Avengers' opening weekend so big even Marvel doubted the numbers

Harry Potter? Pfft. The Dark Knight? Forget about it. Most people expected Marvel's The Avengers to throw down the gauntlet for big movie openings this summer, but it did a lot more than that over the past three days. It turns out Earth's Mightiest Heroes threw down the gauntlet for, well, all of history.

The film netted an astronomical $205 million in North American theaters over the weekend. Not only did it set a new overall high for a weekend opening, but it destroyed the previous champ—Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2's $169.2 million—by a cool $35 million.

For comparison, The Dark Knight scored $158 million and the recent Hunger Games netted $152 million. Compared to Avengers, that looks almost like chump change.

"I'm running low on double takes," Disney distribution VP Dave Hollis told The New York Times. "As the numbers came in, we kept thinking, 'Can these numbers possibly be right?'"

Amazingly enough, the big-budget tentpole nearly made back its full budget opening weekend, as the flick took $220 million to make, not to mention a $100 million marketing push. At this rate, give it a few more days and that should all be covered.

Avengers rode a wave of positive press into the premiere, sitting at a cushy 93 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, and Marvel exec Kevin Feige said the buzz helped—plus the fact that the movie is hilariously awesome.

"People come to the movies to see giant spectacles, but what really makes the difference is over-delivering on expectations," Feige said. "Maybe it's delivering a movie that is funnier than people expected, or one that moves them a little bit more than they expected. Joss has accomplished that."

The craziest thing of all? The fact that Avengers could be unseated from the throne in just a few months, when the final installment of Christopher Nolan's Batman series, The Dark Knight Rises, opens on July 20.

Regardless of who wins, we know one thing for sure: This summer is looking good.

(Via New York Times)

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