question of the day: How big can a movie get? (Or: How huge will Avengers open in North America?)

Marvel's The Avengers Assemble

Marvel’s The Avengers — aka Avengers Assemble in the U.K. (my review here) — opened huge outside of North America this past weekend. The Hollywood Reporter can barely contain itself:

Although it’s still late spring, the summer tentpole season opened offshore with a blast on the weekend as Marvel’s The Avengers opened in 39 territories on the foreign theatrical circuit, grossing a jaw droppingly robust $178.4 million.

Playing in about 70 % of the international marketplace, the $220-million-dollar, action-packed mélange of comic book heroes – the first Marvel release marketed and distributed by Walt Disney — set all time opening records in Mexico ($15.9 million), Brazil ($11.3 million), Argentina, Ecuador, Peru, Central American and Bolivia.

Also, opening launch records were set in Hong Kong ($4.6 million), Taiwan ($7.7 million), Malaysia, and the Philippines. Opening day records were set in New Zealand and in Iceland.

The U.K’s share of that take was $24.7 million, or about £15 million… which must be one of the biggest weekends ever in the U.K., if not the biggest. (It’s hard to find historical box office data for anywhere outside North America.)

So now everyone is watching to see how the film will fare when it opens in the U.S. and Canada on Friday. To beat out the current holder of the biggest-opening-weekend-ever record — Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2The Avengers will have to earn at least $169,189,428. But could it go much bigger than that? Could it have the first $200 million opening weekend?

How big can a movie get? What are the limits (beyond the physical contraints of the number of screens and the temporal constraints of the number of showings a film can have each day)? What would it take for a movie to have a $200 million opening? Will it ever happen?

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