Box Office News

The $100 Million Opening Weekend

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May 02, 2012 | 4:22am EDT

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AvengersWith Disney’s release of Marvel’s The Avengers poised for a $100 million plus opening weekend boosted by IMAX (which is already contributing big time to the film's overseas numbers) and the 3-D component as well, we look back at the evolution of this lofty benchmark.

Box Office Fact: Thus far, only 20 films have ever opened to more than $100 million in N. America.

The era of the $100 million weekend was born on Friday, May 3, 2002 with the famous $114,844,116 debut of Sony’s first Spider-Man installment, and along with it a new benchmark for blockbuster box office success. Of course higher ticket prices played a role in the achievement of this formerly unfathomable weekend box office goal; prior to this $100 million in total N. American box office signified blockbuster status for a film.

Box Office Fact: 17 of the current 20 films with $100 million plus opening weekends are sequels.

The biggest opening weekend of all time belongs to Warner Bros.’ Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 released in mid-July of 2011 with a staggering $169,189,427 and a first day gross of $91.1 million! At the “low” end of the spectrum is Paramount’s 2008 hit Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull which just made it into the $100 million club with a debut of $100,137,835.

Box Office Fact: The best month to release a $100 million opening weekend monster is May with 9 films (soon to be 10 with Avengers)! November has four films to its credit, July has three, June and March have two each. Note however that the top two films are mid-July releases.

Of course in the wake of The Avengers $178.4 million debut in 39 international territories last week speculation is running rampant as to how big the film will open in its N. American debut. Like Apple stock on a roll, the opening weekend predictions keep going up every day and are now ranging from $150 million on the low side to $170 million plus on the insane side and everything in between. Contrast this with predictions around the time of the movie’s worldwide premiere last month that had the film opening in the $130 to $140 million range and you have the makings of yet the latest opening weekend prediction derby that keeps everyone guessing.

Could 2012 be the year that beats 2010’s record, four films to open with over $100 million at the N. American box office? We’ve got one in the bank so far with Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games and of course the pre-destined $100 million debut of Disney/Marvel’s The Avengers later this week. That makes two. This leaves us with at least three more films that could cross the century mark in their opening weekends: Sony’s The Amazing Spider-Man, “Warner Bros.’ The Dark Knight Rises and their December release of The Hobbit. This would make 2012 the biggest blockbuster year in history with five films to cross the $100 million opening weekend threshold.

Box Office Fact: Five of the current twenty $100 million openers are Super-Hero Movies including The Dark Knight, Spider-Man 3, Iron Man 2, Spider-Man and X-Men: The Last Stand.

We ask the question: Which 2012 films do you think could open to $100 million plus?…and is the $200 million opening weekend possible within the next two years?

Below is a list of the current members of the $100 million opening club:

1. HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART II - $169,189,427

2. DARK KNIGHT, THE - $158,411,483

3. THE HUNGER GAMES - $152,535,747

4. SPIDER-MAN 3 - $151,116,516

5. TWILIGHT SAGA, THE: NEW MOON - $142,839,137

6. THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN, PART 1 - $138,122,261

7. PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN'S CHEST - $135,634,554

8. IRON MAN 2 - $128,122,480

9. HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS - PART 1 - $125,017,372

10. SHREK THE THIRD - $121,629,270

11. ALICE IN WONDERLAND - $116,101,023

12. SPIDER-MAN - $114,844,116

13. PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD'S END - $114,732,820

14. TOY STORY 3 - $110,307,189

15. TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN - $108,966,307

16. STAR WARS: EPISODE III - REVENGE OF THE SITH - $108,435,841

17. SHREK 2 - $108,037,878

18. X-MEN: THE LAST STAND - $102,750,665

19. HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE - $102,685,961

20. INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL - $100,137,835

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