Yes, as a matter of fact, they did. Not only that, but the projectionist who deleted it ruined it for everyone else because that was the only digital copy Marvel had. OK, none of that second sentence is true, but imagine if it was. The United States would be on fire right now as people exercised their desire to wreck stuff when things don't go their way. Of course, people riot when they're happy to, so who knows what would actually happen?
I, for one, am sticking to the story that if the only hard copy of The Avengers was deleted, Doomsday Preppers would have another scenario to prepare for. That is, crazed fanboys doing their best "Hulk smash" imitation.
What actually happened is quite simple, and a good example of the potential issues we face as we transition to a digital-only world. Allow Twitter to explain:
AVENGERS press screening delayed because they "accidentally deleted the movie." Welcome to the digital age.
The curse of Loki: Projectionist accidentally erases The Avengers before packed a.m. screening. 143 mins of download later, Earth is saved.
Once the file was redownloaded to the server, the screening went ahead as scheduled. In case you wondering what Eric Kohn thought, he did post a follow-up tweet:
AVENGERS is fun in parts, mostly due to Hulk-related gags and Tony Stark one-liners. None of them involve explosions. But there are tons.
Furthermore, Kohn defends The Avengers being apart of the Tribeca Film Festival, something that apparently had some attendees upset because Marvel's creation wasn't artistic enough, or something:
In this case, the backlash is unfounded. Hardly anyone levels missives at Cannes for showing celebrity-studded franchise junk alongside the latest achievements by world class auteurs that usually dominate its main competition. That's partly because Tribeca is an easier target, but critiquing its inclusion of a legitimately satisfying movie on its own terms misses the point.
With that in mind, there's little doubt