LOS ANGELES — The superhero saga “The Avengers” lived up to its blockbuster buzz with $178.4 million in overseas ticket sales days before it opens in U.S. theaters.
Domestic audiences generally passed on a bunch of new flicks as fans seem to be in anticipation mode for Disney’s “The Avengers,” which debuts Friday in the United States after launching in 39 other countries a week earlier.
The huge overseas launch will help fan the frenzy already in place for “The Avengers,” the superhero mash-up of Marvel Comics idols whose cast includes Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner and Samuel L. Jackson.
The Sony Screen Gems ensemble comedy “Think Like a Man” was No. 1 domestically for the second consecutive weekend with $18 million.
Four movies were bunched up for the No. 2 spot in the $11 million range: Sony’s animated comedy “The Pirates! Band of Misfits” with $11.4 million; the Warner Bros. romantic drama “The Lucky One” with $11.3 million; Lionsgate’s blockbuster “The Hunger Games” with $11.25 million; and Universal’s romantic comedy “The Five-Year Engagement” with $11.2 million.
Those four flicks were so close that their rankings from Sunday studio estimates could change once final numbers are released today.
Along with “The Pirates! Band of Misfits,” whose voice cast was led by Hugh Grant, and “Five-Year Engagement,” which stars Jason Segel and Emily Blunt, the other newcomers were Jason Statham’s action tale “Safe” from Lionsgate at No. 6 with $7.7 million and John Cusack’s Edgar Allan Poe mystery “The Raven” from Relativity Media at No. 7 with $7.3 million.
“I think going to the movies will be the No. 1 priority next weekend but clearly was not the No. 1 priority this weekend,” said Paul Dergarabedian, analyst for box-office tracker Hollywood.com.
“There’s so much anticipation for ‘The Avengers’ that the newcomers kind of got lost in the shuffle.”
“The Hunger Games” climbed to $372.5 million domestically, putting it less than $10 million behind last year’s “Harry Potter” finale, “Deathly Hallows — Part 2” — the top-grossing entry of that fantasy franchise.
“Think Like a Man” raised its domestic total to $60.9 million, while “The Lucky One” lifted its haul to $39.9 million.
Along with the United States, “The Avengers” has yet to open in other big markets, including Japan, China and Russia.