A few thoughts on an upcoming art film…

Now that the Marvel movies are done for the summer, all attention has turned to The Avengers.

All of the Marvel movies buttons (that is what they call those post credits sequences at the back of the films) have been seen.  The hype is growing for a movie that will not hit theaters for another 9 months.

Some assembly required.

Once the lights came up at the end of Captain America, the crowd in the theater cheered.  At D23 this last week, Disney’s Entertainment and Fan Expo, the reaction was the same with a buzz reel shown to a secured crowd.  There were no laptops, camera or phones allowed for the event,  Though the reports have been circulating.  It is safe to say that this will be a huge event in 2012.  The issue is, will this movie live up to the hype?

Expectations about the content of this film aside, as we can only guess as to the specifics, the problems or issues this film may face are many…

1.  In the film’s favor is a fairly weak slate of films in the weeks and even months before we get to see this group save the world.  The only comic book film before this one is Ghost Rider:  Spirits of Vengeance, which will be as successful as the first, which is not saying much.  The new trailer looks good though.  The only other big action film of note releasing before The Avengers is Clash of the Titans 2, so it is very likely that the demand for a big action genre film will be high.  This is the reason that studios stack what they call the tent poles in the summer season, and the first releases in May usually have a good shot at big money whether they deserve it or not.  Deserve is a fair point here.  X-Men First Class is still considered the weak Marvel film of 2011, and it simply does not deserve that title.  True it is the least successful of the 3 this year, but it was far from a failure.  It has a $55 million opening weekend (10 less than Cap and Thor) and has done $145 million in domestic release, and had mostly good reviews and fan reaction.  With DVD and Blu-ray coming in September, it will do fine.  But none of that matters as it is PERCEIVED as a weak entry.  So there are lots of intangibles that could help or hurt The Avengers.

2.  The weeks after the release are a little bigger as you would expect, but not staggeringly so.  The latest crappy toy tie in movie, Battleship, based on the Hasbro game opens two weeks after, and looks like it will not be the next Transformers, but you never know.  At the end of May is MIB 3.  So May 2012 could be a very good time for Marvel.

3.  The hype, if not controlled very carefully could hurt this film.  Green Lantern suffered from this.  A very good marketing campaign raised expectations and the film failed to meet them.  Big time.   If this film stumbles and pushes the fans away, it will kill future big Marvel projects and with only Iron Man 3 at any meaningful stage of development, they may choose to step back and re-evaluate the properties in the pipeline.  A major failure could even affect Warner’s further DC Comics film plans.  There is a not unjustified fear that the market is becoming overstuffed on comic book adaptations and every release, particularly big budget ones, are under a microscope.

4.  Then there is the Joss factor.  So loved by his fans is Joss Whedon, that his name alone as the film’s director will carry a small but very devoted number of fans in the seats.  The other side to this, is that the studios know his track record.  His projects do fine, but they are not blockbusters in any genre they appear.  His TV projects have been a mixed bag (Firefly and Buffy being the most well know at each end of the spectrum)  an and far from anything more than genre popular.  The movies are another matter.  This will be only his second time in the director’s chair.  His first, 2005’s Firefly sequel, Serenity was a moderate success, but far from what the studio had hoped.  Other high-profile projects he has been associated with have been largely seen as less than great.  His turns at writing movies, both credited and uncredited have been a mixed bag, but the negatives always seem to come up more often.  If this film fails, his poison pill status will be cemented, I’m afraid.

5.  Then there is the all important opening weekend.  The studio almost certainly has a number in mind.  Since the films leading up to it all hit the $50 million mark, that is the minimum they will expect.  They are much more likely thinking that this film should open to something north of $100 million, which puts it on par with the first Iron Man.  A more likely figure will be $80 million.  That is where I will put my money down for the betting.  I have heard a few doofus types on the internet saying that it could unseat HP7.2 which set the mark this summer at $169 million for the all-time opening weekend record.  Sorry guys, IF that record falls in 2012 it will be either The Dark Night Rises or the last of the Twilight entries that will make that a short-lived record.

I am hopeful.  I want to see this movie and I want it to be a success.  But to be fair, I will do everything I can to keep my expectations in line.

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