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'Avengers' add $103.2M in sprint to $1 billion
LOS ANGELES (AP) — "The Avengers" is taking a page out of Superman's comic book — flying faster than a speeding bullet to the billion-dollar mark at the box office.
The superhero blockbuster took in $103.2 million to lead for a second-straight weekend, raising its domestic total to $373.2 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.
With $95.4 million more overseas, "The Avengers" lifted its international receipts to $628.9 million and a worldwide haul of just over $1 billion, only 19 days after it began rolling out in some markets.
"You never think that it can happen this quickly," said Dave Hollis, head of distribution for Disney, whose Marvel Studios unit produced the ensemble film after a long buildup in its solo superhero outings. "You hope you can get to this day, and the fact that it is happening this early is a testament to a lot of work that went in on the Marvel side over the last six years to get us to a place where people wanted to see the Avengers assemble."
"The Avengers" easily fended off Johnny Depp and Tim Burton's vampire romp "Dark Shadows," which had a so-so domestic start of $28.8 million to finish a distant No. 2.
That's far below such past Depp-Burton collaborations as "Alice in Wonderland," which opened with $116.1 million, and "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," which debuted with $56.2 million.
"Dark Shadows" added $36.7 million in 42 overseas markets for a worldwide total of $65.5 million.
"The Avengers" was the first movie ever to pull in more than $100 million domestically in its second weekend, passing the previous best of $75.6 million for "Avatar." The film also topped $300 million domestically Saturday after just nine days in release, beating the previous record set by "The Dark Knight," which hit that mark in 10 days.
Already the year's biggest hit worldwide, "The Avengers" is on the verge of passing "The Hunger Games" at $386.9 million to become the top-grossing film domestically for 2012.
Revenue for "The Avengers" was off just 50 percent from the film's domestic debut of $207.4 million the previous weekend, a remarkable hold given how big it started.
A round-up of such Marvel idols as Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Captain America (Chris Evans) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth), "The Avengers" has shot past the revenues that its solo superhero predecessors took in for their entire runs. The best of those domestically was "Iron Man" with $318.4 million.
"There has been a surprise around every corner with this picture in terms of how high is high and how big is big," Disney's Hollis said.
Inspired by the supernatural soap opera that debuted on TV in the mid-1960s, "Dark Shadows" stars Depp as an 18th century vampire who is freed after two centuries of burial and returns to his ancestral homestead in the 1970s, aiming to rebuild the family fortunes.
The TV show has only a cult following, so the Warner Bros. update relied on the lure of a reunion between frequent collaborators Depp and Burton taking on another otherworldly tale. But "Dark Shadows" left both critics and audiences cold, failing to make much of a dent in the intense appeal of "The Avengers."
"Certainly, more is better, but it was a busy weekend, especially with 'Avengers' doing $100 million in its second weekend," said Dan Fellman, head of distribution at Warner Bros. "The box office can only expand so much, and that was a hard one to anticipate. Those numbers are staggering."