Marvel's Avengers Sink Universal's Battleship
By John Hamann
May 20, 2012
The Avengers now sits with an overall domestic gross of $457.1 million. It will likely earn $15 million from weekdays next week, and with the Memorial Day weekend on the horizon, The Avengers is almost guaranteed another successful weekend in the next frame. It will likely behave like Spider-Man did in 2002, keeping the percentage drop similar to where it was in the weekend previous. That means The Avengers could earn as much as $40 million next weekend. All told, this Disney release should be knocking on the door of $500 million by a week from Monday, or its 28th day. The record for the fastest film to $500 million is Avatar at 32 days, which will give The Avengers a couple of days to work with should it beat the record. While still early, I've got The Avengers topping out at about $575 million, enough to get it ahead of The Dark Knight's $533 million, but unfortunately not enough to take down Titanic ($600 million) or Avatar ($760.5 million). Opening weekends are a summer thing – James Cameron Legs are a Christmas thing. With $720 million earned overseas, The Avengers is now at $1.18 billion worldwide, which is #4 all-time. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is (probably) the last film it will pass, at $1.33 billion.
In second and wondering what the hell just happened is Battleship from Universal and Hasbro, the movie with a similar budget to the Avengers, but not the providence. Based on the old Hasbro game, the movie opened like it was Liam Neeson and Rihanna at a kitchen table playing the old game. But no, this was an effects-filled extravaganza for which Universal paid $209 million, They are left with an opening weekend of only $25.4 million (if you just said uh-oh you are bang on). Battleship opened at only 3,690 sites, a number 400 short of what was needed/expected, which likely means theatres were hesitant to give up their big rooms currently cashing in with The Avengers. Battleship had a venue average of $6,870 – to say that's not enough is a big understatement.
We've all heard how well this one has done overseas, as Battleship was released to foreign cinemas a number of weeks ahead of its North American debut. Overseas, it has already earned more than $215 million – so why did the Peter Berg film work better over there than here? Sure, The Avengers is out, but this is weekend three, and a film earning $50 million shouldn't get in the way of a blockbuster like this one. Over the May 28, 2004 weekend, Shrek 2 earned $72 million, while The Day After Tomorrow earned $68.7 million. I could listen to an argument about The Avengers, The Dictator, Dark Shadows and What to Expect When You're Expecting cutting in to Battleship's pie, as the cumulative gross of those movies is $90+ million, and all would have drawn from Battleship's "hoped for" audience.
Surprisingly, the Friday audience for Battleship was older, and Universal and Hasbro had expected the younger generation to show up. This is where the problem with Battleship is. By connecting it to a boardgame that no one plays, the audience is confused. Older audiences might be able to make the connection between the two, but why even set your movie up like that? The concept is ridiculous, and the studio would have found more success had they called it Alien Invasion or Memorial Day or something like that. Reading the synopsis also put me off in an instant, as this sounds like the same old, same old, just louder and more expensive. Critics agreed, and Battleship came in at only 36% fresh (29% from top critics). I will happily save my money for a trip to Moonrise Kingdom next weekend.