We knew it was going to make a lot of money. We knew there was a possibility that it would break box office records. What we didn’t know was that ‘The Avengers’ wasn’t just going to break the record for biggest box office opening of all time — it was going to smash it. Obliterate it. Pulverize it. Treat it like the Hulk treats puny human architecture. In three days, ‘The Avengers‘ took in over $200 million at the domestic box office.

1. The Avengers: $200,300,000 ($200,300,000)

2. Think Like a Man: $8,000,000 ($73,029,000_

3. The Hunger Games: $5,700,000 ($380,727,000)

4. The Lucky One: $5,510,000 ($47,917,000)

5. The Pirates! Band of Misfits: $$5,400,000 ($18,563,000)

6. The Five-Year Engagement: $5,100,000 ($19,200,000)

7. The Raven: $2,508,000 ($12,047,000)

8. Safe: $2,470,000 ($12,874,000)

9. Chimpanzee: $2,395,000 ($23,012,000)

10. The Three Stooges: $1,800,000 ($39,637,000)

To put that all of this in perspective, the previous opening weekend record (set last year by ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2‘) was $169 million. Most of the other films in the top ten biggest openings of all time hover around each other, a difference of only five or ten million between them. A $30 million difference between ‘The Avengers’ and the number two spot is astounding. For the record, here is the updated list of the top ten biggest openings of all time:

1. The Avengers: $200.3 million

2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2: $169.1 million

3. The Dark Knight: $158.4 million

4. The Hunger Games: $152.5 million

5. Spider-Man 3: $151.1 million

6. The Twilight Saga: New Moon: $142.8 million

7. The Twilight Saga: Break Dawn Part 1: $138.1 million

8. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest: $135.6 million

9. Iron Man 2: $128.1 million

10. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1: $125 million

As huge as these numbers are for Marvel and Disney, it’s really just the cherry on top. Once you combine this total with the current international gross, ‘The Avengers’ has made $641.8 million worldwide, a total that will undoubtedly pass the one billion mark before the month is over. In addition to now having pants overflowing with incredible stacks of cash, the executives at Marvel Studios (and their corporate overlords at Disney, who can finally forget the sting of ‘John Carter‘) are looking like the smartest guys in Hollywood right now. More importantly, after years of working on the fringes as an adored geek icon, director Joss Whedon pretty much has the power to do whatever he wants next.

We now live in a world where studios are probably going to come crawling to a genuine talent like Whedon and not vice versa. This is a victory for us all.

What’s most fascinating about the success of ‘The Avengers’ (and all superhero movies in general) is how they manage to appeal to just about anyone. As culturally iconic as these characters are, box office numbers this big are not entirely driven by hardcore comic book nerds. In fact, if only comic book readers went to comic book movies, they’d all bomb: a comic series is a smash hit if it manages to sell a hundred thousand issues a month. A successful comic sells around $50,000-60,000 issues a month.  The comic crowd is dedicated crowd for sure, but it’s a small one. ‘The Avengers’ didn’t just attract those guys. It attracted their girlfriends, their parents, their younger siblings and their jock co-workers. People who would never buy an ‘Avengers’ comic book went out in droves to see ‘The Avengers.’ You will see a lot of ink spilled about only fanboys liking superhero movies. Don’t believe it. Fanboys are loud, but they’re but a small percentage. Everyone loves superhero movies and everyone loves ‘The Avengers.’

As expected, the monumental numbers for ‘The Avengers’ meant that no one saw anything else (and with many multiplexes giving so many screens to Marvel’s superhero team, you were out of luck if you actually wanted to see anything else). If there was another victor this week, it was ‘Think Like a Man,’ which brought in another $8 million for a total gross of $73 million. The surprise hit couldn’t be a more different film than ‘The Avengers,’ which made it perfect go-to counter-programming. It’ll ultimately trickle to a solid $90 million-ish finish, which will leave everyone involved nice and happy (although strong legs through May could take it to $100 million).

Not much at all is going on in the rest of the top ten, to be perfectly honest. Like prisoners awaiting some kind of execution, they’re just lingering around the box office, waiting for an onslaught of summer releases to push them out of the way. In the number three spot with $5.7 million, ‘The Hunger Games‘ can just about taste $400 million, but ‘The Avengers’ may very well steal whatever thunder it has left in the home stretch. Honestly, that $400 million benchmark is really just a formality at this point. ‘The Hunger Games’ is just about ready to end its run and it’s doing so as a massive hit.

Right under ‘The Hunger Games,’ ‘The Lucky One,’ ‘The Pirates! Band of Misfits‘ and ‘The Five-Year Engagement’ all made $5 million and change, making their positions on the top ten almost completely interchangeable. Of the three, ‘The Lucky One’ is a minor success (mainly because it was cheap to make) while ‘The Pirates! Band of Misfits’ and ‘The Five-Year Engagement’ are, er, not.

Slots seven through ten are just kind of sad. No one saw ‘Safe‘ or ‘The Raven‘ (both will end their runs with less than $20 million in the bank) and ‘Chimpanzee‘ and ‘The Three Stooges‘ are just here to take up space. The only solace these films can take is that everyone will be talking about how incredible ‘The Avengers’ did at the box office and will ignore the lackluster performance of everything else.

This Friday will see the release of the latest Tim Burton/Johnny Depp collaboration, ‘Dark Shadows.’ These two have been an unstoppable team in the past, but they have two big problems this time out: a less-than-compelling (and slow to start) marketing campaign and ‘The Avengers’ riding high into a second weekend. We’ll have all of the gruesome details on this showdown this time next week.

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