LOS ANGELES: The superhero saga "The Avengers" lived up to its blockbuster buzz with $178.4 million in overseas ticket sales days before it opens in US theaters.
Domestic audiences generally passed on a bunch of new films as fans seem to be in anticipation mode for Disney's ''The Avengers,'' which debuts Friday in the United States after launching in 39 other countries a week earlier.
The huge overseas launch will help fan the frenzy already in place for ''The Avengers,'' the superhero mash-up of Marvel Comics idols whose cast includes Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner and Samuel L. Jackson.
''You hope that the magnitude of this kind of opening sends a signal that this is a for-everyone film,'' said Dave Hollis, head of distribution for Disney. ''You can't put up these kinds of numbers if it's just for guys or just for the fans. These numbers say that it is for everyone, 8 to 80.''
Romantic comedy "Think Like a Man" easily beat four new films to win the US and Canadian box office race for a second time leading domestic charts with an $18.0 million total from Friday through Sunday, according to studio estimates compiled by Reuters on Sunday.
Big-budget, effects-filled "Avengers" hauled in a massive $178.4 million since Wednesday from theaters in 39 international markets, Walt Disney Co said. The 3D film from Disney's Marvel studio set opening-weekend records in 12 territories including Mexico and Brazil and opening-day records in four countries.
"Avengers" reaches North American (US and Canadian) theaters on Friday to kick off the summer movie season. Box office forecasters predict super-sized sales that will rival this year's record set by teen death match drama "The Hunger Games," a blockbuster that debuted in March with $152.5 million domestically.
Anticipation for "Avengers" likely kept many filmgoers home from multiplexes this weekend, said Paul Dergarabedian, president of the box office division of Hollywood.com. Overall ticket sales slumped 30 percent from the same weekend last year.
"It just seemed like audiences are saving their time and money for next weekend" and the "Avengers" debut, he said.
"Think Like a Man" brought its 10-day sales to $60.9 million. The movie features an ensemble cast and is based on a best-selling relationship guide by comedian Steve Harvey.
Among the newcomers, animated family film "The Pirates! Band of Misfits" performed best with $11.4 million and second place. The film cost about $55 million to make. Total sales overseas, where the movie has been playing since late March, rang up at $75.1 million through Sunday.
Close behind in third place, love story "The Lucky One" took in $11.32 million domestically during its second weekend in theaters.
Action movie "The Hunger Games" slipped to fourth with $11.25 million. Worldwide sales to date reached $601 million, distributor Lions Gate Entertainment Corp said.
"Five-Year Engagement" opened at a disappointing No. 5 with $11.2 million, slightly below projections by Universal Pictures for the low-teens. The movie stars Jason Segel and Emily Blunt as a couple whose walk down the aisle runs into repeated interruptions. Audiences had a lukewarm reception, grading the movie a "B-minus" in polling by survey firm CinemaScore.
Universal and privately held Relativity Media produced "Five-Year Engagement" for about $30 million. "A reasonably priced film that slightly underperforms is not the worst thing in world," said Nikki Rocco, Universal's president of distribution.
New thriller "Safe" secured $7.7 million and the No. 6 slot. The movie stars Jason Statham as a former elite agent who takes on a mission to rescue a kidnapped girl. Another new thriller, "The Raven" starring John Cusack as Edgar Allen Poe, landed in seventh place with $7.3 million.
Sony Corp's film studio distributed "Think Like a Man" and "Pirates! Band of Misfits." Time Warner Inc's Warner Bros. studio released "The Lucky One." "The Five-Year Engagement" was distributed by Universal Pictures, a unit of Comcast Corp.
Lions Gate Entertainment Corp released "Hunger Games" and "Safe." Privately held Relativity Media released "The Raven" in the United States, and Alliance Films distributed the movie in Canada.