“The Avengers” sets box office record with midnight release

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“The Avengers” U.S. midnight opening pulled in $18.7 million at the box office last night in what turned out to be the best late-night opening in history for a film based on a comic book, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The much anticipated Marvel Comics adaptation bested “Dark Knight,” which took in $18.5 million on its opening night, but fell short of the earnings of teen franchises like the most recent Harry Potter and Twilight installments.

“The thing that I love is that it was one of the comics that were pretty steeped in sci-fi,” said Joss Whedon, the film’s director in a recent teleconference. “I love that element. It’s a realistic version of a comic book universe.”

The project is the final culmination of Marvel’s prequel push that includes the “Iron Man” movies, Hulk, Captain America and Thor. Led by Nick Fury, who’s portrayed by Samuel L. Jackson, these heroes come together to save the world from being annihilated by alien invaders.

“I felt very much like Nick Fury,” Whedon said, about bringing all of these characters together for one film. Whedon also co-wrote the screenplay. “Though, I’m not nearly as intelligent or manipulative as Nick.”

Judging by the opening night earnings and the return of audience favorites like Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, “The Avengers” is expected to be one of the summer’s biggest films.

The film, which was made by a collaboration of Disney and Marvel, kicks off the summer action-blockbuster season which will include some heavy competition. The revamped” Spiderman 3D,” “Dark Knight Rises,” another Bourne installment and “Die Hard V” are just a few titles on what might prove to be the most expensive summer film roster of all time.

“I think The Avengers is the kind of movie I grew up wanting to make,” Whedon said. “This is an old fashioned movie. It’s a little larger than life but there’s also a human element.”

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