“Avengers” rattles records prior to US debut


The superhero saga “The Avengers” lived up to its blockbuster buzz with $178.4 million in overseas ticket sales days before it opens in U.S. theaters.

Domestic audiences generally passed on a bunch of new flicks as fans seem to be in anticipation mode for Disney’s “The Avengers,” which debuts Friday in the United States after launching in 39 other countries a week earlier.

The huge overseas launch will help fan the frenzy already in place for “The Avengers,” the superhero mash-up of Marvel Comics idols whose cast includes Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner andSamuel L. Jackson.

“You hope that the magnitude of this kind of opening sends a signal that this is a for-everyone film,” said Dave Hollis, head of distribution for Disney. “You can’t put up these kinds of numbers if it’s just for guys or just for the fans. These numbers say that it is for everyone, 8 to 80.”

The Sony Screen Gems ensemble comedy “Think Like a Man” was No. 1 domestically for the second-straight weekend with $18 million.

Four movies were bunched up for the No. 2 spot in the $11 million range: Sony’s animated comedy “The Pirates! Band of Misfits” with $11.4 million; the Warner Bros. romantic drama “The Lucky One” with $11.3 million; Lionsgate’s blockbuster “The Hunger Games” with $11.25 million; and Universal’s romantic comedy “The Five-Year Engagement” with $11.2 million.

Those four flicks were so close that their rankings from Sunday studio estimates could change once final numbers are released Monday.

Along with “Pirates,” whose voice cast was led by Hugh Grant, and “Five-Year Engagement,” which stars Jason Segel and Emily Blunt, the other newcomers were Jason Statham’s action tale “Safe” from Lionsgate at No. 6 with $7.7 million and John Cusack’s Edgar Allan Poe mystery “The Raven” from Relativity Media at No. 7 with $7.3 million.

(AP)

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