LOS ANGELES (BLOOMBERG/REUTERS) - Walt Disney’s Avengers: Infinity War kicked off the summer movie season with the second-biggest domestic debut in history.
Infinity War collected an estimated US$106 million (S$140 million) in US theatres, the studio said in an email on Saturday (April 28).
That compares with the Star Wars films The Force Awakens, which drew US$119 million in December 2015, and The Last Jedi, which took in US$104 million last December.
Disney updated its opening-weekend forecast to US$240 million, from a range of US$225 million to US$240 million, compared with independent forecasts of around US$230 million.
That would top the US$220 million collected by The Last Jedi and put it within range of the record US$248 million raked in by The Force Awakens.
Rivals avoided the weekend, meaning the Marvel superhero mash-up is facing little competition from other new releases.
The film is one of five summer movies from Disney that are all likely to be popular.
The Burbank, California-based company is already far ahead of rivals this year thanks to the US$1 billion-plus generated by Black Panther, a fresh hit from the company’s Marvel superhero library.
Disney originally planned to release Infinity War on May 4.
Moving up the date put some distance between the picture, another Marvel film called Deadpool 2 set for May 18 and another Star Wars movie due May 25.
It also allowed the studio to begin showing Infinity War in almost all international markets at the same time and challenge the record worldwide opening of The Fate Of The Furious, which debuted with US$542 million for Universal Pictures in 2017.
Disney had 26 per cent of the domestic box office heading into the weekend, according to researcher Box Office Mojo.
The company’s summer slate will be key in reviving the North American box office and generating growth for theatre owners after a tough 2017.
Infinity War features more than 20 superheroes from Marvel's ever-expanding cinematic universe, including Iron Man, Spider-Man, Black Panther and the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Starring Robert Downey Jr, Benedict Cumberbatch, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Evans and Josh Brolin, to name but a few, Avengers: Infinity War had a reported US$300 million to US$400 million production budget. Disney declined to comment on the budget.
Critics largely praised the movie for its ambition, scale and wit and for a jaw-dropping ending that seems designed to get audiences hooked for another installment next year.
Infinity War opened Wednesday in some overseas markets, where it has sold US$95 million worth of tickets in its first two days, Disney said.
Another, as-yet-untitled Avengers movie is in post-production and due for release in May 2019.