The Avengers isn't going to make getting beat easy. Or likely.
Before the Memorial Day weekend ends, the superhero adventure is expected to have reached $500 million at the domestic box office.
Here's a scouting report on the remaining summer movies with the best any shot at surpassing the history-making blockbuster:
1. The Dark Knight Rises: As of now, only three films ever have hit the $500 million jackpot: Avatar, Titanic and The Dark Knight. Since James Cameron doesn't have a movie out this summer, that leaves this sequel, slated for a July 20 release, as The Avengers' most fearsome and legitimate competition. "But I think there's a lot of skeptism about it matching The Avengers because [2008's] Dark Knight was such a unique set of circumstances, with Heath Ledger's death," Box Office Prophets box-office analyst Reagen Sulewski says. Another factor: 3-D ticket prices—The Avengers has feasted on them; The Dark Knight Rises will be abstaining. Then again, DKR is a Christopher Nolan Batman movie—probably the last in this Caped Crusader cycle. Says Sulewski: "You just never know."
2. The Amazing Spider-Man: Four of the Top 20 domestic hits of all-time are based on comics; of that group, two are Spider-Man movies. So, the Webslinger is not to be dismissed. Except maybe this time. "Reboots almost always take a step backward," Sulewski says, citing the examples of Batman Begins, Superman Returns and X-Men: First Class. Not one of those films was as dominant as its storied predecessor.
3. Men in Black 3: Not many stars have starred in $500 million hits; Will Smith has (only after Independence Day's mid-1990s haul is adjusted for inflation, but still…). Combine that with the MiB series' own talent for money-making, and you've got a movie primed to take down The Avengers—in the short run, that is. MiB3, which opened Friday, is expected to break The Avengers' win streak at the weekend box office, but, no, in the end it's not expected to gross much more than its earlier films grossed a decade ago.
The Bottom Line: The Avengers isn't vying for the summer crown as much as its vying for history. Sulewski, for one, thinks it's got a shot at moving past Titanic. "[And] anytime we're talking about giant numbers," he says of the competition, "none of these movies need to hang their heads."