‘Avengers’ smashes record: $200.3 million debut

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Overall domestic revenues came in at $248 million, climbing 49 percent compared to the same weekend last year, when “Thor” opened with $65.7 million, according to box-office tracker Hollywood.com. “The Avengers” accounted for four-fifths of the weekend’s domestic receipts.

Hollywood launched a potentially record-shattering summer with a vengeance, “The Avengers” landing as just the first of three huge superhero tales that highlight a lineup filled with other blockbusters in the making.

“The Amazing Spider-Man” follows on July 3 and “The Dark Knight Rises” wraps up the current Batman series on July 20.

Until the “Harry Potter” finale, 2008’s “The Dark Knight” had held the revenue record with a $158.4 million debut. Before that, the record-holder was 2007’s “Spider-Man 3” with $151.1 million.

So anticipation for those two films could rival that of “The Avengers.”

As admission prices rise, Hollywood’s record-breakers often take in more money but sell fewer tickets than previous blockbusters. But “The Avengers” took in so much money that it’s the undisputed champ among debuts.

Based on average admission prices the years they were released, “The Dark Knight” and “Spider-Man 3” had led with about 22 million tickets sold each over opening weekend. Today’s average prices put “The Avengers” tally at around 25.6 million tickets sold.

Along with the superhero films, Hollywood’s summer lineup includes the action tales “Men in Black 3,” “G.I. Joe: Retaliation,” “Battleship,” “Total Recall” and “Prometheus,” director Ridley Scott’s return to the sci-fi territory of his horror hit “Alien.”

Big family fare includes the animated adventures “Brave,” from “Toy Story” creator Pixar Animation, and the sequels “Ice Age: Continental Drift” and “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted.”

The comedy lineup features Adam Sandler’s “That’s My Boy,” Will Ferrell’s “The Campaign” and Sacha Baron Cohen’s “The Dictator.”

“‘The Avengers’ kicks off what looks to me to be the summer box-office equivalent of the 100-year flood,” said Hollywood.com analyst Paul Dergarabedian. “This is perhaps the most perfect summer lineup in box-office history.”

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Hollywood.com. Where available, latest international numbers are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

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).

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