Box Office: ‘The Avengers’ cannot be stopped with another $29 million Friday

When Warner Bros. planted a stake on a May 11 opening date for Tim Burton’s “Dark Shadows” over a year ago, they had no idea what they’d be dealing with.  Yes, Paramount Pictures had slotted “The Dictator” on the same release date, but WB knew that eventually Paramount would blink and the Sacha Baron Cohen comedy would move off the date.  “Shadows,” of course, being the eighth collaboration between Burton and box office super star Johnny Depp. Moreover, their last film, “Alice in Wonderland,” grossed over $1 billion worldwide. Sure, Marvel Studios’ “The Avengers” was debuting the week before, but even six months ago most industry observers expected it to open closer to “Iron Man II’s” $128 million and then quickly fall off like a typical summer movie. As Hollywood is quickly learning, “The Avengers” is not your typical summer blockbuster.

Defying expectations, Joss Whedon’s superhero adventure grossed another $29 million on Friday giving the Walt Disney Company a gigantic $299 million in just eight days. It’s estimated that “The Avengers” could gross over $90 million in its second weekend blowing away “Avatar’s” $75.6 million record tally in 2009. The question isn’t whether “Avengers” will eventually cross the $400 million mark, but whether it can hit $500 million domestically. More intriguing, the picture should also pass the $1 billion mark globally this weekend. The film’s third weekend will provide more clues as to whether “The Avengers” can join “Avatar” and “Titanic” in the $2 billion global grossers club.  Any way you count it, however, moviegoer interest in “The Avengers” is remarkable.

That palpable love of Marvel’s hit is starting to have adverse affects on the rest of May’s releases.  “Battleship” and “Men in Black 3” are already polling under expectations and Friday “Dark Shadows” debuted with just $9.7 million for what could be a $26-28 million three-day cume. Polling actually had “Shadows” pegged at a $35-40 million opening so this has to be extremely disconcerting for Warner Bros. The studio may have to pin their hopes on International revenues to cover the film’s pricey $175 million plus price tag.

“Think Like A Man” was far behind in third with another $1.5 million and $77.1 million overall to date.

Look or complete box office estimates tomorrow on HitFix.

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