"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.
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.
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."
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.