When you’ve got a picture opening the week after another film has had the biggest opening weekend of all time, well brother, you’re in for a hard road. Even if The Avengers falls 70% this weekend that would mean a little over $60 Million dollars. That’s a steep hurdle for Dark Shadows. Surely no one is expected the film to do Alice in Wonderland numbers, but Shadows appears to be caught in the wake.

Dark Shadows offers a familiar combination of Tim Burton, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, and Danny Elfman, all of whom have made at least five films together. And perhaps this is being sold as the latest iteration of their work together to the faithful. The lowest total that their work has garner is $50 Million domestic, while films like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Alice in Wonderland have been big hits. The brand seems to work better when it’s kid friendly.

This is not as childish as some of those hits, and it’s based on a property that’s a cult favorite, but doesn’t have much mainstream pull. Warner Brothers didn’t start marketing the film until virtually a month before it was released, and word has been mixed critically. But Johnny Depp, right? Well, he couldn’t get The Rum Diary open, but perhaps he needs to be playing a freak.

And this should open, but is a near $40 Million dollar total good enough against The Avengers juggernaut? And can it play quietly (or quietly in the scheme of things)? How will this do internationally, where the name Dark Shadows means less? Perhaps Depp and Burton can save it there. It’s possible that the film will do okay, not a hit or a money loser, but the big news will be The Avengers when weekend numbers start rolling in. Such is the way of freakishly big movies.

So let’s say this:

  1. The Avengers - $102 Million
  2. Dark Shadows – $36.5 Million

And then a bunch of pictures doing under $5 Million. And we’ll know more come Sunday.

What are you going to see this weekend?