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‘Avengers’ Is No. 1, Becomes Disney’s Highest-Grossing Movie

‘Avengers’ Proves Marvel ‘Far Exceeds’ Iger’s $4.2 Billion Cost
Scarlett Johansson stars in The Avengers, in this undated photo released on May 3, 2012. Source: Zade Rosenthal/Marvel via Bloomberg

“Marvel’s The Avengers” was the No. 1 movie at theaters in the U.S. and Canada for a third straight weekend, taking in $55.6 million for Walt Disney Co., and making it the studio’s highest-grossing film ever.

“Battleship” was second with sales of $25.5 million, researcher Box-Office said today in an e-mailed statement. Sacha Baron Cohen’s “The Dictator” opened in third place with $17.4 million and “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” was fifth in its debut with $10.5 million.

“The Avengers” is benefiting from positive word-of-mouth among moviegoers after Disney’s major marketing push ended, Paul Dergarabedian, president of’s box-office unit, said in an interview. Since its first weekend, the movie has overcome challenges from two major releases, “Battleship,” from Comcast Corp.’s Universal Pictures, and Warner Bros.’s “Dark Shadows.”

“Great marketing can buy you a big opening weekend, but only a crowd-pleasing and solid movie can get you to where ‘The Avengers’ has gone,” Dergarabedian said in an interview.

“The Avengers” opened over the weekend of May 4 with a record $207.4 million in sales and set another record a week later with $103.1 million, the most ever for a film in its second weekend. It has become the highest-grossing film in Disney’s history with $1.18 billion in global sales, surpassing “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest,” which had $1.07 billion in worldwide sales, according to


“The Avengers,” made for $220 million, has helped generate a 16 percent increase in 2012 domestic sales, said. Attendance is up 18 percent this year.

In the film, a collection of Marvel heroes, including Iron Man, the Norse god Thor and The Hulk, band together to fight an army of aliens led by Loki, also a character from Norse mythology. The movie stars Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Chris Hemsworth as Thor and Mark Ruffalo as The Hulk.

“Battleship” missed projections and may lose as much as $150 million for Universal, according to Matthew Harrigan, an analyst with Wunderlich Securities in Denver. Kori Bernards, a Universal Pictures spokeswoman, said the studio had no comment.

The movie stars Taylor Kitsch as a U.S. Navy officer who helps lead a sea battle against invading aliens. Brooklyn Decker, Alexander Skarsgard and Rihanna also are featured. The film, made for about $209 million, according to tracker Box Office Mojo. It has taken in $226.8 million in overseas sales, according to Rentrak Corp., another industry researcher.

‘Dark Shadows’

“The Dictator,” from Viacom Inc.’s Paramount Pictures, features Cohen as the oppressive, all-powerful ruler of a North African nation who is replaced by an impostor during a visit to the U.S. Penniless, he is forced to adjust to life in New York City among poor immigrants, some of them exiles from his country. Ben Kingsley co-stars.

“Dark Shadows” fell to fourth from second with $12.6 million. The film, starring Johnny Depp and directed by Tim Burton, is inspired by the 1960s daytime TV show about a New England family entangled with vampires, ghosts and werewolves.

“What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” based on the advice book, features an ensemble cast portraying five couples whose lives are disrupted by impending parenthood. The cast includes Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Chris Rock and Dennis Quaid. Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. is distributing the film.

Weekend revenue for the top 12 films fell 14 percent to $135.7 million from the year-earlier period, said. The amounts below are based on actual ticket sales for May 18 to yesterday.

                      Rev.             Avg./    Pct.   Total
Movie                (mln)  Theaters  Theater    Chg.  (mln) Wks
 1 THE AVENGERS       $55.6   4,249  $13,096   -46   $457.7    3
 2 BATTLESHIP          25.5   3,690    6,920    --     25.5    1
 3 THE DICTATOR        17.4   3,008    5,796    --     24.5    1
 4 DARK SHADOWS        12.6   3,755    3,351   -58     50.7    2
 5 WHAT TO EXPECT      10.5   3,021    3,491    --     10.5    1
 6 EXOTIC MARIGOLD      3.2     354    9,126    21      8.2    3
 7 THE HUNGER GAMES     3.0   2,064    1,429   -35    391.6    9
 8 THINK LIKE A MAN     2.7   1,722    1,539   -54     85.8    5
 9 THE LUCKY ONE        1.8   2,005      887   -57     56.9    5
10 THE PIRATES!         1.6   1,840      858   -50     25.5    4
11 FIVE YEAR ENGAGEMENT 1.1   1,175      945   -66     27.1    4
12 CHIMPANZEE (DOC.)    0.7     895      746   -62     27.0    5

Top 12 Films Grosses

This Week Year Ago Pct. (mln) (mln) Chg. =================================== $135.7 $158.7 -14

Year-to-date Revenue

2012 2011 YTD YTD Pct. (mln) (mln) Chg. =================================== $4,035 $3,488 +16 Year-to-date Attendance: +18%

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