Here's how Hollywood scored its first-ever $200 million weekend:
1. Nick Fury's S.H.I.E.L.D. Recruited Well: The Avengers, Disney exec Dave Hollis said Sunday, was the validation of "a carefully thought out plan six-plus years" in the making. All the Samuel L. Jackson cameos, and all the Avengers Initiative-related tags on Iron Man, Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk, Thor and Captain America culminated in a team-up film that, Hollis said, "found a way to make all their stories very relevant, not just for fans, not just for men."
2. Women Mattered: Among the Marvel Studios movies leading up to The Avengers, the new film, written and directed by Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon, scored the largest female opening-weekend crowd (40 percent) since Iron Man 2.
3. Theaters Were Packed All Day Long: The demographic breakdowns showed The Avengers clicked with virtually everyone. That meant families kept seats warm in the daytime, young adults and teens moved in later, and couples out on date nights dominated the evening business.
4. 3-D Was Back: Last summer, the format largely went flat. Even Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, which set an opening-weekend record with the help of 3-D ticket prices, was seen by the majority of its audience in 2-D. The Avengers flipped the equation, and the economics, with just over half of its business coming from the glasses-wearing crowd.
5. The Movies Are Back: Even before The Avengers came along, The Hunger Games was a blockbuster, and before The Hunger Games came along, movies like Safe House, The Vow and 21 Jump Street were making tidy sums. Add them all together, and ticket revenue is up nearly 20 percent over the same point last year.