So as you may have heard there is this movie out right now called The Avengers. It came out last weekend and subsequently broke pretty much every single opening weekend record there is. More than one opening weekend record you ask? Well, I’m glad you did. There are plenty.
There’s the opening weekend Record (3 day, Fri-Sun) (5 day Wed-Sun). Midnight Showing Records. Biggest Friday. Biggest Saturday. Biggest Sunday. Even a Biggest Second Weekend.
In the old days a movie like Jaws or Star Wars was a huge blockbuster for making 20 million dollars on opening weekend. Both those films made their money from longevity, not from their openings – but even at 20 million, their opening weekends were incredible for their time.
In the last few years things have gotten ridiculous because of the increase in ticket prices, and the evolution of 3D technology, which adds to both the cost and the potential spectacle of the movie (57% of Avengers ticket sales were 3D).
In 2008, Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight surprised everyone by breaking every record and becoming the fastest movie to reach nearly every milestone. First to 100 million, 200 million, etc. And it did all this without 3D (Although it did have IMAX – another slightly more expensive and spectacular way to see a movie, although with far less screens than 3D).
In 2009, James Cameron’s 3D extravaganza Avatar became the fastest movie in history to reach 500 million dollars. That record still stands today but judging by The Avengers’ numbers this weekend, it won’t likely hold much longer.
The final Harry Potter movie (also 3D) briefly broke and held a bunch of opening weekend records last year, but again, The Avengers train has steamrolled all of that. And yet with The Dark Knight Rises, a new Twilight movie, and The Hobbit all coming out before the end of 2012, who knows what the 2013 record books may show.
And so I ask… does it even matter? When you look at the charts you’ll see that the bulk of the movies in the top ten all time world-wide box office are NOT good movies. For example, Tim Burton’s awful Alice in Wonderland, two of the three (or was it four?) Pirates of the Caribbean movies, and Transformers: Dark of the Moon are all in the top ten – and the top two movies are both made by James Cameron. There are only three (in my opinion) legitimate classics on the top ten list, and these are The Dark Knight, Toy Story 3, and The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (who am I kidding, I love Titanic – it’s a classic too – so four then). And yet the quality of the movies hardly seems to matter. All anybody really cares about these days is how much money the movie made, and how fast.
It just pisses me off because in the old days (listen to me, like I’m some kind of old man) records used to mean something. Titanic sat at over a billion dollars for more than ten years – completely untouchable. It was almost a poetic, passing of the record baton when Avatar took the top spot because it was the very next damn movie the man made after Titanic. There’s something beautiful about that. But now records are getting broken and re-broken like we’re playing some kind of video game Olympics with cheat codes. Some of the blame goes to 3D, some of it goes to a growing culture of the midnight screening – something else that (back in the good old days) was something only die hard fans bothered to do.
Maybe if I’m really honest, I’m only pissed because I just LIKED The Avengers and I didn’t love it. I just don’t think it deserves the record. Not like The Dark Knight did. But you see… I’m just falling victim to the illusion that any of this crap even matters.
Either way, I’d love it if in July The Dark Knight Rises sneaks up and snatches all the records back – without the 3D surcharge, without Vampires or wizards, and without James Cameron.
But if Nolan can’t do it in July then I hope Peter Jackson does it in December. At least he’ll have the 3D.
For the record (as of May 13th, 2012):
|FASTEST TO $100M||The Avengers||2 days|
|FASTEST TO $150M||The Avengers||2 days|
|FASTEST TO $200M||The Avengers||3 days|
|FASTEST TO $250M||The Avengers||6 days|
|FASTEST TO $300M||The Avengers||9 days|
|FASTEST TO $350M||The Avengers||10 days|
|FASTEST TO $400M||The Dark Knight||18 days|
|FASTEST TO $450M||The Dark Knight||27 days|
|FASTEST TO $500M||Avatar||32 days|