In what was no doubt going to be a humongous start to what's expected to be a very successful summer at the movies, just got bigger with the news that early estimates have The Avengers surpassing the $500 million mark by the end of the weekend.
While it's North American release isn't until Friday, The Avengers has already rolled out in international theatres where it has already earned $218 million through Monday. This estimate puts The Avengers on track to set a new Marvel Studios record, besting Iron Man 2's $623 million record from 2010.
At this pace, The Avengers' foreign gross will likely grow to $350 million-$400 million by Sunday, boosted by it's debut in Russia and China this weekend.
The film is widely expected to debut north of $150 million in North America, based on the strength of prerelease tracking. Some box office observers believe it could finish the weekend with a global gross well north of $500 million, if not closer to $600 million.
Last summer, Marvel's Thor grossed $449.3 million worldwide, while Captain America: The First Avenger earned $368.6 million. The first Iron Man earned $585 million globally in 2008. The Incredible Hulk grossed $263.4 million globally the same year.