May 4-6 Weekend Actuals

1. Marvel’s The Avengers (Disney) NEW [4,349 Theaters] PG13
Friday $80.8M, Saturday $69.6M, Sunday $57.1M, Weekend $207.4M, Global $640M

2. Think Like A Man (Screen Gems/Sony) Week 3 [2,010 Theaters] PG13
Friday $2.7M, Saturday $3.3M, Sunday $2.1M, Weekend $8.1M (-54%), Cume $73.1M

3. The Hunger Games (Lionsgate) Week 7 [2,794 Theaters] PG13
Friday $1.6M, Saturday $2.4M, Sunday $1.5M, Weekend $5.6M (-48%), Cume $380.6M

4. Pirates! Band of Misfits 3D (Aardman/Sony) Week 2 [3,358 Theaters] PG
Friday $1.3M, Saturday $2.5M, Sunday $1.7M, Weekend $5.5M (-51%), Cume $18.7M

5. The Lucky One (Warner Bros) Week 3 [3,005 Theaters] PG13
Friday $1.9M, Saturday $2.2M, Sunday $1.2M, Weekend $5.4M (-50%), Cume $47.8M

6. The Five-Year Engagement (Universal) Week 2 [2,941 Theaters] R
Friday $1.7M, Saturday $2.0M, Sunday $1.3M, Weekend $5.0M (-53%), Cume $19.1M

7. Safe (Lionsgate) Week 2 [2,271 Theaters] R
Friday $846K, Saturday $1.0M, Sunday $827K, Weekend $2.7M (-66%), Cume $13.0M

8. The Raven (Relativity) Week 2 [2,209 Theaters] R
Friday $850K, Saturday $1.0M, Sunday $739K Weekend $2.6M (-64%), Cume $12.2M

9. Chimpanzee (Disneynature) Week 3 [1,531 Theaters] G
Friday $703K, Saturday $1.0M, Sunday $777K, Weekend $2.5M (-53%), Cume $23.1M

10. The Three Stooges (Fox) Week 4 [2,174 Theaters] PG
Friday $478K, Saturday $800K, Sunday $554K, Weekend $1.8M (-65%), Cume $39.7M

Avengers Box Office

SUNDAY AM… REFRESH FOR LATEST… It’s now official — Marvel’s The Avengers is a monster worldwide hit for Disney in 2D, Digital 3D, RealD, and IMAX 3D theaters. The studio says 52% saw it in 3D, 40% in traditional 3D, 8% in IMAX, and 4% on premium large format. Exit polls showed the actioner attracted a four-quadrant audience with 50% over age 25 and 50% under 25, while 60% were male and 40% female. Also 55% were couples, 24% families, and 21% teens. Hollywood couldn’t be happier because it kicks off the all-important Summer 2012 movie season with sensational numbers. Avengers lived up to its billing as the ‘Superhero Team-Up Of A Lifetime’ by featuring all-in-one pic the iconic Marvel figures Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye, Black Widow, and Nick Fury. Disney says it’s looking Avengers Box Office Predictionsat a record $69.7M grosses for Saturday after making $80.5M Friday (including $18.7M midnights) from 4,349 U.S. and Canadian locations, including 3,364 plays in 3D. Studio confirms it’s on track to shatter the domestic weekend opening record with $200.3M. (Warner Bros’ 3D Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 finale used to hold that record with $169M.) I believe Disney is being overly conservative and the final figure will exceed that since Avengers should make over $50M on Sunday. (And I thought SNL Kagan’s reportpredicting that $200M domestic debut before the weekend was nuts. Not now…) Disney reports international gross is now $441.5M. The worldwide total is already $641.8M after playing almost everywhere around the globe for the past 12 days including Friday in Russia ($17.9M) and Saturday in China ($17.4M). Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye) went to the Beijing Film Festival to help open the film Saturday. One more thing to keep in mind: Avengers accumulated a massive foreign number without opening yet in the major market of Japan. Globally, IMAX Avengers grossed $21.1+M this weekend and the global IMAX cume will be approx $31.2M as of Sunday night. IMAX Avengers brought in $6.1 mil internationally (which includes an amazing first day gross in China of $1.1M) on 174 digital-only locations. In North America IMAX had one big issue: it ran out of seats to sell. Avengers grossed $15+M domestically on 275 digital-only IMAX screens, which looks to be a virtual tie with the Harry Potter finale for the highest grossing opening weekend in IMAX’s history. It reports 17 of the top 20 engagements in North America playing the film were IMAX runs, and 110 domestic IMAX locations established a new opening Saturday record. The global pressure was on because Avengers is the first Marvel Studios film from The Walt Disney Studios which took over marketing and distribution duties from Paramount. Disney CEO/President Bob Iger bought the comics entertainment company for $4 billion in 2009. Paramount still gets marquee credit and a portion of the fees. (I’m told that when Disney bought the distribution of Avengers and Iron Man 3, Paramount was paid a minimum of $115M. It gets the higher of the $115M or the combination of its 8% fee on Avengers, plus 9% on next years Iron Man 3. “Looks like there will be overages!” a Paramount exec told me excitedly Sunday. Paramount also kept the pay rights as part of the deal so Avengers will debut on Epix.) Why did this superhero actioner do so well at the box office? As one of my commenters succinctly summarizes: “Note to Hollywood: This is what happens when you let comic fans do comic book movies. Joss Whedon knocked it out of the park. The right mix of humor without camp, special effects without overusage, and action with good script. Having actors who like and/or know the characters doesn’t hurt either. Props to the casting folks.” More details below.

No other major pic dared go up against this juggernaut. Holdovers only total $45M this weekend which is looking like $230M – or +38% over last year. Here’s the Top 10 (based on weekend estimates):

1. Marvel’s The Avengers (Disney) NEW [4,349 Theaters] PG13
Friday $80.5M, Saturday $69.7M, Weekend $200M, Global $640M

2. Think Like A Man (Screen Gems/Sony) Week 3 [2,010 Theaters] PG13
Friday $2.6M, Saturday $3.3M, Weekend $8.0M, Cume $73.0M

3. The Hunger Games (Lionsgate) Week 7 [2,794 Theaters] PG13
Friday $1.6M, Saturday $2.6M, Weekend $5.7M, Cume $380.7M

4. Pirates! Band of Misfits 3D (Aardman/Sony) Week 2 [3,358 Theaters] PG
Friday $1.3M, Saturday $2.4M, Weekend $5.4M (-51%), Cume $18.3M

5. The Lucky One (Warner Bros) Week 3 [3,005 Theaters] PG13
Friday $1.9M, Saturday $2.3M, Weekend $5.4M, Cume $47.8M

6. The Five-Year Engagement (Universal) Week 2 [2,941 Theaters] R
Friday $1.7M, Saturday $2.2M, Weekend $5.2M, Cume $19.3M

7. The Raven (Relativity) Week 2 [2,209 Theaters] R
Friday $844K (-62%), Saturday $1.1M, Weekend $2.6M, Cume $12.1M

8. Safe (Lionsgate) Week 2 [2,271 Theaters] R
Friday $825K (-66%), Saturday $1.0M, Weekend $2.5M, Cume $12.9M

9. Chimpanzee (Disneynature) Week 3 [1,531 Theaters] PG
Friday $707K, Saturday $975K, Weekend $2.3M, Cume $22.9M

10. The Three Stooges (Fox) Week 4 [2,174 Theaters] PG
Friday $480K, Saturday $850K, Weekend $1.8M, Cume $39.6M

FRIDAY PM/SATURDAY AM: What a sensational Summer 2012 kick-off! The first weekend of May is one of the most lucrative release dates each year, especially for Marvel comic book adaptations. And Disney is reporting stronger North American box office for Marvel’s The Avengers in Digital 3D, RealD and IMAX 3D than it dared to hope and even rival studios thought possible. The Friday opening number is now $80.5 million because late shows were coming on strong for the 2nd biggest single day gross and Friday opening of all time in box office history. That includes a whopping $18.7M midnights – or more than Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America combined. In terms of records, it was the 8th biggest midnights opening, and the biggest superhero midnights debut. IMAX reported $1.31M from midnights playing at 273 locations for a record digital-only release and a sell-out across the board. Now Disney says the domestic total is on pace for a record-setting $175M through Sunday from 4,349 U.S. and Canadian locations, including 3,364 plays in 3D. This would make it the all-time biggest domestic weekend opening ever. (Past Warner Bros’ 3D Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 which still holds the Friday opening record of $91M but no longer the first weekend record of $169M.)  Disney also just updated the international gross to $334.3M after adding another $30M Friday. That would make the worldwide total at least $575M through Sunday with this weekend’s addition of China, Russia, and of course North America. And, just to rub it in to rival studios, the well-reviewed Avengers also received a rare ‘A+’ CinemaScore from American audiences. Hollywood now is congratulating the filmmakers. ”Freakin’ phenomenal,” one Hollywood studio mogul phoned me Friday night. ”It has a real shot at the record,” another movie boss emailed me. The Avengers was promoted as “The Super Hero Team Up Of A Lifetime” The film stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård, and Samuel L. Jackson. It’s based on the Marvel comic book series “The Avengers” first published in 1963. Here’s what a phenom this movie is: I learned that the AMC theater chain sold so many Avengers tickets Friday that its entire credit card processing system was delayed so moviegoers couldn’t charge the pic or concession snacks right away. This, after AMC announced it made $4M from the pic overnight. More details below.

Related: Marvel Has Big Plans For The Hulk As Hero

FRIDAY 7:45 PM… Rival studios tell me they expect Marvel’s The Avengers from Disney to open to $67M (within a range of $60M and $70M) today and around $160M (within a range of $157M-$165M) its first weekend in North America. No records going down yet. More later.

FRIDAY 12:45 PM… My sources are giving very early estimates for Marvel’s The Avengers of between $65 million and $67 million for Friday (including $18.7M midnights) based on matinee trends. Not a record. That would bring the worldwide total to $371 million so far… and counting. More later.

FRIDAY 8 AM: Disney reports that the worldwide cumulative for Marvel’s The Avengers is now $322.7 million, including $304M internationally as Russia and China debut. The U.S./Canada grosses are just getting going and expectedly did not set a record for midnight openings. But The Avengers in Digital 3D, RealD and IMAX 3D still made a gargantuan $18.7 million from about 2,500 North American theaters, or more than Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America combined. In terms of records, it’s the 8th biggest midnights opening, and the biggest superhero midnights debut, with the rest Twilight Saga or Harry Potter franchise films or The Hunger Games. IMAX reports $1.31M from midnights playing at 273 locations. It’s a record digital-only release (vs The Hunger Games‘ $1.22M) and a sell-out across the board. ”IMAX could not sell any more seats last night,” an IMAX rep tells me. The overall midnights record is $43.5M by Warner Bros’ Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 which also holds the Friday opening record of $91M.

FRIDAY 12:01 AM EXCLUSIVE… Disney began releasing Marvel’s The Avengers in Digital 3D, RealD and IMAX 3D after midnight into about 2,500 locations around the U.S. and Canada after first playing filmmaker Joss Whedon’s pic overseas for the past week. “It’s tracking off the charts. Biggest in every category and with everyone — men, women, young, old. Any way you slice it and dice it. It’s just a mega-movie,” one rival studio mogul gushed to me Thursday night. And exhibitors hoping for record box office results are trying to accomodate all the crowds lining up for hours (photo above, Miami) for their first look at this rave-reviewed PG-13 superhero spectacle that’s earned $300+M internationally already. Major theater chains are adding shows from 12:01 AM into the wee hours. ”In an effort to handle the mass demand Regal will be adding additional AM shows at many theatres nationally,” Regal announced. At the AMC Empire Theatre in Manhattan,  The Avengers was planning to show on 21 screens at 12:01 AM with contingency plans to play it on all 25 screens if needed. Turns out those extra screens were needed – and most of the moviegoers have on their RealD Avengers collector 3D glasses. Many moviegoers bought advance tickets for the ‘Ultimate Marvel Marathon’ – screenings of the Marvel Studios’ movies Iron Man, Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America leading up to the midnight release of The Avengers. The event sold out in several major U.S. and Canadian markets more than a month ago.

The first guest on NYC’s IMAX line had been there since 8:39 AM Thursday. The 12:01 IMAX show sold out weeks ago, and less than 100 seats remained for the 3:30 AM show. At the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, “round the clock” screenings of the 143-minute movie are skedded with breakfast served at 2:30 AM. Exclusive limited print run comic books are on hand for guests at the 4 AM showing. People started lining up for the midnight show at 9 PM (even though almost everyone had purchased a reserved seat). Groups of people came together as all the different Avengers. Clark Gregg came to introduce the movie.

Avengers Box Office EstimatesThe U.S. debut follows the incredible success of The Avengers overseas in 41 countries with grosses totalling  $281.1 million through its first eight days in theaters (photo right, Seoul). This weekend adds Russia and China where 3D actioners do incredibly well. In the U.S. no other big movie dared to open Friday against this mega-blockbuster which could speed anywhere past $160M during its first 3 days of release through Sunday. The first weekend of May is one of the most lucrative release dates each year, especially for Marvel comic book adaptations. (The first Spider-Man movie in 2002 set a new opening weekend record on this date as did Spider-Man 3 in 2007.) Now the only question is how big is big – and whether The Avengers will top Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2‘s current record of $169.2M because of ticket price inflation and 3D premiums.

Disney and Marvel Studios successfully marketed filmmaker Joss Whedon’s actioner as “The Super Hero Team Up Of A Lifetime” because it featured iconic Marvel figures Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye, Black Widow, and Nick Fury. The film stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård, and Samuel L. Jackson. It’s based on the ever-popular Marvel comic book series “The Avengers,” first published in 1963. The film is produced by Marvel Studios’ President Kevin Feige and executive produced by Alan Fine, Jon Favreau, Stan Lee, Louis D’Esposito, Patricia Whitcher, Victoria Alonso and Jeremy Latcham. The story is by Zak Penn and Joss Whedon and the screenplay is by Whedon who also directed.

Pre-sales were gargantuan with Fandango reporting soaring ticket sales and more than 1,000 showtimes sold out in advance of the midnight opening. ”The Avengers is on track to become one of Fandango’s top ticket-sellers of the year, representing 95% of Thursday’s sales.” The superhero ensemble movie is also outperforming all previous Marvel titles, including all Spider-Man movies and Avengers-related films at the same point in the sales cycle. On top of that, The Avengers is outpacing last summer’s action blockbuster Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon at the same point in that film’s sales cycle. According to a recent Fandango survey, The Avengers is the most anticipated film of this summer, with 66% of fans planning to see it more than once on the big screen. MovieTickets.com reported back on April 26th that The Avengers has pre-sold over 1.5 times more tickets than Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America combined. It topped Fandango’s “Most Anticipated Summer Movie” survey as #1 movie for men, #2 movie for women, #1 movie for 3D, and most anticipated ensemble cast.

Though extremely big, Disney’s theatre count isn’t the all-time list of widest openings at the box office. It’s #7. (No. 1 is June 2010′s The Twilight Saga: Eclipse which released into 4,468 theaters.) The Avengers will open in 275 theatres, or more than half of the IMAX 3D format in 451 digital theatres worldwide. More IMAX territories are launching in tandem with the North American release this week, including China. Domestic IMAX pre-sales are also strong and significantly ahead of any previous Marvel releases.

In-theater promotion kicked off back in July 2011 with a teaser end-tag attached to Captain America: The First Avenger, with a simultaneous teaser print debut featuring the iconic “A” branding and “Assemble” call to action. Theatrical trailers appeared with some of the past year’s biggest hits including Mission Impossible 4, 21 Jump Street, The Hunger Games, and more. Trailers for Marvel’s The Avengers broke iTunes records twice for the most viewed trailer in a 24-hour period – first in October 2011 with 10.6M views (breaking Transformers 3 record by 40%) and again in February 2012 with 13.7M views, which continues to stand as most viewed trailer online to-date. The Avengers was the #1 rated movie advertisement of the Super Bowl 2012 broadcast and earned the highest number of online mentions among all the big game’s ads. The world premiere at Disney’s El Capitan in Los Angeles on April 11 (featuring YouTube’s livestream of Red Carpet arrivals) kicked off the film’s global talent and filmmaker publicity tour, including premieres, special screenings and press across key markets including Moscow, UK, Italy, Germany, China (Beijing Int’l Film Festival), and Brazil, plus the closing night of NYC’s Tribeca Film Festival.

Besides the usual plethora of magazine covers and TV appearances, Facebook fan screenings in 10 major U.S. cities were held on April 14th, plus 14 international markets. There was unprecedented Apple partnership including homepage takeovers, desktop client, CRM eblasts, countdown messaging, social media, mobile, and Apple TV promotion. The Avengers Alliance social game integration featured its first-ever TV spot debut, used as an incentive to earn additional digital rewards (with over 4M players in 30 days). Widespread promotional and retail partnerships were sold (TV, online, in-pack, in-store, and out-of-home) with Acura, Dr. Pepper, Hershey’s, Farmer’s Insurance Red Baron, Target, and others.

EXCLUSIVE, WEDNESDAY: My sources estimate the global juggernaut that is Marvel’s The Avengers from Disney could close in on $160M when it opens in North America this weekend and $425M when it debuts in Russia and China for a possible total near $585M through Sunday. Even very conservative estimates put the worldwide total at $500M through Sunday when Joss Whedon’s actioner will be open in every movie territory except Japan. “May Day holiday gave them huge lift so will definitely get to $500 million this weekend,” a rival studio exec tells me today. “Probably closer to $550M.” The Avengers made $42.3M overseas from 41 territories, bringing the total through Tuesday to $260.5M.

In an April survey on Fandango, the majority of moviegoers picked The Avengers as the most anticipated film of the summer. Some 66% of fans said they plan to see the pic on the big screen more than once. About 31% chose Iron Man as the film’s biggest draw, followed by The Hulk (23%); Thor (15%), and Captain America (12%). And 52% said Black Widow is the next Avengers character they’d like to see in a solo vehicle, followed by 35% for Hawkeye, and 13% for Nick Fury.

Overseas, Thailand & Singapore opened yesterday on their National Labor Day holiday and set not only the highest opening day in industry history, but also the highest grossing single day of all-time. New cumes to date include UK $29.8M, Mexico $27.0M, Australia $22.6M, France $19.7M, Brazil $18.8M.

For more estimates listed by title, see box office results here...

Editor-in-Chief Nikki Finke - tip her here.

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