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'The Avengers' soars to blockbuster status

Lots of superheroes add up to lots of money for "The Avengers."

The film featuring a team of Marvel Comics heroes pulled in $80.5 million in its domestic debut Friday, the second-best haul ever on opening day.

"The Avengers" trails only last year's "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2," which took in $91.1 million in its first day on the way to a record weekend of $169.2 million.

The huge opening for "The Avengers" launches what's expected to be a colossal summer for Hollywood, whose domestic revenues already were running 14 percent ahead of last year's going into the weekend.

The superhero summer continues through July with two more blockbusters in the making: "The Amazing Spider-Man" and "The Dark Knight Rises."

Produced by Disney's Marvel Studios unit, "The Avengers" already is more than halfway toward beating the opening weekends of the second and third films on the debut charts.

At No. 2 is "The Dark Knight" with $158.4 million in its first three days, while this spring's blockbuster "The Hunger Games" is No. 3 with $152.5 million.

"The Avengers" opened a week earlier in many overseas markets, where it has pulled in blockbuster cash in a matter of days. The film added $30.3 million internationally Friday, bringing its overseas haul to $334.3 million. Adding in its first-day domestic receipts, "The Avengers" has climbed to a worldwide total of $414.8 million.

Directed by Joss Whedon ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Firefly" and "Dollhouse"), "The Avengers" stars Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man; Mark Ruffalo as the Incredible Hulk's alter ego, Dr. Bruce Banner; Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow; Chris Evans as Captain America; Chris Hemsworth as Thor; and Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye.

Samuel L. Jackson plays Nick Fury, the director of the SHIELD intelligence agency who recruits the heroes to fight off an invasion of Earth plotted by Thor's wicked brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston).

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