Against the backdrop of the horrible shooting rampage in Colorado, Box Office Mojo delayed releasing figures on gross cinema takings for last weekend. The figures, now released, show that The Dark Knight Rises fell a long way short of the US opening weekend record set recently by The Avengers. Prior to the release there was much speculation that The Dark Knight Rises could be one of the most successful movies of all time, in commercial terms, with much pent-up interest.
What this really means in the circumstances is difficult to tell. For what it's worth, The Dark Knight Rises ended up with an opening weekend of nearly $161 million. This puts it third, behind The Avengers, with approx $207.5 million and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, with $169 million. I expect that The Dark Knight will struggle to pull in foreign grosses to match those of The Avengers, and that the latter will end up more successful overall. Still, this was such an unusual weekend that we perhaps shouldn't extrapolate anything at this stage.
Meanwhile, The Avengers finally seems to have run out of puff, looking at the general figures for the weekend. Again we have to treat these carefully. It was up against the opening weekend for The Dark Knight Rises, and of course many Americans may not have been in the mood to go to the cinema last Saturday in particular. Still, its takings are now in steep decline, and it's doubtful that it can go any higher among the all-time inflation-adjusted money earners (there's an outside chance of its passing Mary Poppins for 25th spot on that list ... but it's looking less and less likely).
The Avengers now has worldwide takings of about $1.46 billion - so, $40 million short of the $1.5 billion that I extrapolated a long time ago now. It probably won't quite reach that figure, but it should turn out to be a reasonable approximation. The movie has yet to open in Japan, where I'd expect it to do pretty well. This will, of course, still leave it a long way short of the raw dollar worldwide takings of Avatar and Titanic, though it may hold on to third place through 2012. Apart from The Dark Knight Rises, I can't see anything challenging it in the immediate future.