At the Los Angeles Times, "'Avengers' conquer world box office as U.S. audiences wait":
With a quarter of a billion dollars already in its pocket from a week of ticket sales, the Marvel superhero mash-up"The Avengers"is poised to join Hollywood's most elite club — the brotherhood of billion-dollar box office movies.Video c/o Maggie's Farm.
Unlike its cousins, though, "The Avengers" took a different path to the clubhouse. It opened first overseas, with splashy red-carpet premieres in Rome, Beijing, London and Moscow, where audiences have embraced the special-effects-driven action and adventure film.
By opening early abroad, movies like the Disney release "The Avengers" build box office momentum from their most avid audiences — foreign moviegoers who love spectacular action sequences on the big screen.
American movies, always popular internationally, today earn far more money abroad than at home — up to 70% of their overall take, and rising. Between 2007 and 2011, ticket sales overseas grew 35%, while domestic grosses increased only 6%.
Five years ago, an overseas-first debut would have been unthinkable. Movies always debuted on the same date around the world, or first in the U.S. But now, studios with certain movies are putting foreign theaters first and making U.S. audiences wait.
For "The Avengers," which opens here this weekend, the gambit is working. The film, whose A-list stars include Robert Downey Jr.and Scarlett Johansson, centers around an international peace-keeping crew of Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye and Black Widow. It had a 93% fresh rating from the online review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes.
"The fact that it has done so well overseas has everyone already speculating over just how successful it's going to be," said Peter Adee, who has worked in marketing and distribution at Relativity Media, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Universal. "The question 'Is it going to be successful?' is gone from the conversation before it even debuts in the U.S."
The movie is projected to open in the U.S. and Canada to at least $150 million in ticket sales — among the top five biggest openings of all time. (The top dog is "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2," with its $169.2-million debut.)