After just 19 days, Disney-Marvel’s “The Avengers” is expected to cross $1 billion at the global box office today. With “Avatar” it will hold the record for the pic to most quickly reach that threshold.

Worldwide tally for “Avengers” was boosted by a remarkable soph-sesh Stateside outing of $103.2 million, down just 50%, which far surpassed “Avatar’s” previous $75.6 million benchmark for the all-time biggest second weekend tally domestically.

The superhero pic’s weekend perf included $95.4 million overseas, lifting the international tally to $628.9 million. Stateside cume is $373.2 million.

“Avengers” continues to blow past industry expectations both domestically and abroad, but given a packed summer sked, the blockbuster is highly unlikely to overtake “Avatar’s” $2.78 billion all-time global bar. The same goes for domestic and international records: “Avatar” holds both, with $760 million and $2.02 billion, respectively.

“Avengers” marks only the 12th film to breach the billion-dollar threshold — but the fifth for Disney.

“We’re obviously thrilled with the global success of ‘The Avengers,'” said Disney chief Bob Iger. “It’s a fantastic movie and an extraordinary franchise that will continue with more great stories and compelling characters for years to come.”

The Disney-Marvel film took a big bite this weekend out of Warner Bros.’ Tim Burton-Johnny Depp collaboration “Dark Shadows,” which fell short of expectations with an estimated $28.8 million. The film did better overseas, with $36.7 million from 42 territories.

“Dark Shadows” was projected to land somewhere in the mid-$30 millions domestically — a meh $550,000 midnight start suggested it could, based on previous summer comparisons. But hulk-sized competition from “Avengers” on Saturday and Sunday stunted the pic’s growth.

At the Stateside specialty B.O., Fox Searchlight offered successful counterprogramming for the second straight weekend with “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” — but this time on a much wider scale.

FSL added more than 150 locations for “Hotel,” which drew an estimated $2.7 million ($14,888 per screen) through Sunday for a cume of $3.7 million. The film’s box office with “Avengers” in the market is made more impressive given that “Hotel” has registered especially with seniors, who pay discounted ticket prices. Pic’s highest-grossing theater this weekend was in Phoenix.

Lionsgate-Pantelion’s Hispanic-targeted “Girl in Progress” also played decently outside the “Avengers” core, grossing $1.4 million from 322 locations.

‘Avengers’ fuels fan flame

As with all mega-grossers, “Avengers” is goosing its grosses with repeat business from core fanboys. But the extent of such biz clearly has bizzers stunned.

Going into the weekend, some pundits anticipated “Avengers” would fall a minimum of 55%, with a 65% dropoff seen as more realistic. Predictions accounted for more adult turnout than in opening weekend, but a lack of strict comparisons made the weekend’s guessing game more difficult to play.

The best comp lies with 2008’s “The Dark Knight,” a pic that similarly sparked an all-audience word of mouth maelstrom. But “Dark Knight,” which fell 53% in its second frame, earned $18 million more than “Avengers” during its first Monday-Thursday play period. That led some pundits to believe “Avengers” would drop more percentage-wise than “Dark Knight” weekend-to-weekend, as mid-weeks are a strong indic ator of building buzz.

Disney didn’t conduct soph-sesh exit polls for “Avengers,” though the studio’s distribution topper Dave Hollis noted: “The magnitude of this weekend isn’t possible without expanding to older audiences, non-families and repeat business. We’re hopeful that we’ll see the same resiliency throughout the balance of our run,” Hollis added.

Auds play favorites in Imax

The effect “Avengers” had on “Dark Shadows” this weekend is perhaps best illustrated by the duo’s head-to-head battle on Imax screens.

“Avengers” and “Dark Shadows” shared virtually all 275 digital Imax locations, though the former dominated with $5 million — or 81% — of Imax’s domestic tally of $6.16 million collected between the two pics. “Dark Shadows” had 20 film-only locations to itself, including New York’s Lincoln Square and the Bridge in L.A., but grossed only $1.15 million in Imax.

“It wasn’t a capacity issue,” said Warner domestic distribution chief Dan Fellman. “More audiences just preferred to see ‘Avengers’ in Imax than they did ‘Dark Shadows.'”

Fellman insisted, however, that “Dark Shadows” has a few clear weekends before any similarly targeted films open wide. Pic earned 53% of its total weekend gross from women, with over-50 auds accounting for 29% of the pic’s bow.

“At this stage, I can only look to the next few weekends to see how it plays out,” Fellman said. “I’m cautiously optimistic.”

“Dark Shadows” managed to beat “Avengers” in France, grossing $4.6 million, 30% better than “Sweeney Todd” locally. In Russia, “Dark Shadows” debuted at No. 2 with $5.3 million; the U.K. contributed an estimated $4 million. The film is slated to bow May 19 in Japan, followed by Brazil and Mexico on June 22.

Blighty currently stands as the top-grossing overseas market for “Avengers,” with $65.7 million, followed by China ($52.3 million), Mexico ($49.6 million) and Brazil ($44.6 million). Pic’s been released in 95% of the international marketplace.