LOS ANGELES • Early demand for Walt Disney's Avengers: Endgame tickets crashed websites and set records on Tuesday, underscoring predictions that it will deliver the biggest opening weekend of all time later this month.
AMC Entertainment Holdings, the biggest American theatre chain, could not handle the traffic when tickets first went on sale. Fandango, a top ticket supplier, also struggled to meet demand and had to put customers in lengthy queues before they could order.
Even with the glitches, Endgame broke Fandango's first-day American sales record, topping Star Wars: The Force Awakens from 2015.
Disney's Marvel Studios also released a new trailer for the film, helping stoke excitement.
AMC likened its website crash to the moment in the previous Avengers movie when villain Thanos kills half the people in the universe.
"We want everyone to be able to grab their Avengers: Endgame tickets, but it looks like we've gotten Thanos' snap," the movie chain told customers on Twitter.
Regal, another theatre chain, said sales were outpacing all previous Marvel movies. Within eight hours of tickets being offered, Endgame had doubled the entire first week of Avengers: Infinity War last year, Regal said in a statement.
The new Avengers movie, which brings together multiple comic book characters - including Iron Man, Captain Marvel, Black Widow, Thor and Ant-Man - marks the conclusion of 22 Marvel films. Fan surveys last year showed it was the most anticipated film of this year.
Avengers: Endgame starts its movie theatre roll-out on April 24 in several countries like Australia, China and Singapore before arriving in the United States on April 25.
On eBay, a single ticket for a first-day Imax screening in Hollywood was being offered for US$500 (S$676). Starting bids for other tickets were around US$35 each.
Fans took to social media to complain about websites crashing, error codes and long waits to get their tickets.
"Took me 5 hours to get #AvengersEndgame tickets," tweeted Meghan Keatley.
"It's been hours and they paused the site," a fan called Bakuhoe wrote on Twitter. Five hours later Bakuhoe tweeted, "It was fun waiting with y'all, hope you all get tickets and we can suffer at the diabolical hands of Marvel together."
Avengers: Infinity War was the biggest movie of last year, grossing US$2.04 billion at the worldwide box office. Star Wars: The Force Awakens, with a global box office of US$2.06 billion, is the third biggest movie of all time after Avatar (2009) and Titanic (1997), respectively.
Box Office Pro is forecasting opening-weekend sales of US$265 million in North America for Endgame. It also projects US$645 million for the film's full domestic run.