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'The Avengers' smashes opening-weekend record with $200.3 million

"The Avengers" is the new king of the opening weekend. The superhero movie grossed a unprecendented $200.3 million in its Friday-Sunday box-office debut, its studio estimated.

The film is the first to break $200 million in three days. It destroyed the mark held by the previous weekend record-holder, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2."

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"The Avengers" started out big--taking in $18.7 million in midnight screenings -- and got bigger: $80.5 million for all of Friday; $69.7 million on Saturday, a new record for that day; and, a projected $50.1 million on Sunday.

The film easily bested the opening-weekend performances of the Marvel Studios movies whose hero-stars were assembled for "The Avengers: Iron Man" ($99 million) and "Iron Man 2" ($128 million); "Thor" ($66 million); and, "Captain America" ($65 million).

It blew away even the superhero-record $158.4 million posted by "The Dark Knight," and raised the bar considerably for the Batman franchise's upcoming adventure, "The Dark Knight Rises," due out July 20.

"The Avengers" made money the old-fashioned way: Everybody bought tickets.

The opening-weekend audience was evenly split between the young (under age 25) and the older (over age 25), polling data showed. It was watched by women (40 percent) almost as much as men. It worked as a date-night movie (55 percent of ticket-buyers were part of couples), and a family movie (24 percent were part of a family group).

And then there was perhaps the most quaint thing of all: People went to see it in 3-D.

The once-promising, then presumed-dead format represented slightly more than half of all ticket sales.

In IMAX, the movie grossed about $15 million, roughly tying it for that format's biggest-ever opening weekend.

"IMAX had one big issue," IMAX exec Greg Foster said in an email. "We ran out of seats to sell!"

The people who saw the movie liked the movie, and, if possible, liked it more than critics. The Joss Whedon-directed film was graded an A-plus by audiences.

After just over a week in release worldwide, "The Avengers" has grossed $641.8 million overall.

Elsewhere, there was no elsewhere. "The Avengers" outgrossed the weekend's second-place movie, "Think Like a Man," which held well all things considered, by 2,500 percent, and the new Kate Hudson movie, "A Little Bit of Heaven," which averaged $894 at 11 theaters, by $200.3 million.

Here's an Avengers-revised rundown of the top 10 all-time opening weekends, as compiled per BoxOfficeMojo.com stats:

"The Avengers," $200.3 million
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2," $169.2 million
"The Dark Knight," $158.4 million
"The Hunger Games," $152.5 million
"Spider-Man 3," $151.1 million
"The Twilight Saga: New Moon," $142.8 million
"The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn--Part 1," $138.1 million
"Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," $135.6 million
"Iron Man 2," $128.1 million
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1," $125 million

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