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Can Any Upcoming Movie Beat The Avengers Box Office Record?

You want to hear something amazing? Thor, which kicked off the Summer 2011 season, earned a grand total of $181 million domestically. Captain America: The First Avenger, which came out later that summer, grossed $176.6M domestically.

By grabbing an estimated $200.3M in its opening weekend, Joss Whedon’s The Avengers needed only three days (well, and one round of midnight showings) to surpass its immediate Marvel predecessors. They truly were the appetizers to Whedon’s main course, a blistering blockbuster that shattered numerous box-office records with its massive domestic haul, including highest all-time weekend record (beating the $169.2M earned by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2), and highest grosses for a Saturday ($69.7M) and a Sunday ($50.1M).

So it’s going to be years before we see another $200M weekend, right?

Well, maybe just weeks. Looking ahead to the rest of Summer 2012, I see only one film that possibly could post Avengers level numbers in opening weekend … and it ain’t Battleship. Yes, Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises, which opens on July 20, has a chance (albeit very, very slim) of topping $200M in its opening weekend. Anticipation, obviously, is through the roof on TDKR as Nolan concludes his trilogy, and The Dark Knight opened to $158.4M in 2008 before topping off at $533.3M. The third installment of Nolan’s trilogy could get there … though I’m guessing it doesn’t.

What else? The Amazing Spider-Man (July 3) could be big, but probably not this big. The Twilight conclusion, scheduled for Nov. 16? Eh, Breaking Dawn: Part 1 opened to $138M, and I expect part two to do about the same.

Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit has a strong chance of besting The Avengers’ record-setting weekend number when it reaches theaters on Dec. 14. Jackson’s releasing his film in 3D (Nolan isn’t), and the Lord of the Rings trilogy has a massive, loyal following, though its odds shift considerably if Jackson delivers a three-hour product.

But to truly find a worthy successor to The Avengers’ newly-minted crown, I’m wondering if we have to look ahead to the first blockbusters out of the gate for Summers 2013 and ’14, respectively.

It’s my belief that the first movies of the summer season benefit from the bump that comes with added marketing, a less-crowded marketplace, and a summer-blockbuster crowd that has been “starving” for weeks and is ready to plunk down cash – on opening weekend – for the best effects money can buy. Last year, Fast Five and Thor enjoyed that bump. It could help the summer-season openers in subsequent years.

That means I’m banking on Shane Black’s Iron Man 3 (May 3, 2013) and Sony’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (May 2, 2014) as the ones who might match this weekend’s record-setting haul.

Iron Man 3 will be the first Marvel movie in theaters since The Avengers, and a hungry comic-book crowd could turn out in droves to support Robert Downey Jr. in his next adventure. As for Spidey, if Marc Webb’s first Spider-Man completely reinvents the wheel in a way that has fans cheering, the sequel could be as anticipated as they come. Also, Webb might nail an ideal villain, giving Spidey 2 a leg up.

But – and here’s where we shoot holes in the thesis – we haven’t even seen The Amazing Spider-Man yet, and the previous two Iron Man movies opened to $98.6M and $128.1M respectively. I don’t see either getting to $200M on opening weekend just yet.

So, in conclusion, I think the impressive record set by The Avengers holds for a while … at least until The Avengers 2 comes out. Or until James Cameron puts another Avatar into theaters. Whichever comes first.

Sean O'Connell
Sean O'Connell

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. He's frequently found on Twitter at @Sean_OConnell. ReelBlend cohost. A movie junkie who's Infatuated with comic-book films. Helped get the Snyder Cut released, then wrote a book about it.