NEW YORK • The Marvel franchise's shiniest jewel, Avengers: Infinity War, rampaged through the weekend with US$630 million (S$834 million) worldwide - easily the biggest global opening of all time.
Expectations were high for Infinity War, the first instalment of a two-part finale, which will wrap up a whopping 20-film Disney franchise. The movie features a host of brand-name stars - Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Don Cheadle, Benedict Cumberbatch and dozens more - as the heroes assemble to take down Thanos (Josh Brolin), the series' biggest baddie yet.
Disney poured in about US$300 million to make the movie and about US$150 million to market it, sending the extensive cast around the world and to nearly every talk show.
The investments paid off. The US$630-million global opening for Infinity War crushed the previous record-holder, The Fate Of The Furious, which arrived last year to a now seemingly pedestrian US$542 million.
Incredibly, Infinity War sprinted to first place without the enormous markets of China or Russia, where it will open in the next two weeks.
Domestically, the film put up a cool US$250 million and was celebrated in Hollywood as the biggest opening ever.
When adjusted for inflation, though, Infinity War lags slightly behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which arrived in 2015 to about US$261 million in today's dollars.
Disney now holds nine of the top 10 North American openings of all time - six of which are part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. "The result is a reflection of 10 years of work: of developing this universe, creating stakes as big as they were, characters that matter and stories and worlds that people have come to love," Mr Bob Hollis, Disney's president of distribution, said in a telephone interview.
Avengers: Infinity War will next set its sights on records such as the fastest film to reach US$1 billion and the highest gross ever.
The film's endurance should be lifted by mostly positive reviews from critics, as well as an A rating from audiences in CinemaScore exit polls. And it is highly likely that superfans will boost the gross by returning to theatres multiple times.
The ear-popping heights Marvel reaches with each new movie suggests that superhero fatigue has not set in and that these kinds of films can break records with relatively little effort.
But, just last year, Justice League crawled into theatres with US$94 million - flop territory considering it was roughly as expensive as Infinity War.