More than $190 million separated the top-grossing movie of the weekend and second place. And that second place film earned $8 million.
"The Avengers" shattered all box office records with the largest opening of all time, earning just over $200 million in its first weekend, and giving Disney and Marvel a hit so big, they'll be counting the money for weeks.
After a solid Friday, "The Avengers" smashed through Saturday with just under $68 million, and then beat "The Dark Knight" for the biggest Sunday ever, with a projected $50 million on what is typically a cool-off day.
How big is this opening? Well, in three days, "Avengers" beat the total domestic box office take for "Thor" ($181 million), the total domestic box office take for "Captain America: The First Avenger" ($176.7 million), and is already two-thirds of the way to beating "Iron Man 2" at the box office, which earned $312.4 million in its North American run.
Even bigger for "Avengers" is that it has already topped $440 million internationally -- a huge number for a complete run of a superhero movie overseas -- and is well on its way to having $650 million in the bank for Disney before the new week even starts.
This is by far the best opening ever for Joss Whedon as a director. His only other film, "Serenity" based on his cult favorite "Firefly" television show, earned a $10 million opening weekend in 2005, and went on to earn just $39 million ... worldwide. That fell short of the $40 million budget.
Marvel and Disney invested $225 million in "The Avengers," and are seeing returns in spades. It will pass "Dr. Seuss' The Lorax" as the No. 2 highest-grossing movie of the year (so far) by Monday, and could challenge "The Hunger Games" -- with its $380.7 million bounty -- in just another couple weeks.
However, while "The Avengers" could end up seeing $400 million domestically and likely close to $1 billion worldwide, such a huge opening is going to mean a huge second-week drop. The film is going to depend on strong word-of-mouth to keep audiences coming back, similar to what happened with "Hunger Games" earlier this year, and it might be able to achieve that.
The film has impressed 94 percent of film critics surveyed by Rotten Tomatoes, and even better, 96 percent of movie-goers recommend it. That's a survey of 234 reviewers, and 226,000 ticket-buyers.
By comparison, "Hunger Games" earned the respect of 84 percent of its critics (still a very strong rating), and got positive word-of-mouth from 85 percent of movie-goers. However, it seems that more people may be talking about "Avengers," because only 170,000 people were surveyed for "Hunger Games" through most of its entire run, while "Avengers" attracted a quarter-million to comment on its opening weekend.
"The Avengers" was written by Josh Whedon and Syfy's "Alphas" executive producer Zak Penn. It stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson and Jeremy Renner.
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