When The Avengers opened in theaters, kicking off the summer movie season of 2012, it changed everything. Combining characters from four different lines of films, the superhero team-up became the biggest box office opening of all-time, cracking the $200 million benchmark and setting records around the world.
The financial and critical success of the film (read: event) re-solidified the pop culture prominence of superheroes and affirmed Marvel Studios' long-term plan of an interconnected, shared cinematic universes. Now, everyone wants to emulate the model as the Disney-owned Marvel continues to benefit from the momentum The Avengers created.
Without even getting into the launch of live-action programs from Marvel TV (ABC's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) and competing studios attempting to do the same thing (Paramount with Transformers and Warner Bros. with DC Comics movies), Marvel's films post-Avengers are a clean example of the continued growth of the comic book movie genre. There's a reason there will be 50+ DC and Marvel branded movies in theaters in the next six years.
The Avengers concluded what became known as "Phase 1" of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Phase 2 kicked off with Iron Man 3 which set its own world records as well. Like The Avengers, the third Iron Man crossed the $1 billion mark at the box office as well as Marvel's most bankable solo character.
But it didn't stop there. Thor: The Dark World also benefited from the branding boost, and in 2014, Marvel tested their movies in non-summer, non-holiday release dates proving that their characters sell, no matter when. Both Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy set records for their April and August release months, respectively which brings us to now: the lead-up to Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Can Age of Ultron top Avengers?
According to Deadline's tracking report, Avengers 2 is currently on track to edge out its predecessor from the same point in time in 2012 and there's a good possibility that Avengers: Age of Ultron will therefore see the biggest theatrical opening of all-time, even greater than that of Avengers 1's $207 million opening in May 2012.
According to Fandango and MovieTickets.com, Age of Ultron is already "significantly" outselling Avengers 1 in early ticket sales. Overall though, it's comparing more closely to Iron Man 3 which earned $174 million in its opening. Avengers 2 is really only lagging - just slightly - in attracting the non-core viewers. That's something Marvel seems to be addressing right now however, with announcements of the film's massive cast coming to Good Morning America and Jimmy Kimmel Live, new marketing materials and Entertainment Weekly cover issues this week, and of course, the global press junket taking place tomorrow to accompany the standard push of TV and print ads, and global events.
Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” stars Robert Downey Jr., who returns as Iron Man, along with Chris Evans as Captain America, Chris Hemsworth as Thor and Mark Ruffalo as The Hulk. Together with Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow and Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, and with the additional support of Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Don Cheadle as James Rhodes/War Machine, Cobie Smulders as Agent Maria Hill and Stellan Skarsgård as Erik Selvig, the team must reassemble to defeat James Spader as Ultron, a terrifying technological villain hell-bent on human extinction. Along the way, they confront two mysterious and powerful newcomers, Wanda Maximoff, played by Elizabeth Olsen, and Pietro Maximoff, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and meet an old friend in a new form when Paul Bettany becomes Vision.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron releases in theaters on May 1 2015, followed by Ant-Man on July 17 2015, Captain America: Civil War on May 6 2016, Doctor Strange on November 4 2016, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 on May 5 2017, Spider-Man on July 28, 2017, Thor: Ragnarok on November 3 2017, Avengers: Infinity War - Part 1 on May 4 2018, Black Panther on July 6 2018, Captain Marvel on November 2 2018, Avengers: Infinity War - Part 2 on May 3 2019 and Inhumans on July 12, 2019.