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Box Office Shocker: 'Avengers' Scores $80.5 Million, Second Biggest Friday Opening of All Time

Racing past all projections, Disney and Marvel Studios' The Avengers grossed $80.5 million on Friday, the second biggest single day of all time at the domestic box office.

Joss Whedon's 3D superhero extravaganza also earned a glowing A+ CinemaScore from moviegoers. Throughout Friday, Avengers was on pace to gross $65 million to $70 million for the day, but numbers shot up because of a late night surge in traffic.

Last summer, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 earned $91.1 million on its first day, the biggest day in history. It also scored the top weekend opening of all time in grossing $169.2 million. Box office observers believe Avengers could best that number and hit $170 million.

Avengers is all but assured of scoring the biggest opening for a superhero pic, beating the $158.1 million debut of The Dark Knight (the second biggest opening of all time domestically). Dark Knight -- which didn't have the advantage of the extra upcharge for a 3D ticket -- earned $67.3 million on its first Friday.

Friday's gross for Avengers included $18.7 million in Thursday midnight runs, a record for a superhero title and the eighth-best of all time.

The tentpole, which unites key Marvel superhero characters, has already earned north of $300 million overseas, topping the total lifetime grosses for Iron Man ($267 million), Thor ($268 million) and Captain America: The First Avenger ($192 million) -- whose characters also are in Avengers. It should eclipse Iron Man 2 ($311.5 million) by Saturday at the latest.