LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Superhero sequel Avengers: Age of Ultron pummelled its rivals at the North American box office this weekend, delivering another Hulk-sized haul as it surged towards a worldwide take of US$1 billion (S$1.33 billion), estimated figures showed Sunday.
The latest big-screen offering based on the iconic Marvel comics characters earned US$77.2 million in ticket sales in the United States and Canada, taking its worldwide earnings to US$875 million in barely three weeks, figures from box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations showed.
The film starring Chris Evans (Captain America), Robert Downey Jr (Iron Man), Mark Ruffalo (The Hulk), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow) and Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye), sees the super team battling to save the earth from destruction by the villainous robot Ultron.
The Avengers success was trouble for new release Hot Pursuit, a comedy starring Reese Witherspoon as a cop attempting to protect the widow of a drug lord, played by Sofia Vergara, as they are pursued by assorted crooks.
The movie took second place with a disappointing US$13.3 million after receiving a mauling from critics.
The Rotten Tomatoes review aggregator gave the film a score of just six per cent, with one critic branding it "a complete and total comic misfire that is almost painful to watch".
Outside of the top two, no other film managed to make it past the US$10 million barrier, reflecting the dominance of Avengers as the summer blockbuster season gets into swing.
Third place went to fantasy drama The Age of Adaline starring Blake Lively as a woman in the 1920s who mysteriously stops aging after being involved in a car accident. The film took US$5.6 million.
The fourth spot went to Furious 7, the latest successful instalment of the Fast and Furious franchise, which added US$5.3 million, bringing its North American haul to US$338.4 million.
Fifth went to Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 with US$5.2 million, just ahead of acclaimed science fiction thriller Ex Machina in sixth with US$3.5 million.
Home, an animated children's film about an unpopular space alien forced to flee his own kind, was seventh with US$3 million.
Eighth was taken by Woman in Gold, the true story of a Holocaust survivor trying to get back her Nazi-looted artwork from Austria. It earned just over US$1.6 million.
Disney's live action version of Cinderella was next with US$1.57 million, ahead of social media horror flick Unfriended, 10th with US$1.4 million.