Small, moderate successes sometimes combine to experience huge results. While Hollywood reporters and studio executives are feigning shock and amazement at the record-shattering numbers produced by this weekend’s The Avengers worldwide opening, there are undoubtedly a select few visionaries in the background who are celebrating the success of a plan that has been in the works for several years. It has just now, however, culminated in near-perfect form.
It is said that patience is a virtue… In this case, the combination of patience, years of creative planning and strategic integrated marketing has set up the unprecedented success that The Avengers is experiencing. After all, it is the sixth installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, joining Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk and Thor. Each of these previous movies did moderately well at the box office, and each proved to be a link in the framework that would make up the biggest tentpole film of all-time.
The Avengers has shattered records by opening to over $200 million through Sunday at the domestic box office. Granted, the marketing budget, estimated at $100 million was in-line with a movie of this caliber– but it is the makeup of the Marvel Cinematic Universe – the very strategically detailed and often understated use of shared elements including cast, characters, plotlines, and settings that built the marketing awareness and execution to a much bigger value than the $100 million alone. As early as 2008, The Avengers was referenced in a scene following the end credits of Iron Man, and Samuel L. Jackson, as Nick Fury, set the scene for future interactions with The Avengers and the group known as S.H.I.E.L.D. with a pointed, but vague mention, obviously designed to build intrigue.
In the entertainment business, it is helpful to remember that usually, a success such as this weekend’s Avengers opening is not necessarily, as The Hollywood Reporter called it, a “shocker.” Looking back on the careful strategic planning, it is clear that massive success was always a possibility. What can be credited as a triumph, however, is the fact that in this rare case, the stars over Hollywood obviously aligned, and nearly every piece of the massive development, production, and marketing machine combined in near-perfect harmony to execute a creative business plan that has spent years in the making. Kudos to those who made it happen – I commend your creativity, your execution, and perhaps most of all, your patience. ***
Ed Nash is the President of Altius Management in Nashville, TN and works with music, comedy, film, and television clients and properties.