A smashing $80.5 million Friday has "The Avengers" poised to challenge the record for the biggest box office opening ever.
"The Avengers" is now projected to take in around $170 million at the domestic box office over the weekend. The Friday haul, the second-biggest single-day gross ever, puts Disney and Marvel Entertainment's superhero mashup in the rare air of last year's "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2," which set the first-weekend standard at $169.1 million. That movie took in $91.1 million on its first day, also a record.
"The Avengers" surpassed its $220 million production costs some time ago. The film added another $30.3 million overseas on Friday, raising its foreign gross to $334 million.
"The Avengers" has already passed the total international box office cumes for "Captain America" ($192M), "Iron Man," ($266.7M), "Thor"($268.3M) and "Iron Man 2" ($311.5M).
Word-of-mouth -- the film received an A+ CinemaScore rating from Friday audiences -- is helping. At one point Friday, online movie seller Fandango was selling 19 tickets per second to "The Avengers," spokesman Harry Medved told TheWrap Saturday morning.
"The Avengers" is playing at 4,349 North American locations this weekend, 3,364 of which are 3D, with 275 Imax screens.
Screen Gems' "Think Like A Man," did an estimated $2.6 million Friday, bringing its cumulative domestic gross to $67.7 million.
"The Pirates! Band of Misfits," from Aardman and Sony Pictures Animation, took in $1.3 million at 3,358 locations.
On the indie front, CBS Films' "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" grossed $76,000 Friday to lift its cumulative gross past the $8 million mark.
"The Avengers" roared out of the box office gate, grossing $18.7 million from roughly 2,500 midnight screenings to kick off its North American debut.
Of that, $1.31 million came from 273 Imax theaters.
"Deathly Hallows, Part 2" brought in a whopping $43.5 million at midnight shows last year on its way to its record weekend and ""The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn" made $30.3 million in midnight shows on its way to a $138.1 million debut.
More recently, "The Hunger Games" brought in $19.7 million from midnight showings on its way to a $155 million opening weekend. "The Dark Knight" earned $18.5 million at midnight back in 2008, and went on to a $158 million debut weekend.
"Iron Man 2." however, did $7.5 million in midnight shows and still went on to post Marvel's best opening weekend ever at $159.9 million in 2010.
The ensemble cast of "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.