'The Avengers' earns $18.7 million at midnight showings, slightly less than 'The Hunger Games'

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The Avengers is off to a high-flying start at the box office!

The ensemble superhero film grossed an estimated $18.7 million from midnight showings across the country, according to Disney. Of that number, $1.3 million came from 273 IMAX screens.

The Avengers‘ figure slightly trails The Hunger Games, which pulled in $19.7 million at midnight on the way to a $152.5 million opening, but it’s ahead of The Dark Knight, which earned $18.5 million from midnight screenings and $158 million in its debut weekend. Thus, a finish in the $150 million range — as EW is predicting – seems likely.

Of course, older filmgoers, who don’t often sit at the theater until the wee hours of the morning, may turn up in higher volumes over the rest of the frame, which means that Avengers could climb past The Dark Knight and score the second-best debut in history Whether Avengers can compete with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2‘s opening weekend record of $169.2 million remains to be seen, but it certainly didn’t have as many midnight fans. Potter broke midnight records in July 2011 with $43.5 million overnight.

Internationally, the film also reached a major milestone yesterday. After just nine days in theaters, the film has reached $304 million overseas — already more than the international totals of Captain America ($192 million), Iron Man ($267 million), and Thor ($268 million).

Stay tuned to EW over the weekend for all your Avengers box office coverage.

Follow @EWGradySmith

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