LOS ANGELES - Superhero sequel "Avengers: Age of Ultron" pummeled its rivals at the North American box office this weekend, delivering another Hulk-sized haul as it surged towards a worldwide take of $1 billion, estimated figures showed Sunday.
The latest big-screen offering based on the iconic Marvel comics characters earned USD$77.2 million (S$103 million) in ticket sales in the United States and Canada, taking its worldwide earnings to USD$875 million in barely three weeks, figures from box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations showed.
The film starring Chris Evans (Captain America), Robert Downey Jr (Iron Man), Mark Ruffalo (The Hulk), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow) and Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye), sees the super team battling to save the earth from destruction by the villainous robot Ultron.
The "Avengers" success was trouble for new release "Hot Pursuit", a comedy starring Reese Witherspoon as a cop attempting to protect the widow of a drug lord, played by Sofia Vergara, as they are pursued by assorted crooks.
The movie took second place with a disappointing USD$13.3 million after receiving a mauling from critics.
The Rotten Tomatoes review aggregator gave the film a score of just six per cent, with one critic branding it "a complete and total comic misfire that is almost painful to watch." Outside of the top two, no other film managed to make it past the USD$10 million barrier, reflecting the dominance of "Avengers" as the summer blockbuster season gets into swing.
Third place went to fantasy drama "The Age of Adaline" starring Blake Lively as a woman in the 1920s who mysteriously stops aging after being involved in a car accident. The film took USD$5.6 million.
The fourth spot went to "Furious 7", the latest successful instalment of the "Fast and Furious" franchise, which added USD$5.3 million, bringing its North American haul to USD$338.4 million Fifth went to "Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2" with USD$5.2 million, just ahead of acclaimed science fiction thriller "Ex Machina" in sixth with USD$3.5 million.
"Home," an animated children's film about an unpopular space alien forced to flee his own kind, was seventh with USD$3 million.
Eighth was taken by "Woman in Gold," the true story of a Holocaust survivor trying to get back her Nazi-looted artwork from Austria. It earned just over USD$1.6 million.
Disney's live action version of "Cinderella" was next with USD$1.57 million, ahead of social media horror flick "Unfriended," 10th with USD$1.4 million.