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'The Avengers': A Massive International Opening and What It Means at Home

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May 02, 2012 | 6:24am EDT

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Making US fans of comic books, summer blockbusters and pop culture events even antsier, Marvel's The Avengers opened last week overseas — a whole seven days prior to its domestic release. The debut was huge, taking a reported $178.4 million across 39 territories. The choice to open the film across the globe before premiering back home was an interesting move, rarely replicated by Hollywood.com blockbusters, but one that could payoff huge for Marvel.

The comic book conglomerate is no stranger to jumping the gun with their movies. The Avengers follows suit with Thor, which opened in Australia two weeks early to capitalize on holiday weekends. Rolling out of the gate, Thor took in $5.7 million, adding $84 million to the total when it rolled out across the globe. When the movie finally arrived in US theaters it had grossed a tidy sum of $176 million — a number that would be eclipsed domestically (rounding out at $181 million). The Avengers has passed that two week pre-release gross in its first three days.

But the success of an advanced overseas opening isn't fool proof. In 2010, Fox opened the third installment in the Narnia franchise, The Voyage of Dawn Treader, a week prior to the US release. The film took in $11 million, which translated directly to its underperforming $104.4 million total. Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson's animated action movie The Adventures of Tintin preceded the December 2011 domestic release by a whopping two months, hoping to hit big in overseas territories (the movie was based on a famous Belgian comic) to build buzz here in the states. The movie did perform in territories where the property was more familiar, raking up $237.2 million before hitting US theaters. When it arrived, Tintin only took home $77.6 million — even with the Spielberg brand.

The Avengers upperhand comes with brand awareness. Even outside of the super hero realm, movies with success and broad appeal have segued from decent overseas returns to giant domestic grosses. Universal's Fast Five opened two weeks prior to its domestic release in 2011 and the momentum continued. The action flick piled up $82.7 million before pulling into its home turf and topping out at $209 million. As evidenced by its enormous early take, Avengers is a crowd-pleaser that aims to top even the biggest blockbusters.

Hollywood.com Box Office Analyst Paul Dergarabedian has already called it: The Avengers should have no problem taking the number one slot in the US with a weekend total over $100 million. The superhero team up will join an exclusive club when it hits that nine-figure number, and much of the success can be rooted back its early opening. Will it become a new Hollywood standard? The trend will likely continue, this weekend a clear a turning point for how modern summer movies should and will roll out.

Find Matt Patches directly on Twitter @misterpatches and remember to follow @Hollywood_com!

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