Marvel's "Avengers: Infinity War," the only new wide release this weekend, set a record at the box office with an estimated $250-million debut in the U.S. and Canada, according to figures from measurement firm ComScore.
That makes it the highest domestic opening of all time (not adjusted for inflation) — above the $247.9-million debut of 2015's "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" — as well as the highest global opening of all time, with $630 million in worldwide receipts even without the Chinese market. (The film will open in China on May 11.)
"It's an extraordinary, extraordinary weekend," said Dave Hollis, Disney's distribution chief.
The third "Avengers" film and the 19th entry from Marvel Studios, "Infinity War" was well-received by audiences and critics, earning an 84% "fresh" rating on review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes and an A rating from user-polling firm CinemaScore.
Every film in the MCU has scored at least an A- on CinemaScore (with the exception of the first "Thor," which earned a B+). "Infinity War" is the latest in a streak of A ratings: with "Thor: The Dark World" being the last to get an A- and "Black Panther" and "Marvel's the Avengers" the only two to get an A+.
"More than anything," added Hollis, the success of "Infinity War" was a "reflection of the culmination of 10 years of work from [Marvel Studios President] Kevin Feige, [producers] Louis D'Esposito and Victoria Alonso, the entire Marvel Studios team. They've done so much in layering this universe film-by-film … and it all led to this."
With a 2-hour, 40-minute runtime, the film is among the longest of the Marvel entries. However, fans who've been waiting for an all-start superhero teamup of this caliber were nonplussed by the extended run time.
"The fans probably thought the [film] was over much too quickly," said Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst at ComScore. "And clearly no one was put off by the long running time, which proves that too much of a good thing is just fine when it comes to Marvel.
"Heck, people are more than happy to sit through an end-credits sequence worthy of its own showtime to get to what fans have come to expect at the tail end of the experience," he added, alluding to the MCU practice of teasing future installments after the credits roll.
The film, which was shot entirely with IMAX cameras, is the No. 1 Marvel debut on that format with an estimated $41 million globally — from $22.5 million in domestic ticket sales and $18.5 million in international receipts, minus China and Russia, the latter of which will launch May 3.
Films taking place in the MCU have now amassed $15.4 billion to date. Marvel holds six (and parent company Disney holds nine) of the 10 films with the biggest opening weekends of all time.
Marvel, in fact, owns two films in the top five, as "Black Panther," already a runaway success, benefited from the release of "Infinity War." "Panther," up to No. 5 from the No. 8 spot it held last week, added $4.4 million in ticket sales — the smallest decline of the top 10 at just 11% — for a cumulative $688 million. It's incredibly rare to have two films from the same franchise in the top 10 simultaneously.
"Superhero fatigue does not exist in the Marvel Cinematic Universe," said Dergarabedian, citing in particular the staying power of "Black Panther.
"It's amazing that 'Black Panther' enjoyed a boost in its box office fortunes as the halo effect of 'Infinity War' inspired fans to see both movies this weekend," he added.
"Black Panther" boasts the highest cumulative gross of all the Marvel films, followed by "Marvel's The Avengers" with $623.3 million in domestic grosses.
"'Infinity War' was absolutely a great follow-up to 'Black Panther,' which in and of itself has become a cultural phenomenon," said Hollis. "So the momentum of 'Black Panther' actually acted as a bit of a catalyst to some of the success we're seeing."
Disney hit the $1-billion mark at the domestic box office faster than any studio ever, aided in no small part by "Black Panther" and now "Infinity War," as well as "A Wrinkle in Time" and 2017 holdovers such as "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" and "Coco."
"Infinity War," which was made for $300 million, unofficially kicks off the summer blockbuster season, with films such as "Deadpool 2," "Solo," "Jurassic World" and "The Incredibles 2" all hoping to continue to bring audiences out to theaters.
While those films are all expected to perform well, Marvel is currently in a league of its own when it comes to box office numbers, Dergarabedian said.
"But there is no better way to kick off a summer than with a hit of this magnitude," he conceded. "And given the lineup of films yet to be released within the next few weeks, we could be looking at an all-time month of May revenue record. However, the sobering fact is that every movie has to stand on its own merits and deliver the goods or the box office tide could shift."
In second place, Paramount's "A Quiet Place," now in its fourth weekend, added $10.6 million in ticket sales for a cumulative $148.2 million.
Coming in third, STX Entertainment's Amy Schumer-led comedy "I Feel Pretty," now in its second weekend, earned $8.1 million for a cumulative $29.6 million.
In fourth place, Warner Bros.' "Rampage," now in its third weekend, earned $7.1 million for a cumulative $77.9 million. That film and fellow action picture "Ready Player One" were hit especially hard by "Infinity War's" box office eclipse; those films are targeted at Marvel's core demographic of 18-to-34-year-old men.
Next week, Electric Entertainment opens the horror thriller "Bad Samaritan," Pantellion premieres the "Overboard" remake and Focus Features unveils the comedy "Tully." Magnolia Pictures also drops the documentary "RBG" in limited release.
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10:40 a.m.: This article was updated with comments from Disney's distribution chief.