The uber-big overseas news of course came from the foreign debut of The Avengers (review). Opening in about 70% of the major world markets, the $220 million super-hero team-up picture earned a colossal $178 million over its first five days. That's the ninth-biggest worldwide opening weekend of all-time, and the biggest for a movie that wasn't explicitly a sequel (semantics perhaps, but bare with me). Combined with what will surely be a minimum-$135 million U.S. opening next weekend, and the Marvel production should flirt with $400 million in the tank by a week from today. As of today, it is the 10th-biggest worldwide grosser of 2012 in just five days (it has already outgrossed the $170 million cume of Battleship which has been playing for nearly a month). By next week, it will be number-two behind only The Hunger Games ($589 million). The Avengers may or may-not surpass the $372 million-and-counting domestic cume for The Hunger Games, but it is sure to be the worldwide champion of 2012 at-least until The Dark Knight Rises debuts on July 20th.
Back to domestic news, the highest-grossing of the four new releases was The Pirates: Band of Misfits. The Aardman Animation stop-motion toon grossed a solid $11.4 million, nearly besting the $12 million debut of Arthur Christmas last Thanksgiving. That film had strong legs and eventually reached $46 million in the US and $100 million overseas. The $50 million Pirates! Band of Misfits has already amassed $75 million worldwide so it appears that this is another release where the domestic gross is merely icing on the cake. Universal's The Five-Year Engagement performed rather poorly this weekend, bringing in $11.2 million despite starring Jason Segel and Emily Blunt. Blunt hasn't really had a chance to test her alleged star-power (she frankly usually plays the needless 'token love interest'), but Segel is a press-friendly star of How I Met Your Mother and a card-carrying member of the Apatow gang with two genuinely solid opening weekends ($17 million for Forgetting Sarah Marshall and I Love You Man respectively). Still, the film cost just $30 million, so if it doesn't completely die overseas it should break even in the end. The harm is more about the egos of its stars than actual financial loss for the studio.
The next two releases were star-driven, R-rated thrillers that maybe... JUST MAYBE... shouldn't have opened on the same weekend. Safe (review) may be one of the best films of Jason Statham's career (The Bank Job is arguably better), but a marketing campaign that made it seem like a rhiff on Mercury Rising and a crowded weekend made it among his lowest openings as an action-lead. The film earned $7.7 million this weekend, meaning it will be lucky to crack $20 million after The Avengers steals away every action junkie on the planet. There are exceptions here and there, but Jason Statham's career is a lot like Adam Sandler's. The better and/or more challenging the movie, the worse it performs at the box office. Relatively moved the John Cusack thriller The Raven into this uber-crowded weekend somewhat at the last minute, and it's obvious they knew they had a critical turd on their hands. And indeed the 'Edgar Allen Poe catches a serial killer' picture debuted with just $7.2 million. There isn't much to say about this one, other than the truly awful reviews left me disinterested in a film that I secretly hoped would be a trashy good time. Alas...
This article continues at Mendelson's Memos.