What is expected to be a super summer at the box office got a hero’s welcome from movie-goers this weekend.
Marvel’s “The Avengers” smashed the domestic revenue record like Hulk smashing through a Manhattan skyscraper with its $200.3 million debut.
The superheroic teaming of Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans) and The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) made a much bigger bang with their bow than even The Boy Who Lived’s film finale: “The Avengers” posted the biggest opening ever, blasting past the previous record of $169.2 million for the debut of last year’s “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2.”
According to the Associated Press, “The Avengers” added $151.5 million overseas over the weekend, bringing its haul to $441.5 million since it began opening internationally a week earlier.
That boosted the comic-book mashup’s global total to date to $641.8 million in barely a week and a half, more than its Marvel superhero forerunners “Iron Man,” ”Iron Man 2,” ”Thor” and “Captain America” took in during their entire runs, reports the AP.
If distributor Disney’s domestic estimate today holds when the final weekend count is released Monday, “The Avengers” would be the first movie ever to haul in $200 million in a single weekend, according to the AP.
“The Avengers” started with solid midnight crowds Friday, though nowhere near a record. Then it did $80.5 million for the full day Friday, second only to the “Harry Potter” finale’s $91.1 million first day, according to the AP.
Revenues held up much better than expected with $69.7 million Saturday, and Disney estimated that the film would bring in $50.1 million more on Sunday.
It was a big payoff that came after years of careful planning by Marvel Studios, which has included teasers for an “Avengers” dream team collaboration in its solo superhero adventures.
Directed by fanboy-favorite Joss Whedon (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”), “The Avengers” also features Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury.
By making $200 million in a single weekend, “The Avengers” redefines the standards for a blockbuster debut, Greg Foster, chairman and president of the huge-screen IMAX cinema chain, told the AP.
“If ‘The Avengers’ is any indication, we’re going to see a leap rather than a gentle little nudge into new territory, and the lineup is there to justify it going forward,” Foster said.
Crowds were so anxious to see the film on IMAX’s giant screens that Foster told the AP the company had only one problem: it ran out of seats to sell.
Overall domestic revenues for the weekend came in at $248 million, climbing 49 percent compared to the same weekend last year, when “Thor” opened with $65.7 million, according to the AP. “The Avengers” accounted for four-fifths of the weekend’s domestic receipts.
“The Avengers” is the first of three huge superhero tales that highlight a lineup filled with other potential blockbusters.
Anticipation also is high for reboot “The Amazing Spider-Man,” opening on July 3 and Batman three-quel “The Dark Knight Rises,” bowing on July 20, since those brands have record-setting box-office histories: Until the “Harry Potter” finale, 2008′s “The Dark Knight” held the domestic revenue record with its $158.4 million debut. Before that, the record-holder was 2007′s “Spider-Man 3″ with its $151.1 million opening.
To learn more about the promising blockbusters in store for this summer, click here to read The Oklahoman‘s summer movie preview.
“‘The Avengers’ kicks off what looks to me to be the summer box-office equivalent of the 100-year flood,” Hollywood.com analyst Paul Dergarabedian told the AP. “This is perhaps the most perfect summer lineup in box-office history.”
Here are the estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, as reported by the AP:
1. “The Avengers,” $200.3 million ($151.5 million international).
2. “Think Like a Man,” $8 million.
3. “The Hunger Games,” $5.7 million ($4.3 million international).
4. “The Lucky One,” $5.5 million ($5.5 million international).
5. “The Pirates! Band of Misfits,” $5.4 million ($2.6 million international).
6. “The Five-Year Engagement,” $5.1 million ($2.3 million international).
7. “The Raven,” $2.5 million.
8. “Safe,” $2.47 million ($2.2 million international).
9. “Chimpanzee,” $2.4 million.
10. “The Three Stooges,” $1.8 million.