When Mark McGwire broke the single-season home run record in 1998—surpassing Roger Maris’ 37-year-long hold on the record by a staggering nine home runs—everyone assumed that it would be at least another 37 years before anyone would even come close to matching McGwire’s accomplishment. Of course, the record was smashed just three years later by Barry Bonds, who outhit (and out-steroided) McGwire by three home runs.
Something similar happened at the box office over the weekend. When Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II opened with $169 million last summer, most people assumed that the record would be safe for the foreseeable future—or at least until the film rights are optioned for some other seven-part book series that’s sold 450 million copies and captured the imaginations of an entire generation. But less than one year later, Harry Potter has been outhit and out-steroided by The Avengers, which grossed a mind-boggling $200 million on its opening weekend.
1. The Avengers $200M
Add this number to the $441 million its already made overseas, and you end up with $641 million—a good first step toward breaking the record set by Avatar ($2.78 billion). It looks like the five-year-long advertising campaign, which began with the appearance of Nick Fury in the post-credit sequence in Iron Man and has continued on through the post-credit sequences of every other Marvel movie made since, paid off big time for Marvel.
2. Think Like a Man $8M (total: $73M)
It turns out that Steve Harvey has written another best-selling self-help book, Straight Talk, No Chaser. How long do you think it will be until it also gets turned into a feature-length infomercial that takes the box office by storm?
3. The Hunger Games $5.7M (total: $381M)
This is now the 14th highest grossing movie of all time domestically. Just another $1 million to go until it surpasses Deathly Hallows Part II.
4. The Lucky One $5.51M (total: $47.9M)
This is shaping up to be one of the lower grossing Nicholas Sparks adaptations, but it’s still high enough to guarantee that the 10 Sparks novels that haven’t yet been adapted will one day go in front of the camera.
5. The Pirates! Band of Misfits $5.4M (total: $18.6M)
Scheduling Pirates! so close to The Avengers was probably a bad idea. Still, the movie has made a respectable $70 million overseas, so it’s unlikely that anyone will get fired over this.
6. The Five-Year Engagement $5.09M (total: $19.2M)
On the other hand, a lot of people are probably going to get fired over this one. With the usually dependable Jason Segel and Emily Blunt in the leads, it should have been a piece of cake for The Five-Year Engagement to re-coup its $30 million budget. Instead, it looks like the only way that Universal will be able to turn a profit will be to manufacture only one Blu-ray, charge $30 million for it, and aim the Blu-ray marketing campaign exclusively at Bill Gates.
7. The Raven $2.51M (total: $12M)
At the very least, the people responsible for The Five-Year Engagement advertising campaign can take comfort in the fact that they weren’t also responsible for the advertising campaign for The Raven.
8. Safe $2.47M (total: $12.9M)
This is low enough that Jason Statham may have to finally consider the idea of playing different characters.
For the complete box office tally, visit Box Office Mojo.