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'Avengers' smashes records

The universe belongs to Marvel. "Avengers: Endgame" shattered the record for biggest opening weekend with an estimated $350 million in ticket sales domestically and $1.2 billion globally, reaching a new pinnacle in the blockbuster era that the comic-book studio has come to dominate.

The "Avengers" finale far exceeded even its own gargantuan expectations, according to studio estimates Sunday. The movie had been forecast to open between $260 million and $300 million in U.S. and Canadian theatres, but moviegoers turned out in such droves that "Endgame" blew past the previous record of $257.7 million, set last year by "Avengers: Infinity War" when it narrowly surpassed "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" ($248 million or about $266 million in inflation adjusted dollars.)

"Endgame" was just as enormous overseas. Worldwide, it obliterated the previous record of $640.5 million, also set by "Infinity War." ("Infinity War" didn't open in China, the world's second largest movie market, until two weeks after its debut.) "Endgame" set a new weekend record in China, too, where it made $330.5 million.

In one fell swoop, "Endgame" has already made more than movies like "Skyfall," ''Aquaman" and "The Dark Knight Rises" grossed in their entire runs, not accounting for inflation.

Alan Horn, Disney chairman, credited Marvel Studios and its president, Kevin Feige, for challenging "notions of what is possible at the movie theatre."

"This weekend's monumental success is a testament to the world they've envisioned, the talent involved, and their collective passion, matched by the irrepressible enthusiasm of fans around the world," Horn said in a statement.

To accommodate demand, the Walt Disney Co. released "Endgame" in more theatres — 4,662 in the U.S. and Canada — than any opening before. Advance ticketing services set new records. Early ticket buyers crashed AMC's website. And starting Thursday, some theatres even stayed open 72 hours straight.

"We've got some really tired staff," said John Fithian, president and chief executive of the National Association of Theater Owners. "I talked to an exhibitor in Kansas who said, 'I've never sold out a 7 a.m. show on Saturday morning before,' and they were doing it all across their circuit."



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