This Weekend's Winners: Could there be any doubt? Going into the weekend, projections had Marvel's The Avengers ready to jostle Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 for the best opening weekend of all time. In the end, it wasn't even close: Avengers earned just over $200 million to Potter's $169 million opening haul. Meanwhile, elderly super-actor team-up The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel performed smashingly in limited release, pulling in $750,000 for an average of $27,778 on 27 screens.
This Weekend's Losers: The long-shelved Kate Hudson rom-com A Little Bit of Heaven had a truly hellish debut, bringing in an anemic $9,800 on eleven screens.
How It All Went Down: Everyone knew that The Avengers would be big, but the question was how big. The movie had already opened overseas in plenty of key countries and set records, but Stateside, the only pre-Avengers Marvel film to break nine figures in its opening weekend was Iron Man 2, with $128 million. Captain America, Thor, and both of the Hulk films had all begun with weekends hovering around the $60 million mark.
In this case, though, the pump had been perfectly primed. The Avengers ultimately left its prequels in the dust, and with an A+ Cinemascore and a fairly unchallenging May ahead, there's no end in sight for this movie. Even The Dark Knight Rises, the summer's other majorly anticipated superhero title, may not be able to post totals as high since, unlike The Avengers, it won't be goosing any extra cash from a murky 3-D transfer.
As counter-programming, Marigold Hotel worked well. It opened on nearly the same number of screens as another recent Brits-abroad dramedy with an unwieldy name — Salmon Fishing in the Yemen — but pulled in more than three times the grosses. Like The Avengers, it's already a well-minted hit abroad, and its Stateside performance should make good on all that promise.
As for A Little Bit of Heaven … ouch. It's one of the worst debuts of the year, especially relative to the number of screens it was released on: The only movies to do worse on ten or eleven screens are starless flicks you've never heard of, like I Kissed a Vampire (starring High School Musical's Lucas Grabeel) and Aussie import Tomorrow When the War Began. Relatively unheralded dance documentary First Position came out this weekend on six fewer screens than Heaven, yet it more than quintupled that film’s box-office take. Though Hudson spends Little Bit coping with a diagnosis of terminal cancer, the future for her movie is even grimmer: It's already dead.