Box Office Report: 'Avengers' Eyeing $150 Mil-Plus Domestic Bow, Hits $281.1 Mil Overseas

9:48 AM PST 05/03/2012 by Pamela McClintock
Marvel
"The Avengers"

Joss Whedon's superhero mash-up officially kicks off the summer box office in North America, where it's outpacing all previous Marvel pics in advance ticket sales; at the specialty box office, "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" opens in 27 theaters in 12 cities.

Disney and Marvel Studios' The Avengers rolls out in North America at midnight Thursday after amassing a record-breaking $281.1 million at the foreign box office in only a week.

The Avengers, which unites key Marvel superhero characters, is widely predicted to clear $150 million in its domestic debut; just how much more is up for debate. All agree it will kick off the summer season in style.

Hoping to provide a respite for adult moviegoers and the arthouse set, Fox Searchlight and Participant Media open The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in 27 theaters in 12 markets, including New York and Los Angeles.

The specialty pic -- starring Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Dev Patel and Maggie Smith -- has already earned more than $70 million overseas since beginning its rollout on Feb. 24, including nearly $32 million in the U.K. and nearly $19 million in Australia.

In less than a week, Joss Whedon's Avengers has grossed more internationally than the total lifetime gross for Iron Man ($267 million), Thor ($268 million) and Captain America: The First Avenger ($192 million). It should eclipse Iron Man 2 ($311.5) by Saturday at the latest.

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Avengers should finish the weekend with a whopping global haul of at least $550 million, considering it's also launching in Russia and China.

In North America, the movie is outpacing all previous Marvel films -- including the Spider-Man franchise -- in terms of advance ticket sales, as well as last year's Transformers: Dark of the Moon, according to online ticketing service Fandango.

Spider-Man 3, debuting on the same weekend in 2007, opened to $151.1 million (then the biggest debut of all time domestically).

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In terms of weekend records, only three other films have hit $150 million or more after Spider-Man -- this year's The Hunger Games ($152.5 million), The Dark Knight ($158.4 million) and crownholder Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 ($169.2 million).

Fandango predicts that Avengers will become one of the top advance ticket-sellers of the year, and reports that 1,000 shows are already sold out.

Rival MovieTickets.com also is reporting brisk business for Avengers. More than 47 of presales are for 3D tickets, while 22 percent of presales are for IMAX 3D runs.

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