The Avengers tops US box office again

Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Captain America (Chris Evans) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) in The Avengers Jeremy Renner, Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson star in The Avengers

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Superhero movie The Avengers has topped the US and Canadian box office for the third week in a row, taking $55.1m (£34.8m), studio estimates suggest.

The film easily saw off new release Battleship, which took $25.4m (£16.1m).

The Avengers also raked in another $56m (£35.4m) globally over the weekend - taking its total worldwide earnings to $1.2bn (£758m).

The Disney blockbuster sees a team of Marvel comic-book heroes team up to fight an extra-terrestrial threat.

Among the cast are Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson and Chris Hemsworth - who have appeared in previous Marvel movies as Iron Man, Black Widow and Thor respectively.

Paul Dergarabedian, analyst for box-office tracker Hollywood.com, said: "The Avengers is dominating the marketplace so profoundly that the newcomers are having a tough time breaking in now."

Sacha Baron Cohen as The Dictator Sacha Baron Cohen's new film The Dictator was a new entry at number three

Universal's Battleship, which stars Liam Neeson, Taylor Kitsch and Rihanna in the adaptation of the board game, did not do as well as anticipated on its North American release.

Nikki Rocco, Universal's head of distribution, admitted: "I would be glad to be number two if we opened to a better number. But given the presence of an absolute juggernaut in the marketplace, there's nothing you can do."

Sacha Baron's latest film The Dictator, which sees the British comedian play third-world despot Admiral General Aladeen, went straight in at number three with $17.4m (£11m) over the weekend.

The Johnny Depp/Tim Burton vampire spoof Dark Shadows dropped from second place to fourth, while pregnancy comedy What to Expect When You're Expecting, starring Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Lopez, debuted at number five.

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