BREAKING… EXCLUSIVE: Marvel’s The Avengers just came on early tracking this morning “incredibly strong” exactly as Hollywood thought it would, my industry sources are telling me. This is the first Marvel film to be marketed and distributed by Disney so this is great news for the studio. The numbers tell the story: it has 23% ‘First Choice’ and 62% ‘Definite Interest for all audiences – incredibly high among men, and solid among females. With so many well known characters coming together for the first time in this PG-13 film directed by Joss Whedon in Digital 3D, RealD & IMAX 3D, the movie’s opening on May 4th timed to the official summer season start in North America will be an event. As a result, not only will this type of action film normally skew young and older male, but the early tracking is looking strong as a three- and possibly four-quadrant movie, too. One expert provided me with a box office guesstimate that this assembly of Marvel superheroes should open during its 3-day non-holiday weekend to $100+M domestic. That would make the film Marvel’s biggest opening, and its highest-grossing since Iron Man 2 ($128M opening weekend which ultimately made $312.4M domestic/$311.5M international for $623.9M worldwide). The non-holiday 3-day record is held by Warner Bros’ Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 with $169.1M. Right now Disney and theatre owners are adding screens every day for the release whose online pre-sales of tickets are already selling out. Midnight show business is expected to be phenomenal. Exactly how much the studio can gross for the first weekend depends on how many screenings each theater can pack into 72 hours by finding enough staff willing to work the extra hours and keep the pic running continuously.

The marketing campaign kicked into high gear Wednesday night for the world premiere in Hollywood at the El Capitan Theatre last night.(Text continues below)

Trailers for the film broke iTunes records twice for the most viewed trailer in a 24-hour period first in October 2011 (with over 10 million views), and then broke the record again in February 2012 with 13.7 million views in the first 24 hours. Advance tickets for the ‘Ultimate Marvel Marathon’ (5 movies in a row) leading up to the midnight release of Marvel’s The Avengers sold out in a month ahead of the release of the film in major U.S. cities and in Canada, prompting AMC to add shows to meet the demand.

Now all the studio has to do is market the heck out of the movie to grow that awareness. The Disney marketing machine hit a major speed bump with the recent John Carter fiasco, so Hollywood will be watching intently as the studio takes over the Marvel marketing duty from Paramount which also used to distribute. Setting the right tone to attract wider audiences without pissing off fanboys is  a delicate balance and a complicated one. What will help is that Disney is opening Marvel’s The Avengers first in some major markets more than a week early: April 24th and 25th in the UK, France, Spain, Mexico, Australia, Russia.

Both here and overseas, this is the movie Marvel fans have been waiting for their entire lives to see all of the marquee superheroes together for the first time: Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Captain America, Hawkeye, helped by an incredibly strong cast including Robert Downey Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner, and Tom Hiddleston. Joss Whedon directed from a story by Zak Penn and Joss Whedon with screenplay by Joss Whedon. The film is being produced by Marvel Studios’ President Kevin Feige and executive produced by Alan Fine, Jon Favreau, Stan Lee, Louis D’Esposito, Patricia Whitcher, Victoria Alonso and Jeremy Latcham. Marvel’s The Avengers is based on the Marvel comic book series “The Avengers,” first published in 1963 and a comics institution ever since.