Update, 5/7 4:15pm: It's official. Actual (as opposed to estimates) North American box office returns are in, and The Avengers scored a record-shattering 207.4m over the weekend, with it's worldwide total growing to an estimated $654.9m.
Update, 5/7: As has been the pattern, Deadline.com is reporting Monday morning that estimates for Sunday's showings of The Avengers may have been a little conservative, and rival studios are now saying Disney may have grossed as high $207.1m over its North American debut weekend and global totals may be as high as $650m through Sunday.
Actual box office totals will be released later Monday afternoon.Update, 5/6: Box office estimates for The Avengers North American debut weekend haul are growing hourly. Deadline.com reports Sunday morning that the film likely totaled a record $70m on Saturday (shattering the previous record of $51.3m for 2007's Spider-Man 3), and Disney now estimates a record $200.3m for its North American opening weekend. $200.3m destroys the previous record by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2's $169m set just last summer.
Disney is expected to also report updated international returns later Sunday, and right now it looks like The Avengers will gross a combined $640m worldwide after just 3 days of domestic release and 10 days of international release.
Iron Man 2's $623.9m worldwide box office total is officially already be broken, Spider-Man 3's $890.9m will almost certainly be eventually surpassed, and The Dark Knight's $1 billion global cume (the record for superhero/comic book films, unless we're loosely including Transformers) could well be in reach.
Update, 5/5: The Avengers continues to surprise industry watchers. Estimated to be on track to earn $65-$67m million as last as Friday evening, Disney's own Saturday morning estimates are putting its first-day North America total at over $80m, putting it on pace to break Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2's record $169m opening weekend. According to Deadline.com, The Avengers is now headed towards a record $175m weekend. Update, 5/4: The Avengers can now claim the biggest midnight opening of any comic book-based movie, edging out 2008's The Dark Knight.
The superhero-filled Marvel Studios film made $18.7 million Thursday night (Friday morning, if you want to get technical), placing it eighth overall on the top midnight opening lists, according to Box Office Mojo — behind three Harry Potters, three Twilights and The Hunger Games. The Dark Knight had an $18.5 million midnight opening, and went on to make a billion in worldwide grosses.
The Avengers has now made more than $300 million in international box office after nine days, and is projected for a combined total of nearly twice that by the end of the weekend.
Update, 5/2: According to The Hollywood Reporter, Avengers could be at a worldwide total of more than $500 million by Sunday — possibly closer to $600 million. The previous most successful Marvel Studios production was 2010's Iron Man 2, with a worldwide gross of $623 million.
The Avengers debuts midnight Thursday stateside, and is tracking for a domestic opening weekend of more than $150 million. The film also opens in China and Russia this weekend.
Keep reading Newsarama for more Avengers box office news as it becomes available.
Original story, 4/30: Marvel's The Avengers doesn't officially debut in US theaters until May 4 — despite multiple advance screenings and a slew of subsequent positive reviews (including our own) — but it's already racking up box office records in international markets, with a current total of $178.4 million, according to Box Office Mojo.
Now playing in 39 territories, Avengers set opening weekend records in Mexico, Brazil, Taiwan, the Philippines and Hong Kong, with the second-highest five day opening in Australia. The film still hasn't opened in China, Russia and Japan, with the first two countries getting it this weekend and the latter not until August.
Unsurprisingly, it looks like Avengers will have a very strong showing this coming weekend at the domestic box office. Last week, MovieTickets.com reported that their site is pre-selling more tickets for Avengers than it did for Captain America: The First Avenger, Thor, Iron Man and Iron Man 2 at the same point in their respective sales cycles — combined.