Weekend Box Office (May 11 - 13, 2012)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Still grossing far more than all other movies combined in its second weekend, the mighty super hero megahit The Avengers easily held onto its crown at the North American box office while the worldwide tally smashed the $1 billion mark in a mere 19 days with plenty of worldwide fuel still in the tank. Johnny Depp's latest eccentric offering Dark Shadows opened in second place as expected but with a smaller audience than had been anticipated while many holdovers enjoyed small declines.

Disney and Marvel celebrated another weekend of sheer dominance as The Avengers followed its record-shattering opening frame with a very good hold dropping 50% to an astounding $103.1M, according to final studio figures. That easily broke the record for the best sophomore weekend gross of all-time for any movie in history. Avatar - another big-budget 3D action title - held that record with $75.6M over the Christmas holiday session in 2009 while 2008's The Dark Knight did almost as much with $75.2M in its second round four summers ago from its 2D-only release.

After just ten days of domestic play, the S.H.I.E.L.D. team has amassed a jaw-dropping $373.1M - the best ten-day start ever beating Knight's $313.8M. However, if four years of 2D ticket price increases and 3D surcharges are factored out, the Caped Crusader actually sold more tickets during this span. Still, Avengers also broke the $300M and $350M barriers in record time (nine and ten days, respectively) beating the previous industry titleholder Dark Knight which needed ten days to hit the triple-century mark and 14 days to surpass $350M. The Joker flick also holds the $400M speed record doing it in 18 days but that milestone should also be crushed by Avengers which will do the deed in 13 or 14 days.

Nick Fury and his team have quickly zoomed up the list of all-time-domestic blockbusters reaching number 18 after just ten days of release. Given the positive audience buzz, the upcoming Memorial Day holiday, and the fact that college students will quickly be going on summer vacation over the coming week, The Avengers is on track to beat The Dark Knight to become the third largest domestic grosser of all-time trailing only Avatar and Titanic. A final tally of at least $575M and possibly $600M seems likely with 3D and IMAX, of course, helping the grosses out. The second weekend drop of 50% was quite impressive given how much business was absorbed over the first weekend. Even Knight fell harder declining by 53% in its second round.

Overseas, where the super hero value pack was in its third weekend of play, another $95.4M was pulled in from 54 territories boosting the international cume to a scorching $628.9M. Add in North America and the global total after 19 days in theaters (with the U.S. open for just ten of those) broke the billion dollar milestone with $1.002 billion. Leading market cumes are $65.7M in the U.K., $52.3M in China, $49.6M in Mexico, and $44.6M in Brazil - four countries that speak four different languages. Avatar actually grossed slightly more in its first 19 days with $1.022 billion although it played domestically that entire span. The current trajectory has the Marvel juggernaut going to $1.4 billion and beyond which would be enough to beat Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 to become number three all-time worldwide following the James Cameron double feature.

The seven films featuring Iron Man, The Hulk, Captain America, and Thor have now grossed a staggering $3.5 billion worldwide and counting. Fans will continue to have more adventures with their favorite heroes. Next year will see Iron Man 3 open on May 3 and Thor 2 bow on November 15. The sequel to Captain America lands on April 4, 2014 and another Avengers installment is confirmed to be in development.

Johnny Depp and Tim Burton's latest cinematic concoction Dark Shadows debuted in second place with somewhat unimpressive figures grossing $29.7M. Averaging $7,906 from a very wide 3,755 theaters, the PG-13 remake of the cult classic 1960s TV series played to an adult female crowd and had trouble attracting interest from other groups. Studio research showed that 57% of the crowd was female while an incredibly high 73% was over the age of 25. The pricey Warner Bros. release struggled with critics and audiences alike. Reviews were mixed with many top critics giving bad marks while the CinemaScore grade from paying moviegoers was a disappointing B-.

With a brand that had a limited built-in audience and intense competition from Avengers which has been pleasing every audience segment immensely, Shadows found it difficult to establish itself as a worthy option. The road ahead looks tough too. Overseas, Dark Shadows launched this weekend in 42 markets and grossed an estimated $37.3M which Warner Bros. reported was just 6% behind the international debuts for 2005's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Dropping to third place, Sony's hit relationship comedy Think Like a Man fell only 28% to $5.8M boosting the robust cume to $81.4M. Lionsgate followed with its juggernaut The Hunger Games which grossed $4.5M, down only 19%, for a towering $387M total after its eighth frame.

Zac Efron kept bringing in the ladies with his romance hit The Lucky One which dipped only 24% to $4.1M while the 3D kidpic The Pirates! declined by 43% to $3.1M. Totals stand at $53.8M and $23M, respectively. Universal's comedy The Five-Year Engagement was in between with $3.3M, off 34%, and a $24.6M sum to date.

The indie hit The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel expanded into several new major markets and jumped into the top ten at number eight with $2.7M from 178 locations for a solid $15,012 average. The PG-13 film starring Judi Dench has earned good reviews and is playing as counter-programming for an older audience not interested in super heroes or vampire hunks. With $3.7M so far, Fox Searchlight will widen the film again this Friday.

The nature doc Chimpanzee placed ninth dropping 29% to $1.8M for Disney lifting the cume to $25.7M. Rounding out the top ten was Jason Statham's Safe with $1.4M, down 46%, for a $15.7M take for Lionsgate.

The mother-daughter comedy Girl in Progress bowed to $1.4M from 322 sites for a mild $4,298 average missing the top ten by a hair. Starring Eva Mendes, the PG-13 film attracted weak reviews and targeted the Latina audience with research showing that the crowd was 70% female and 57% over 25 with a respectable B+ grade from ticket buyers polled by CinemaScore. Lionsgate correctly estimated and enjoyed a healthy jump from Saturday to Sunday for Mother's Day as sales increased by 20%.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $159.5M which was up 26% from last year when Thor remained at number one with $34.7M; and up 23% from 2010 when Iron Man 2 stayed on top with $52M.

Compared to projections, The Avengers scaled a bit higher than my $98M forecast while Dark Shadows debuted below my $38M prediction.

Get earlier box office updates and analysis by following BoxOfficeGuru.com on Twitter.

For NEW reviews of The Dictator and Dark Shadows visit The Chief Report.

Watch the trailer for The Dark Knight Rises.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend Battleship and The Dictator both open wide.

# Title May 11 - 13 May 4 - 6 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 The Avengers $ 103,052,274 $ 207,438,708 -50.3 4,349 2 $ 23,696 $ 373,071,647 Disney
2 Dark Shadows 29,685,274 3,755 1 7,906 29,685,274 Warner Bros.
3 Think Like a Man 5,816,108 8,106,166 -28.3 2,052 4 2,834 81,432,840 Sony
4 The Hunger Games 4,505,362 5,587,661 -19.4 2,531 8 1,780 387,007,048 Lionsgate
5 The Lucky One 4,107,492 5,368,115 -23.5 2,839 4 1,447 53,788,233 Warner Bros.
6 The Five-Year Engagement 3,314,010 5,029,110 -34.1 2,569 3 1,290 24,623,420 Universal
7 The Pirates! Band of Misfits 3,143,442 5,502,482 -42.9 3,079 3 1,021 23,047,000 Sony
8 The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel 2,672,140 737,051 262.5 178 2 15,012 3,744,656 Fox Searchlight
9 Chimpanzee 1,755,507 2,484,456 -29.3 1,559 4 1,126 25,717,478 Disney
10 Safe 1,447,174 2,677,125 -45.9 1,690 3 856 15,717,429 Lionsgate
11 Girl in Progress 1,384,078 322 1 4,298 1,384,078 Lionsgate
12 The Raven 1,378,847 2,636,780 -47.7 1,888 3 730 14,723,775 Relativity
13 The Three Stooges 1,078,339 1,832,233 -41.1 1,416 6 762 41,153,769 Fox
14 The Cabin in the Woods 971,465 1,564,805 -37.9 1,029 5 944 39,753,912 Lionsgate
15 John Carter 766,217 1,494,367 -48.7 230 10 3,331 71,726,762 Disney
16 21 Jump Street 645,109 1,081,100 -40.3 589 9 1,095 135,117,543 Sony
17 Mirror Mirror 599,617 746,247 -19.6 607 7 988 60,993,886 Relativity
18 American Reunion 432,430 817,470 -47.1 521 6 830 56,050,170 Universal
19 The Lorax 432,245 427,220 1.2 455 11 950 209,591,935 Universal
20 Journey 2: The Mysterious Island 236,134 287,017 -17.7 260 14 908 102,581,334 Warner Bros.
Top 5 $ 147,166,510 $ 232,003,132 -36.6
Top 10 159,498,783 246,662,836 -35.3
Top 20 167,423,264 254,643,637 -34.3
Top 20 vs. 2011 167,423,264 133,866,624 25.1

Last Updated: May 14, 2012 at 10:40PM ET

Watch Gitesh Pandya's weekly box office preview on CNN International airing live each Thursday at 7:40pm ET.