Record Avengers Sales Good News for Disney

“The Avengers” hits theaters this weekend, and that could mean big things for Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS) shareholders.

The movie based on the old Marvel comics is expected to have the biggest opening weekend of 2012, eclipsing even the near-record “Hunger Games” premiere in March. Weekend ticket sales for “The Avengers” could reach as high as $170 million, which would surpass the all-time high of $169.2 million set by last year’s “Harry Potter” finale.

 Disney owns the rights to Marvel, which now doubles as a film studio. And so far the hype surrounding “The Avengers” is doing for Disney’s stock what “The Hunger Games” opening did for shares of its production studio, Lions Gate (NYSE: LGF).

Shares of Disney stock are up 3.7% in the last week. For the year the stock is up 16%.

Lions Gate shares jumped 80% in the first three months of 2012 thanks in large part to anticipation over and smashing sales from “The Hunger Games.” But Lions Gate is a small movie studio with a market cap of just $1.5 billion.

Disney, of course, is one of the most recognizable names in the entertainment industry, with market cap of $78 billion. Considering its size, the bump the large cap stock is getting from one movie is impressive.

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