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'Avengers' becomes third highest grossing film in box office history

LOS ANGELES--Comic book superhero blockbuster “The Avengers” was set Tuesday to become the third highest-grossing film in box office history, behind “Avatar” and “Titanic.”

Directed by cult favorite Joss Whedon, the Walt Disney Studios high-thrills action adventure made in collaboration with Marvel Comics earned US$7 million over the weekend, for a total of US$598 million since its release in early May.

And it was expected to cross the US$600 million U.S. box office threshold on Tuesday, Disney said in a statement.

Its global total, meanwhile, is now an estimated US$1,438.3 million.

“The Avengers” starring Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Downey Jr., Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson and Mark Ruffalo was made for an estimated US$220 million.

Released first abroad in April, it brings together a team of superheroes, which include Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk, Captain America and Thor, to help save the Earth from mythical prankster Loki and an alien army.

It opened in North America on May 4 with a staggering US$207.4 million in ticket sales — the biggest domestic weekend debut of all time — and has been shattering domestic box office records ever since including the industry's all-time second weekend record with US$103 million.

It was also the fastest film to reach US$200 million, in three days.

The movie's success will help mitigate Disney's US$200 million loss on the sci-fi fantasy film “John Carter” in March, which prompted the departure of Walt Disney Studios boss Rich Ross.

Only 12 films have grossed US$1 billion at the global box office. Five of them are Disney films: “The Avengers,” two “Pirates of the Caribbean” chestnuts, Tim Burton's “Alice in Wonderland” and, in collaboration with Pixar, “Toy Story 3.”

The two greatest money-making movies were Canadian James Cameron's “Avatar” (US$2.78 billion) and his “Titanic” (US$2.19 billion).

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