Friday Box Office Analysis
By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
May 12, 2012

I dunno...tearing apart the plane you're perched on seems short sighted.

The last time Tim Burton and Johnny Depp worked together on a project, it turned out to be a shocking box office story. Alice in Wonderland opened to $116 million, shattering the March record and becoming (at the time) the sixth biggest opener ever. This weekend, the powerful box office tandem reunited, but they were reduced to an afterthought as Earth’s mightiest heroes again crushed the competition.

We are yet unsure if The Avengers will maintain the mortal lock on holding #1 at the weekend box office that The Hunger Games managed for four weeks, but there was no real challenge this weekend. The Avengers earned $29.1 million yesterday, which is roughly double the rest of the top ten combined. In fact, The Avengers made more yesterday than five of the top ten (not counting new entry Dark Shadows) have made in their entire run so far. Big fish, meet little pond. Johnny Depp arose from the grave for nothing.

Let’s quickly flip through the staggering stats. Only four films have ever earned more than $70 million in their second weekends. Avatar is the current record holder with $75.6 million. Suffice to say that record will be torched. The Avengers skews young, which means its Saturday and Sunday will be great, just as was the case last weekend. Because it’s a film that appeals to families and repeat viewers, a minimal drop on Saturday followed by a more reasonable drop on Sunday is to be expected. With a 3.3 multiplier (slightly less than Spider-Man 3.59 back in 2002, an eon ago in box office behavior), The Avengers will wind up with a second weekend of $95.7 million, setting the second-weekend record by more than $20 million. It also has an outside chance to become the first $100 million second weekend, and that outside chance turns to inside if its Saturday and Sunday holdover is as scintillating as it was last week.

We are projecting that The Avengers surpasses Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’s $93.7 million, which would make this one of the 25 biggest openings of all-time…in its second weekend. Finally, The Avengers missed the $300 million mark by $300,000 yesterday. This is important in that it will cross the mark on its ninth day in theaters, breaking The Dark Knight’s record of ten days. Since Friday is an estimate, that number may change to eight days when official weekend numbers are in.

The combination of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp is ordinarily the box office story of the weekend. Their latest goth outing, Dark Shadows, possesses none of the magic of Alice in Wonderland, though. Its $9.7 million Friday reflects this fact. Consider that Alice in Wonderland didn’t earn that little until on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday until its fourth weekend in theaters. Still, nobody was jonesing for a Dark Shadows cinematic adaptation like this one. A 1991 TV series remake started off with a bang, but it died quickly after two months, while the WB also tried to get one off the ground, but failed.

For a $150 million production, this result for Dark Shadows is horrible. It’s going to have to hope that overseas revenues get it where it needs to be to make a profit – and Depp is so popular, that might actually happen. Still, it’s important to keep in mind that had anyone other than Depp and Burton done this project, it would have been lucky to get wide release. It’s purely the strength of their partnership that got it a nearly $10 million Friday in the first place.