Another mighty haul saw Marvel Studios’ action epic soar to $457.1m and hold on to its number one rank for the third consecutive weekend.

The Avengers was still too strong for a slew of openers, led by Universal’s international hit Battleship, Paramount’s Sacha Baron Cohen comedy The Dictator and Lionsgate’s comedy What To Expect When You’re Expecting.

Crooked Arrows opened through Branded / Peck Entertainment on $280,000 from 55 theatres, while SPC launched Hysteria on $40,000 from five.

Next weekend is Memorial Day weekend when the wide releases will be the return of Will Smith in Columbia’s Men In Black III and horror story Chernobyl Diaries through Warner Bros.

Estimated Top 10 North America May 18-20 2012
Film (Dist) / Est wkd gross / Est total to date

1 (1) The Avengers (Buena Vista) WDSMPI $55.1m $457.1m

2 (-) Battleship (Universal) UPI $25.3m –

3 (-) The Dictator (Paramount) PPI $17.4m $24.5m

4 (2) Dark Shadows (Warner Bros) WBPI $12.8m $50.9m

5  (-) What To Expect When You’re Expecting (Lionsgate) Lionsgate Int’l $10.5m —

6 (8) Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (Fox Searchlight) $3.3m $8.3m

7 (4) The Hunger Games (Lionsgate) Lionsgate $3m $391.6m

8 (3) Think Like A Man (Screen Gems) SPRI $2.7m $85.9m

9 (5) The Lucky One (Warner Bros) WBPI $1.8m $56.9m

10 (7) The Pirates: Band Of Misfits (Sony) SPRI $1.5m $25.4m