This summer, over the same May weekend 10 years later, "The Avengers" did today's equivalent of the unthinkable with the first $200 million debut.
Average ticket prices in 2002: $5.80, meaning about 20 million tickets sold for "Spider-Man" over opening weekend. Average ticket prices today: $7.83, meaning about 26 million tickets sold for "The Avengers" in its first weekend.
But the ticket price for "The Avengers" would average out quite a bit higher because much of its business came from 3-D screenings, which cost a few extra dollars. With today's market-saturation release pattern, "The Avengers" also played on far more screens than "Spider-Man" did.
Likewise, "The Dark Knight Rises" is playing only in 2-D, so it's a superhero flick probably destined to be less of a box-office spectacle than "Avengers" because no one's paying extra to watch it wearing, well, spectacles.
Inflation really makes a difference gauging all-time box-office sensations. "Avatar," ''Titanic," ''The Avengers" and other top-grossing modern movies have more cash in the bank but lag behind such older films as "Gone with the Wind," ''Star Wars" and "The Sound of Music" in terms of actual tickets sold.
Warner and other studios did the right thing in muzzling the box-office machine this weekend. Counting dollars is trivial in light of the tragedy in Colorado.
But then, is it any less trivial this weekend than the other 51 weekends of the year?
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