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The Avengers, the highest-grossing domestic debut in Hollywood history smashed past the pace set by the final Harry Potter movie, and is on track to have sold $641 million in tickets around the world by Sunday night, according to studio estimates gathered by Hollywood.com.
"Amazing," said analyst Paul Dergerabedian. "This is the biggest North American opening weekend debut in box office history and sets a new benchmark in what is possible in terms of theatrical revenue generation."
In a reverse of usual marketing patterns, the Walt Disney Co. opened The Avengers first in other countries, to build anticipation and word-of-mouth awareness here. It set opening weekend records in Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Hong Kong, Malaysia and the Philippines, according to the studio.
As late as Saturday morning, industry observers expected The Avengers to finish the weekend somewhat below the $169.2 million record set two summers ago by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2.
The Avengers sold an estimated $80.5 million in tickets Friday, according to studio estimates reported by Hollywood.com. Dergerabedian said the movie is getting an A-plus grade as measured by the Cinemascan service, meaning that patrons who have seen the movie are extremely likely to recommend it to friends, and to see it again.