The massive success of Star Wars: The Force Awakens has fallen to the juggernaut that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Avengers: Infinity War, the latest installment in the Avengers franchise, made box office history and left a trail of broken records in its wake, powering to the top of the all-time opening weekend box office chart. The $258.2 million in North American ticket sales garnered by the superhero team-up movie snagged the title that was previously held by Disney's (NYSE:DIS) other hit franchise.  

The domestic record wasn't the only one to fall to Marvel's latest cinematic sensation. Avengers scored the biggest global opening in history, generating $640.9 million worldwide, racing past The Fate of the Furious, which produced $542 million in ticket sales when it opened a year ago. The feat is all the more impressive, as the Marvel masterpiece opened without the benefit of box office earnings from China or Russia, which helped Fate's drive to the top.

Thanos from Avengers: Infinity War.

Avengers: Infinity War produced a record-breaking opening weekend. Just don't try to count it all up on your fingers.  Image source: Disney.

The superhero collaboration also netted the largest ticket take for a Saturday in North America at $83 million, and a record Sunday box office of $69.2 million.

Infinity War became just the sixth film in history to break the $200 million domestic barrier in its initial frame. This gives Disney nine of the top 10 all-time box office openers.


Opening Weekend Box Office (U.S.)

Avengers: Infinity War

$258 million

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

$248 million

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

$220 million

Jurassic World

$208 million

Marvel's The Avengers

$207 million

Black Panther

$202 million

Avengers: Age of Ultron

$191 million

Captain America: Civil War

$179 million

Beauty and the Beast

$175 million

Iron Man 3

$174 million

Data source: Box Office Mojo. Chart by author.

More heroics to come

There are numerous reasons to believe that more records will fall in the weeks and months to come. Avengers: Infinity War received a "Certified Fresh" ranking of 84% on review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes, while also earning an "A" rating from audiences polled by CinemaScore.  The combination of positive reviews and notable audience reaction, as well as a halo effect from Black Panther, all contributed to the record-shattering debut weekend and provide the movie with a strong tailwind.

Additionally, there are sizable international markets that have yet to see the penultimate chapter of the Avengers saga. Infinity War won't open to Russian audiences until May 4, and won't be released in China -- the world's second largest moviegoing market -- until May 11.

Disney's president of worldwide distribution, Dave Hollis, told Deadline: "Honestly, this is a result that goes unbelievably beyond what anyone would have expected. But it's also a reflection of what 10 years of really methodical work, and a great campaign, and an unbelievably strong movie, and every single person being in the movie, and what that means for driving people into cinemas." 

Characters from Avengers: Infinity War, led by Captain America run towards an unseen foe.

Will more records fall? Image source: Disney.

10 years in the making

The journey that culminated in the record-breaking film began nearly a decade ago with the release of Iron Man. Since then, Marvel followed up that early success with 18 additional interconnected tales that have not only changed the way Hollywood views serialized storytelling, but have also netted more than $15 billion in ticket sales to date. 

I wondered aloud last week whether Avengers: Infinity War could top Black Panther. That question has been answered with a resounding "yes."

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