Kevin Hart, 'Hunger Games,' Tom Rothman's exit and more
"Avengers" defies skeptics for blockbuster box office
No one disputed the fact that Marvel Studios' "The Avengers" was going to be a hit. Any movie featuring Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man is a safe bet to make a lot of money. However, before "The Avengers" hit theaters there was some concern that it could match "Iron Man's" domestic gross of $318 million. Director Joss Whedon was a genre community favorite, but had struck out on the big screen with "Serenity." Moreover, Disney's massively reconstituted marketing and publicity team had few successes outside of Disney family branded fare such as "Tangled" and "The Muppets" (and many wondered why the former hadn't broken $100 million). Plus, Paramount Pictures' marketing team - the group who released Marvel Studios product before Disney bought the company - had successfully launched three franchises in "Iron Man," "Thor" and "Captain America." Disney had no need to worry. Similarly to the performance of "Spider-Man" back in 2002, the cultural recognition of five decades of "Avengers" comic books came into play and Whedon's adventure just didn't become a hit, it turned out to be the third highest grossing film of all time behind "Avatar" and "Titanic.