Avengers, Avatar

Twentieth Century Fox; Marvel

The Avengers only needed 10 days to top $350 million at the domestic box office. It only needed 19 days to gross $1 billion worldwide.

But even with all that, is the superhero movie going to need a miracle to take down Avatar?

More like really long legs.  

James Cameron's Avatar, the reigning box-office champ, both domestically and worldwide, took in its billions with an "s" on a "totally different trajectory," Hollywood.com box-office analyst Paul Dergarabedian reminds.

Like Cameron's Titanic before it, Avatar ran, and ran well, for nearly a year. In its first three weekends, its ticket sales barely dipped. It took another three months for the 3-D epic to experience something as substantial, but routine as a 50 percent drop in business.

The Avengers was down 50 percent this past weekend, even as its $103.1 million Friday-Sunday blew away the domestic box-office record for a second-weekend gross. (The former record-holder? Avatar.)

"The Avengers is like a sprinter," Dergarbedian says.

It's also like The Dark Knight.

In 2008, the Batman drama got off to a record-fast start. Its talent for scooping up money prompted a now-familiar question: Could the comic-book movie topple the box-office king, which at the time was Titanic?  

The answer was no. While The Dark Knight didn't crash, it didn't hold up quite as well as the unsinkable Titanic

Even as The Avengers outperforms The Dark Knight, the Marvel movie could be on the same course as its DC Comics-spawned rival.

"It's sprinting to enormous numbers, [but] to expect that it can continue on that is a tall order," Dergarabedian says.

MORE: The Avengers 2: Five Things We Think We Already Know About the Blockbuster Sequel

With The Avengers possibly exceeding $450 million at the domestic box office by the end of the coming weekend, however, the box-office watcher says, "I have learned not to underestimate this movie."   

The studio that's distributing The Avengers knows the feeling.

"Every time we've looked at what we've [expected] for that next night, that next day, it's exceeded that," says Disney exec Dave Hollis.

And, no, the movie company's not going to touch the Avatar question.

MORE: Five (or So) New Avengers We'd Like to See in Avengers 2

Says Hollis: "It's one of these things where trying to guess where we'll be has been somewhat of a dangerous proposition."

Here's a look at where The Avengers stood through Sunday, per the latest BoxOfficeMojo.com stats:

Domestic Total (10 days in theaters): $373.1 million (18th place all-time)

Overseas Total (19 days in theaters): $628.9 million

Worldwide Total: $1.004 billion (12th place all-time)

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