Weekend Box Office: One for the Ages

In the new film Avengers: Age of Ultron, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes™ face off against several villainous individuals out to destroy the world. In the real world, the superhero squad found themselves up against a foe that may have caused more damage than the evil robot Ultron and his army of minions: Saturday night’s Manny Pacquiao – Floyd Mayweather boxing match.

The 2015 Summer Movie Season officially kicked off in North America this weekend as Marvel/Disney’s Avengers: Age of Ultron began its domestic run Thursday night and finished with a massive $187.7 million. Analysts expected the Joss Whedon sequel to open close to or higher than its 2012 predecessor, but Saturday night’s match –and its $100 viewing price tag and $400 million gross- made sure that didn’t happen.

Three years ago this weekend Marvel’s The Avengers arrived on the scene and preceded to Hulk Smash every conceivable box office record it could get its hands on. After nabbing $207 million on its opening weekend, the Joss Whedon-directed superhero flick went on to gross a head-spinning $623 million in North America and an additional $895 million from foreign markets. The $1.5 billion final gross was good enough to currently make the $220 million production the third highest-grossing film of all time right behind Avatar and Titanic.

While The Avengers helped elevate the box office fortunes for Marvel Phase Two sequels Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the same probably will not be said about the Phase Two capper Avengers: Age of Ultron. While $187 million is absolutely nothing to dismiss, its opening on 4,276 screens was ten percent lower than the 2012 film.

Sequels tend to burn out faster than their predecessors and with Ultron scoring slightly lower critical marks than The Avengers from both critics and ticket buyers, the chances of it hitting or surpassing $623 million are slim to none. Ultron should easily become 2015’s biggest hit -at least until the new Star Wars arrives in December- but it will most likely finish around $450-475 million.

The daily financial breakdown on Ultron: Friday was a massive $84.4 million, $27 million of which came from Thursday night shows starting at 7PM. Saturday was 32% lower with $57.2 million while Sunday is being forecasted to come in at $46 million, a more modest drop of 20%. Premium large format and IMAX 3D venues accounted for a big $35 million in estimated sales. Foreign sales for the weekend were $169 million from 88 markets, slightly down from the film’s $201 million the weekend before. Age of Ultron has brought in a mighty $627 million after only twelve days of release. The next Avengers movie, Infinity Wars Part One, is due in 2018.

With the Marvel blockbuster commanding 82 percent of the box office in North America, there wasn’t much left for the other films in the top ten. The other film with “Age” in the title, Lionsgate’s The Age of Adaline, dipped 53% from its opening weekend while remaining in second place. The Blake Lively drama earned $6.25 million from 2,991 screens to bring its ten-day total to $23.4 million. A final haul near $35 million is possible.

In third place was Universal’s megahit Furious 7. The action epic took a direct hit from the arrival of Ultron and lost 66% of its audience in its fifth weekend of release. Still on 3,305 screens Furious 7 added $6.1 million to its domestic total, which now stands at $330.5 million. The film may be able to make its way to the $345 million mark by the end of its run. With $1.1 billion contributed from foreign markets, Furious 7 is currently the fourth highest-grossing film of all time worldwide (pre-inflation). Whether it has enough in the tank to overtake The Avengers to finish third on the list remains to be seen.

Fourth place went to Sony’s Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 with $5.5 million. Down 62% the Kevin James comedy flick has earned $51.2 million after three weeks of release. Rounding out the top five was Fox/Dreamworks’ Home with an estimated $3.3 million from 2,852 theaters. Off 59%, the family hit has brought in $158 million and should finish its run around $165 million.

Outside the top five:

  1. Cinderella (Disney) $2.3 million (-15%); $193.6 million
  1. Ex Machina (A24) $2.23 million (-58%); $10.9 million
  1. Unfriended (Universal) $2 million (-68%); $28.5 million
  1. The Longest Ride (Fox) $1.7 million (-60%); $33.2 million
  1. Woman In Gold (Weinstein) $1.68 million (-50%); $24.5 million

Next weekend sees the arrival of the Reese Witherspoon/Sofia Vergara comedy Hot Pursuit, which should do well as counterprogramming against Thor and his friends but not well enough to take the number one spot.

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