'The Avengers' Bigger Than 'The Dark Knight' and 'Hunger Games'?

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Marvel/Disney

The Avengers’ took over Hollywood last week, hosting its world premiere at the El Capitan Theatre in Los Angeles, conducting hoards of interviews with the world’s top journalists, and bringing Joss Whedon’s film to 10 markets that proved themselves as fan-friendly through a Facebook campaign. According to tracking results, the ‘Avengers’ initiative is working.

The Hollywood Reporter says that Whedon’s blockbuster – which doesn’t open until May 4 – is predicted to open somewhere north of $150 million, according to pre-release tracking. That would, as they note, make it “one of the biggest domestic openings of all time.” The lead, from a comic perspective, currently is held by Chris Nolan’s ‘The Dark Knight,’ which opened to $152.5 million in July 2008. ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2’ holds the record for highest-grossing weekend, however, with $169.1M earned in July 2011.

Let’s get geeky. THR says that according to first tracking, “unaided awareness in ‘Avengers’ is 13 percent, compared with 10 percent for ‘Dark Knight’ and 11 percent for ‘Hunger Games;’ first choice is 23 percent, tying with ‘Hunger Games’ and higher than the 19 percent for ‘Dark Knight.’ Total awareness is 85 percent, compared with 76 percent for ‘Dark Knight’ and 74 percent for ‘Hunger Games;’ definite interest is 61 percent, versus 62 percent for ‘Dark Knight’ and 54 percent for ‘Hunger Games.’

Can Whedon’s Marvel hero mash-up surpass either ‘Dark Knight’ or ‘Potter’ when it opens in May? It’s possible. Audiences are starving for the next blockbuster, as evidenced by ‘The Hunger Games’ winning the box office weekend four weeks in a row. And nothing will really challenge the ‘Games’ between now and when ‘Avengers’ unleashes its big-budget fury on theaters on May 4.

But even if Whedon and crew set a new record, how long will it last? Sony has ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ coming to theaters over the July 4 weekend. And, of course, Nolan concludes his Batman trilogy with ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ on July 20. Both of those could rise up and swat ‘The Avengers’ down the box office charts just a bit if they click on all cylinders, as we expect.

It’s shaping up to be a blockbuster season. Which title are you most looking forward to?

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