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Box office preview: Will 'The Avengers' score the largest opening ever?

Can seven superheroes take down a teenage wizard? That’s the question every box-office prognosticator is facing this weekend, as The Avengers smashes into theaters looking to score the biggest opening weekend ever, an honor that currently belongs to last summer’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2, which debuted to an otherworldly $169.2 million.

Part of me simply wants to say The Avengers will gross $170 million so that if it does break the record, I can yell, “Toldja!” But the statistician in me is more concerned with getting this prediction right, and the indicators for this being the biggest opening ever are not quite in place. It’ll be huge, don’t get me wrong — I’m forecasting the second-largest debut to date, behind only Deathly Hallows — Part 2. And The Avengers could grab the record. It may be very close. This all makes for an incredibly exciting weekend. But when it comes to that over-under bet, I’m opting for under. Here’s why:

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Movie Talk: Owen and Lisa debate 'The Avengers': Great fun? Or empty fun? -- VIDEO

AVENGERS-OWEN-LISA

EW movie critics Owen Gleiberman and Lisa Schwarzbaum have distinctly different takes on The Avengers, which comes out this Friday, but they agree on the movie’s overall success as a fun, thrilling ride. While Gleiberman compares the depth of the film’s characters to the classic 12 Angry Men, Lisa says the Joss Whedon-helmed bonanza is another example of comic book movies-as-commodity — going so far as to say the characters’ banter makes her “depressed.”

Check out their full back-and-forth criticism in the video below:
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'The Avengers' opens to $178 million overseas. Can a comic-book movie finally be a global mega-hit?

If you’ve paid any attention to the box office over the past few years, you’ve heard the constant drumbeat that the international box office has been increasingly driving Hollywood’s bottom line. Even for movies that are massive stateside hits, international sales usually dwarf what they make here. According to Box Office Mojo, Avatar‘s foreign box office accounted for 73 percent of its global take. Alice in Wonderland: 67 percent. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2: 71 percent. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: 77 percent.

But if the movie is based on a comic book, the U.S./foreign box office scales have been far less lopsided. X-Men First Class‘ overseas receipts were 59 percent of its global total. Thor: 60 percent. Captain America: 52 percent. Iron Man 2‘s U.S. gross ($312 mil) just slightly edged out its foreign gross ($311 mil). And the grand pooh-bah of superhero movies, The Dark Knight, made $65 million more in the U.S. than it did internationally. This isn’t to say comic-book movies are failures overseas — far from it. But there clearly is something about them — the America-centric storylines; the internationally untested stars; the silly costumes — that isn’t resonating with non-U.S. audiences in the same way as giant blue aliens, British boy wizards, and wobbly-limbed pirates.

So what does that mean for The Avengers, which just pulled in a whopping $178 million this weekend overseas?  READ FULL STORY

Box office report: 'Think Like A Man' wins again with $18 million; 'Pirates' sails past 'Engagement'

Look guys, sometimes box office articles just need four headlines!

In this case, the under-performance of The Five-Year Engagement wasn’t the only big story this weekend. Think Like A Man notched a very strong sophomore frame, The Hunger Games reached a truly remarkable milestone, and The Avengers flexed their muscles internationally. Oh, and Safe and The Raven also entered theaters. We’ve got a lot to talk about! Here’s how the box office shook out: READ FULL STORY

'The Avengers' dominating the box office overseas: Will it break the domestic opening weekend record?

The Avengers doesn’t come out for a week, but the folks at Disney (distributors of Marvel’s superhero title) are already seeing a lot of green — and it’s not just because of the Hulk.

In its overseas debut yesterday, The Avengers punched up a terrific $17.1 million from 10 countries. That gross includes $6.2 million in Australia (the second highest opening day of all time), $3.7 million in Italy, $2.9 million in France, $1.3 million in Taiwan (the highest opening day of all time), and $0.8 million in New Zealand (again, the highest opening day of all time). Lucrative markets like England, China, and Russia are still waiting to see the film.

“We’re extremely encouraged by this incredible start,” says Dave Hollis, Disney’s EVP of theatrical exhibition. If you ask us, it sounds like he’s being modest. By all accounts, Disney has a bona fide smash on its hands.  READ FULL STORY

'Avengers' clip: Captain America and Thor fight the invaders

The Guardian has just put together a video featuring interviews with half the cast of Avengers along with a 20-second clip from the movie, which finds Captain America and Thor doing battle with the invading army of things that are neither Kree nor Skrulls. The clip from the movie is exciting — it starts at about 3:47 — but there’s some fun stuff in the rest of the video. Mark Ruffalo lightly mocks John Cusack. Scarlett Johansson claims that Iron Man showed her that a big popcorn movie “could still have the quality of a small independent film.” And Clark Gregg continues to steal the show from everybody. Also, for the ladies: Tom Hiddleston. Watch the clip: READ FULL STORY

'Hunger Games' and 'Lorax' lead 2012's box office boom: Are we headed for a record-breaking year?

Sorry, Lisbeth Salander — you tried your best, but apparently, what Hollywood really needed to revive the box office was a fuzzy orange puffball and starving archer named Katniss.

Yep, in 2012, titles like The Hunger Games and The Lorax have lifted the box office high above its late-2011 woes. In case you forgot, 2011 ended up being the least-attended year at the movies since 1995 after sure bets such as The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and The Adventures of Tintin floundered at the box office during the normally lucrative holiday season.

Still, almost as soon as the ball dropped on New Year’s Eve, the box office’s fortunes completely turned around.

Every movie — from 21 Jump Street to The Vow to the aforementioned Games — suddenly seemed to be over-performing (except John Carter, of course). After 114 days, the 2012 box office had amassed $3.16 billion — a whopping 17 percent above the $2.70 billion that had been earned at the same point in 2011 — and the healthy grosses don’t look likely to slow down anytime soon. What’s behind the big bump? We brought that question to two box office analysts, BoxOfficeGuru.com‘s Gitesh Pandya and BoxOffice.com‘s Phil Contrino. Here’s what the industry experts had to say: READ FULL STORY

New 'The Dark Knight Rises' trailer to play in front of 'The Avengers'

As if fanboys didn’t already have enough reason to pack into cineplexes the weekend of May 4, EW has confirmed that the third trailer for The Dark Knight Rises will play in front Marvel Studios’ The Avengers. 

While Christopher Nolan’s final Batman film is based on the venerable DC Comics property — and as we all know, DC and Marvel are sworn enemies except for lucrative inter-company crossover opportunities — Warner Bros. smartly decided that it made sense to pair TDKR‘s newest trailer with Marvel’s wildly anticipated omnibus superhero behemoth. The trailer will play with 3-D and 2-D screenings in both conventional and IMAX theaters.

The inventively named Nolan fansite “Nolan Fans” first broke the story.

Read more:
‘The Dark Knight Rises’ star Tom Hardy talks about playing Bane and inventing the villain’s controversial voice: ‘It’s a risk.’
‘The Dark Knight Rises’ earns PG-13 rating for violence and…sensuality?
‘The Dark Knight Rises’ trailer #2: Explosive. Scary. Political?
‘The Dark Knight Rises’ trailer #1: “Every Hero Has a Journey. Every Journey Has an End.”

Tribeca Film Festival: 10* world premieres to see in 10 nights

THE-GIRL

The 11th Annual Tribeca Film Festival began last night, with a star-studded gala screening of The Five-Year Engagement, starring Jason Segel and Emily Blunt. It’s a big, funny romantic comedy that you can see yourself at your local multiplex next week, but some of Tribeca’s other offerings are reserved for lucky Gotham cinephiles. New Yorkers are accustomed to a multitude of movie options, even when there isn’t a festival in town. So we won’t fawn over the amazing Searching for Sugarman — Sundance discovered it first — or the adorable period comedy, Hysteria, a Toronto find. New Yorkers like to be first. To that end, there are 50 world premieres at this year’s festival. So without further ado, here are 10 Tribeca screenings — nine world premieres and one ginormous exception — that will fill your festival with me-first Big Apple pride. (But yes, if you must see the delightful Your Sister’s Sister, it’s okay to enjoy that Toronto fave, too.)

Tonight
First Winter

A group of hippie urbanites think they’ve found the perfect winter oasis in a country farmhouse, but when the power goes out, their utopian ideals are put to the test. READ FULL STORY

'Avengers' clip: Thor and Iron Man fight... and fight and fight

A new clip for May’s hotly anticipated The Avengers — or, as it’s known in Finland, The Most Exquisite Spin-Off Accumulation Organization: Accumulators, Accumulate! — has just hit the internet. The meat of the video is a 52-second sneak peek of Iron Man and Thor having an old-fashioned Godzilla/Rodan battle in a forest. (Presumably, Captain America shows up after the clip to calm things down. Cap is such a Mothra.)

As a lifelong Avengers fan, I have to point out that clip is predicated on a curious ongoing fallacy: The notion that a mere mortal could somehow fight Thor for more than a couple seconds. Like, you know how sometimes, in old Avengers comics, the team would have training sessions? Hawkeye would shoot his arrows, and Scarlet Witch would cast her magical mutant powers of plot contrivance, and Wonder Man would punch something while his eyes shined red? I like to imagine that Thor would occasionally walk into the training sessions, cheekily proclaim, “Hey guys, guess what: I’m a god!” and then cause a hurricane to destroy the Eastern Seaboard. Watch the clip below, or check it out in HD at iTunes. READ FULL STORY

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