(Bloomberg) -- Walt Disney Co.’s “Avengers: Infinity War” kicked off the summer movie season with the second-biggest domestic debut in history.
“Infinity War” collected an estimated $106 million in U.S. theaters, the studio said in an email Saturday. That compares with the "Star Wars" films "The Force Awakens," which drew $119 million in December 2015, and "The Last Jedi," which took in $104 million last December.
Disney updated its opening-weekend forecast to $240 million, from a range of $225 million to $240 million, compared with independent forecasts of around $230 million. That would top the $220 million collected by "The Last Jedi" and put it within range of the record $248 million raked in by "The Force Awakens." Rivals avoided the weekend, meaning the Marvel superhero mash-up is facing little competition from other new releases.
The film is one of five summer movies from Disney that are all likely to be popular. The Burbank, California-based company is already far ahead of rivals this year thanks to the $1 billion-plus generated by “Black Panther,” a fresh hit from the company’s Marvel superhero library.
Disney originally planned to release “Infinity War” on May 4. Moving up the date put some distance between the picture, another Marvel film called “Deadpool 2” set for May 18 and another “Star Wars” movie due May 25. It also allowed the studio to begin showing “Infinity War” in almost all international markets at the same time and challenge the record worldwide opening of “The Fate of the Furious,” which debuted with $542 million for Universal Pictures in 2017.
Disney had 26 percent of the domestic box office heading into the weekend, according to researcher Box Office Mojo. The company’s summer slate will be key in reviving the North American box office and generating growth for theater owners after a tough 2017.
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