Marvel's The Avengers smashed through all competition on the weekend and soared to a new, $200.3-million US domestic box office record in its North American debut.
The Avengers vaulted over the previous domestic opening weekend record set in 2011 by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2. The final instalment of the teen wizard franchise made $169.2 million US during its North American opening weekend.
Overall, The Avengers has made more than $640 million US at the worldwide box office so far. It is already a blockbuster in overseas markets, where the superhero epic opened a week earlier.
"There aren't even words, to be honest. I'm running low on double takes. Every time we looked at a number, it just got bigger than what we could have hoped for in the best-case assumption," said Disney's distribution head, Dave Hollis.
"With this film, this weekend, anything is possible."
The Avengers has been years in the making, with Marvel teasing the massive superhero team tale in previous films such as Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Captain America and Thor.
Marvel's gamble has succeeded, with both fans and critics praising The Avengers, the work of director-writer Joss Whedon (previously best known for TV's Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and singling out the performances of Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/The Hulk and Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man.
The cast also includes Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Chris Evans (Captain America), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye) and Tom Hiddleston (Loki).
Still, the summer movie season could see two other major comic-inspired titles challenge The Avengers at the box office: The Amazing Spider-Man, which hits theatres July 3, and The Dark Knight Rises, on July 20.
The Avengers also has a way to go before contesting the highest grossing films of all-time: Avatar ($2.782 billion US), Titanic ($2.175 billion US), and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 ($1.328 billion US).
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