Avengers performs box office heroics
LOS ANGELES (AP):
The Avengers are mighty, but not enough to beat themselves. The Marvel and Disney sequel earned a staggering US$187.7 million in its debut weekend, making it the second biggest US opening of all time, according to Rentrak estimates yesterday.
But Avengers: Age of Ultron failed to top the all-time record of the first film's US$207.4 million debut in 2012.
Although Ultron was the only new film in wide release last weekend, it had some significant small-screen competition - the Kentucky Derby, the NBA playoffs and the Floyd Mayweather Jr/Manny Pacquiao fight.
Numbers could shift by the time today's actual figures roll in, but it seems the robust counter-programming may have blockaded another record for Marvel and Disney.
Still, for Disney's head of distribution Dave Hollis, the weekend was a "spectacular result" for the film, which cost a reported US$250 million to produce.
Playing on 4,276 screens, the audiences for Ultron's debut were 59 per cent male and 41 per cent under the age of 25.
"We're in rare air here," said Hollis. "Having the second biggest opening weekend in the history of the movie business is always going to be something you walk away overwhelmingly happy with. The momentum of the brand for Marvel at this point is really something to take a step back and admire."
Marvel and Disney now boast the top three opening weekends of all time, with Avengers and its sequel taking the top two slots and Iron Man 3 in third place.
Hollis said this is "confirmation" that these films are "bringing a completely different kind of filmmaking to cinema. They're creating events and characters and building worlds in a way that is drawing the attention of huge crowds."
Rentrak's senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian agreed that the failure to top the first film is "in no way" a disappointment.
"You have to put this into perspective. Considering the level of competition this weekend in the sporting world, it shows that movie going holds its own against all other options," he said.
Also, while the first film's US$207.4 million haul might just seem like a new benchmark to hit, Dergarabedian was quick to point out that opening above US$200 million was "literally like breaking the box office sound barrier."
Instead of a new industry standard, a US$200-million opening might continue to be an industry rarity.
Ultron's future success is not in doubt either. "These other options were single events. Avengers has a very long playing time. This is a journey to US$1 billion and beyond," he said.
With US$168 million in international sales this weekend, Avengers: Age of Ultron has grossed US$627 million globally in just 12 days. The film has yet to open in China and Japan.
The rest of the top five was populated with holdovers, The Age of Adaline, Furious 7, Paul Blart: Mall Cop and the animated Home.
Following are estimated ticket sales for Friday through yesterday at US and Canadian cinemas according to Rentrak.
1. Avengers: Age of Ultron, US$187.7m ($168m international)
2. The Age of Adaline, US$6.3m
3. Furious 7, US$6.1m ($52.8m international)
4. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, US$5.6m ($4.3m international)
5. Home, US$3.3m ($17m international)
6. Cinderella, US$2.4m ($7m international)
7. Ex Machina, US$2.2m
8. Unfriended, US$2m (US$3.6m international).
9. The Longest Ride, US$1.7m (US$3.5m international)
10. Woman in Gold, US$1.7m