May 6 (Bloomberg) -- “Marvel’s The Avengers” opened as the top film in U.S. and Canadian theaters, kicking off the summer movie season with a record $200.3 million in sales this weekend for Walt Disney Co.
Revenue topped the previous best of $169.2 million set by “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” last year, researcher Hollywood.com Box-Office said today in an e-mailed statement. Analysts had forecast sales of $150 million to $170 million for “The Avengers.”
Summer ticket sales are expected to surpass the record of $4.4 billion set last year, according to Jeff Bock, box-office analyst at Exhibitor Relations Co. Other films scheduled in the coming weeks include Warner Bros.’ “The Dark Knight Rises,” directed by Christopher Nolan, and Sony Corp.’s “Men in Black 3,” a sequel that reunites Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones as government agents managing Earth’s secret alien population.
“The Avengers” is the first Marvel movie Disney is distributing since buying the comic-book company for $4.2 billion in 2009. The movie provides Burbank, California-based Disney with a hit after the box-office failure of “John Carter,” the science-fiction film released in March that resulted in a $200 million loss for the company.
Rich Ross, the head of Disney’s film unit, resigned in April, and the company hasn’t yet hired a replacement. Disney is scheduled to report fiscal second-quarter results on May 8.
“The Avengers” brings together several Marvel heroes, including Iron Man, Thor and Captain America, who were featured singly in previous films. They must overcome egos and discord to band together to fight an army led by Loki, the unscrupulous god of Norse mythology. The movie stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson.
The film took in $80.5 million in first-day ticket sales on May 4, according to Hollywood.com. The revenue was the second-best single-day performance after “Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” which took in $91.1 million.
“The Avengers,” directed by Joss Whedon, was the only movie opening in wide release this weekend.
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