The Avengers smashed North American box office records as some of Marvel's mightiest heroes hauled in $200.3-million on its opening weekend, according to industry analysts.
Directed by cult sci-fi favourite Joss Whedon, the Walt Disney/Marvel team-up The Avengers looked well on its way to becoming the highest grossing American debutant of all time by Sunday.
The film – featuring Marvel favourites Captain America, Iron Man, Thor and the Incredible Hulk – stormed past the previous record holder, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, which earned $168.2-million in its first weekend.
Walt Disney said the film, which was first released in international markets before hitting US theatres, had already raked in around $641.8-million across the globe. Reports said that the film was on target to join the elite club of the world's few billion-dollar movies, which includes films like Titanic, Avatar, Toy Story 3 and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
"Such strong grosses signalled that this was not just a fan movie — not just a guy movie — but a movie for everyone," Dave Hollis, Disney's executive vice president for distribution told the Los Angeles Times.
The success of The Avengers will be a huge relief to Disney, which spent some $220-million to produce the film, after its massive box office flop John Carter. The Martian sci-fi flick lost the studio $200-million – one of the biggest losses of all time, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The Avengers also broke records locally, earning R15.2-million in South African theatres on its opening weekend.
In The Avengers, the group of superheroes are brought together as an international peacekeeping agency battling to save the planet from Thor's evil brother Loki and his alien army.
The film boasts an all-star cast that includes Robert Downey Jr, Samuel L Jackson, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner and Gwyneth Paltrow.