Movie Projector: Even Johnny Depp can't stop 'The Avengers'
After debuting with a record-breaking $207.4 million — the biggest opening weekend ever, not adjusting for inflation — "The Avengers" isn't likely to lose steam at the box office any time soon. In its second weekend, the film featuring beloved comic book characters such as Iron Man, Captain America and the Hulk is expected to collect an additional $90 million, according to those who have seen pre-release audience surveys.
Heading into the weekend, the film has already raked in a phenomenal $775.4 million worldwide and is no doubt headed for the elite $1-billion box office club, which has 11 members.
That means that "Dark Shadows," the vampire comedy directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp, will have to settle for the runner-up position with a debut of around $40 million. Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow co-financed the picture for close to $150 million, meaning the film’s projected debut will be good but not great, considering its substantial budget.
While “The Avengers” will be serious competition for “Dark Shadows,” Warner Bros. is hopeful that many young male moviegoers who have already seen the adventure epic will opt for the Depp film instead this weekend. Both pictures will face one fewer rival this weekend because last month, Paramount Pictures decided to move the release date of "The Dictator" to May 16, five days after the debut of "Dark Shadows."
Paramount made the hasty move because the studio felt that the film starring Sacha Baron Cohen as a dictator from a fictional Middle Eastern country and "Dark Shadows" were offbeat comedies that would have to fight for the same audience.
“Dark Shadows” is the eighth collaboration between Depp and Burton, whose most successful partnership came with 2010’s “Alice in Wonderland,” which made over $1 billion worldwide. The director and actor first teamed on 1990's "Edward Scissorhands," and the quirky pair have since made a handful of similarly eccentric, dark comedies together, including “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” — their second-biggest hit ever.
Based on an ABC soap opera that began in the 1960s, “Dark Shadows” was a passion project for Depp and Burton, both of whom rushed home to watch the television program every day as school boys. In the film, Depp plays Barnabas, an 18th century lothario who is transformed into a vampire, imprisoned in an underground crypt, and only set free in 1972. The movie has earned only middling reviews, notching a 51% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes as of Thursday morning.
"Dark Shadows" will debut overseas this weekend in 42 foreign markets, where Depp has traditionally been popular. With the exception of last year's animated "Rango," every big-budget film the actor has appeared in in the last decade has performed better abroad than domestically. "The Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise has been especially popular with international audiences, and the last installment, "On Stranger Tides," made roughly $800 million of its $1-billion global take overseas.
In limited release, Lionsgate is debuting "Girl in Progress" in 322 theaters. The film, starring Eva Mendes as a single mother struggling to maintain balance in her personal and professional lives, is being distributed by Pantelion Films, Lionsgate's co-venture with Mexican media company Televisa.
— Amy Kaufman
Photo: Johnny Depp in "Dark Shadows." Credit: Warner Bros.