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'The Avengers' weekend debut shatters records

By Todd Cunningham

"The Avengers" thundered its way to box-office history, rolling up $200.3 million for the biggest three-day U.S. weekend ever.

At the same time, Disney and Marvel Entertainment's superhero mashup added another $151.5 million from 52 overseas territories this weekend to up its foreign box-office cume to $441.5 million, giving it a staggering $641.8 million here and abroad in the 12 days since its release.

Find: Why did Samuel L. Jackson lash out at film critic?
The huge opening got the summer movie season off to a roaring start. In the process, "The Avengers" blew past last year's "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2," which had held the record for the best first-weekend at $169.1 million.

Also read: 'The Avengers': 5 Things You Need to Know if You Don't Read Comic Books

Disney marketers, handling a Marvel film for the first time, capitalized on a fan base that has been building since "Iron Man" in 2008, glowing reviews and major momentum from massive foreign debuts.

"Never, ever did we think it would go this high," Dave Hollis, Disney's executive vice-president of exhibition told TheWrap on Sunday morning. "If there was one consistency about this weekend, it was that we kept getting surprised by numbers better than we could have imagined in the best case."

Related: Parallel Universe talks with the writer and director of 'The Avengers'

He said that Saturday was key, building on the strong fan-boy fueled Friday and midnight shows.

"Our $69.5 million Saturday, which set a record, showed you can cross over," Hollis said. "It became an 'everybody' picture."

The numbers back him up. "The Avengers" audience was 60 percent male and 40 percent female, and 50 percent over 25 and 50 percent under. Couples made up 55 percent of the crowds, teens 21 percent.
"As much as there were exceptional expectations, that A+ CinemaScore shows everyone left satisfied," Hollis said.

"The Avengers" is a huge hit on huge screens, too. It grossed more than $15 million on 275 IMAX screens, roughly 8 percent of the grosses and a virtual tie for best-ever with last year's "Harry Potter." In the process, it wracked up a staggering $55,000-per-screen average. In addition, "The Avengers" took in another $21 million on foreign Imax screens, upping the overall overseas Imax gross to an estimated $31.2 million.

"The Avengers" played at 4,349 North American locations this weekend, 3,364 of which are 3D.

The ensemble cast of the PG-13-rated "The Avengers" features Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner and Mark Ruffalo.

Joss Whedon co-wrote with Zak Penn and directed the film, which brings many of Marvel's pantheon of comic book superheroes together for the first time. The film is produced by Marvel Studios' President Kevin Feige and executive produced by Alan Fine, Jon Favreau, Stan Lee, Louis D'Esposito, Patricia Whitcher, Victoria Alonso and Jeremy Latcham.

Here's how the top 10 movies fared:
1. 'Marvel's The Avengers," $200.3 million
2. "Think Like a Man," $8 million
3. "The Hunger Games," $5.7 million
4. "The Lucky One," $5.5 million,
5. "Pirates! Band of Misfits," $5.4 million
6. "Five-Year Engagement," $5 million
7. "The Raven," $2.5 million
8. "Safe," $2.4 million
9. "Chimpanzee," $2.3 million
10. "The Three Stooges," $1.8 million

Also on TheWrap:
'The Avengers' on a First-Day Box-Office Rampage: $80.5M
From 'Dark Knight' to 'Dark Shadows,' the 10 Most-Anticipated Movies of the Summer

May 6, 2012 2:03PM
RIGHT!  Because tickets are getting up to the teens per ticket, these stats mean zero...
May 6, 2012 1:59PM

A great way to spend some quality time with my son who is a hard core fan of Marvel...

We were far from dissapointed throughout the film!

We're thinking that "Kang" will be the "villan" for the sequel.

The hint comes after the credits.

May 6, 2012 1:52PM
The first great Hulk on screen. That alone was worth the price of admission. Scarlet's opening scene didn't hurt either. Party
May 6, 2012 1:51PM
the movies is better than we spected AAA+++
May 6, 2012 1:42PM
You know a big draw for a lot of us is Miss Scarlett Jodoublecannson
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