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LOS ANGELES -- Earth's mightiest comic book heroes shattered North American box office records in the just-released "The Avengers" which debuted this weekend with an estimated $200.3 million in ticket sales, industry analysts said Sunday.
Directed by screen cult favorite Joss Whedon, the Walt Disney adventure movie brings together Marvel Comics heroes Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, and Thor as they help save Earth from bad guy, Loki.
The film, the highest-grossing debut in Hollywood history, features Robert Downey Jr (Iron Man), Chris Evans (Captain America), and Chris Hemsworth (Thor) reprising roles from their earlier stand-alone movies.
Romantic comedy "Think Like A Man," which had topped the North American box office for two weeks in a row, was kicked into second place earning $8 million, according to Exhibitor Relations. That brings its three-week total to $73.0 million, the box office tracker said.
Smash action hit "The Hunger Games" remained in third place in its seventh week on the big screen. The movie, starring Jennifer Lawrence, earned $5.7 million and has raked in more than $380 million since its opening.
Legions of fans have flocked to see the film, based on a book by Suzanne Collins, in which a teenage girl played by Lawrence fights to win a deadly television reality show featuring children in a post-apocalyptic world.
Tearjerker drama "The Lucky One," an adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks book starring Zac Efron as a US soldier back from Iraq, held onto fourth place. The movie made $5.5 million in its third weekend.
In fifth place was "The Pirates! Band of Misfits," a children's animation film from the studio that produced the "Wallace and Gromit" series earning $5.4 million on its second weekend and moving down from second place.
"The Five-Year Engagement," starring Emily Blunt and Jason Segel, dropped to sixth place, with $5 million.
"The Raven" starring John Cusack as 19th century American author Edgar Allan Poe, which has had mediocre reviews, lingered in seventh place with $2.5 million.
And the Jason Statham action flick "Safe" dropped down from sixth to eighth place with $2.4 million.
"Chimpanzee," a true-life, child-friendly adventure about a special chimp in the jungles of Ivory Coast also from the Walt Disney stable, sank to ninth, with $2.3 million.
The Farrelly brothers' comedy "The Three Stooges" rounded out the week's top 10, taking bottom place in its fourth week. The tribute to the legendary US comedy trio brought in $1.8 million.