy Story 3 - despite grossing more - didn't outsell it. Finding Nemo is the second most-attended computer animated film of all time behind Shrek 2, which came out the year after. 2003-2004 was arguably the height of CG animated films, the summit of the momentum mountain.

If the first couple of post-Lion King features were as well-received as that 1994 film, I doubt they would've made Lion King numbers as well. They probably would've made Aladdin numbers at best. $300 million was not an easy total to rack up in 1994, that's for damn sure. Nothing in 1995 made more than $191 million domestically, 1996 had Independence Day, which made $306 million stateside. Then along came Titanic the next year, but nothing grossed $400 million since that film came out... Spider-Man did! In 2002, some 4 1/2 to 5 years later!

My theory is that when something is new and fresh, it takes off... Everything after it won't make as much.

Spider-Man 2 was most likely not going to make Spider-Man numbers to begin with. Outside of Titanic, Spider-Man was the only movie to cross $400 million on its initial run (leaving out the likes of Star Wars and E.T., which got to that mark thanks to re-releases) until Shrek 2 came out in 2004. It became less and less of a magic number by 2010. So Spider-Man 2 still took in an excellent $373 million, that's amazing that it even got there. It still maintained a level of high quality and left audiences satisfied, so it hung on and wasn't too far behind part uno domestically. Spider-Man 3 could've made just as much, but it left a lot of audiences cold.

Titanic and Avatar are anomalies of sorts. James Cameron must've had a golden touch with those two films, but they had the right elements for everyone and they came out at the right time. I don't expect Avatar 2, now that it's probably been delayed from a possible 2017 release once again, to come anywhere near Avatar's $749 million total domestically.

So it's no shock that Avengers: Age of Ultron didn't open as high as the first one. Everyone went to the first one, it was new and novel. It's not so novel anymore because, well, it's the second time the heroes teamed up to fight one heck of a foe. It's not so "wow!" the second time around.

Some think the lower opening might've been due to the Fight of the Century yesterday, or everything I just went over above. However, these are the weekend estimates, but most of the time Box Office Mojo's estimates are spot on so don't be shocked if it opens with $186-188 million. There could be an unprecedented uptick today, and that it could actually finish with $195 million or up. If it doesn't...

Why the fuss?

$187 million is still the second biggest domestic box office opening of all time. In third place is Iron Man 3, $13 million behind... What's in fourth place? The final Harry Potter with $169 million. It's not like movies can easily cough up $187 million, heck! A lot of people thought The Avengers would make around $300-400 million domestically, tops. My prediction was around $330 million! How wrong was I back then!

The Marvel magic isn't waning, audiences are still super-excited about these films. I see all these "think pieces" that keep calling Marvel movies the end of art in cinema, or the death of cinema, or whatever. Now these people are happily thinking that a hole in the proverbial balloon has been pricked, and will pop. To me, most of those think pieces translate to "I don't like superhero movies and they need to go away, because they're bad and everyone should think they're bad because I think they're bad."

$187 million is nothing to scoff at, it's far from a disappointment, it's an excellent total for any movie. Even a sequel to a movie that perhaps over-performed! If anything, the fact that its opening gross is so close to the original film's opening gross and still gargantuan indicates to me that people are still on board RSS Marvel...

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