Shop Talk: The Avengers/The Dark Knight Rises

By David Mumpower

May 30, 2012

I believe a kid tornado just hit.

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Day 26 of The Avengers finds the movie in a position that still sounds strange. It is only the second most popular movie in North America. For the fifth consecutive day, Men in Black 3 has bested its more storied competitor. While the percentage gap between the two titles is shrinking, the reality is that Men in Black 3 earned $5.65 million yesterday, over $2 million better than The Avengers managed at $3.27 million. In short, The Avengers will not be finishing in first place any time before Friday. And with Snow White and the Huntsman tracking better than expected, it is safe to say that The Avengers has finished its run as the top choice at the domestic box office. This is a great opportunity to reflect on what has transpired as well as update our previous conversations and address the elephant in the living room, the one in the Batsuit.

Quickly, let’s re-examine The Avengers. In last week’s conversation, I mentioned a pair of delimiters for determining the performance of the movie over the Memorial Day holiday period. The numbers I used were $46 million for the Friday-to-Monday period and a running total of $520 million after 25 days in release. Yet again, The Avengers exceeded expectations.

A weekend total of $36.7 million followed by a Memorial Day take of $10.5 million combined for a four-day tally of $47.2 million, 2.6% better than expected. As such, its 25-day total was $523.9 million, $3.9 million above the range modeling indicated was needed to attain $600 million before it finishes its run. As such, The Avengers looks to surpass Titanic to become the second best domestic performer of all time during its initial run. Titanic’s overall take of $658.6 million is out of reach (barring something unforeseen), but that is a splitting of hairs when the revenue totals are this significant.

In addition, Titanic was a one and done franchise that offered few opportunities for ancillary revenue. With regards to The Avengers, there is a snowball aspect to its popularity. The spectacular triumph at the box office secures the short term box office potential of all the major characters involved (Thor, Captain America and Iron Man) plus affords feature film opportunities to the other major players (Black Widow, Hawkeye and Nick Fury).


In point of fact, the entire Marvel universe is now in play with regards to future movie development. As such, The Avengers has ripple effects enough to make it the movie equivalent of The Butterfly Effect. Everything regarding Marvel has been fundamentally changed by the explosive popularity of The Avengers.

In August of 2009, Disney purchased Marvel for $4 billion in a deal that many people believed was a dangerous financial risk. At this moment, it appears to be the company’s strongest acquisition since ESPN, even above Pixar. BOP has oftentimes chronicled the importance of Cars in terms of toy merchandising. Cars toys have generated over $6 billion of revenue since the original movie’s release in 2006. Ownership of Marvel allows Disney to double down in terms of toy sales revenue.

To wit, take a look at the picture at the top of the column. This is what we found when my wife wanted to purchase an Avengers Lego set last weekend. Amusingly, the entire adjoining wall of Battleship merchandise was wholly untouched. Merchandise licensing is the driving force in tentpole motion picture development and The Avengers has simply eviscerated the competition in this regard.

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