Fri | Sep 22, 2017

Marvel-ous Avengers

Published:Tuesday | May 12, 2015 | 5:00 AM
An array of heroes in Age of Ultron
A by-the-book cop (Reese Witherspoon) and an outgoing widow (Sofía Vergara) race through Texas in ‘Hot Pursuit’.
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LOS ANGELES (AP)

The Age of Ultron is not over. The Avengers sequel topped the domestic box office for the second weekend in a row with an estimated US$77.2 million, according to Rentrak estimates Sunday.

The film has earned a staggering US$312.9 million in just 10 days in cinemas, tying with The Dark Knight to become the second-fastest film to do so.

While a wild success by any measure, the film is still lagging behind the record-setting precedent of 2012's The Avengers, which made US$103.1 million in its second weekend in theatres and had a domestic total of US$373 million at the same point in the cycle.

Avengers: Age of Ultron also added US$68.3 million internationally, bringing its worldwide total to US$875.3 million. The Disney and Marvel sequel opens in China on May 12 with midnight screenings. The midnight sellouts have even prompted Chinese IMAX screens to add 3 a.m. showings to their schedule.

Hot Pursuit failed to make a significant mark in its debut weekend, earning a less-than-impressive US$13.3 million. The Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara buddy comedy, which cost a reported US$35 million to produce, was projected to earn at least US$18 million out of the gates.

"Critics were very tough on Hot Pursuit," said Rentrak's senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian. Considering the power of female audiences at the box office and the frequency of female-driven films to overperform, the lagging enthusiasm around Hot Pursuit is puzzling.

"It was a formula that for whatever reason didn't resonate with the critics and I think that had an impact on its box office," Dergarabedian said.

Warner Bros' executive vice-president of Distribution, Jeff Goldstein, noted that the film attracted an older and primarily female audience, which is one that doesn't necessarily rush out on opening weekend to check out a film. Audiences were 62 per cent female and 82 per cent over the age of 25.

The Mother's Day holiday might help catapult the Hot Pursuit to a stronger Sunday, Goldstein said.

On paper, the weekend between Ultron's opening and next week's debut of Mad Max: Fury Road and Pitch Perfect 2 seemed like the ideal spot to place a mid-budget comedy. But it's also possible that other titles further into their runs might have divided attentions. This included the third-place film, The Age of Adaline, as well as Ex Machina, which snagged the sixth spot as it continues to expand.

"It's a very competitive marketplace out there," Dergarabedian said. "There are a lot of cool options out there right now for entertainment in cinemas."

Still, Hot Pursuit could surprise yet, especially when it reaches the small screen.

Furious 7 and Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 rounded out the top five with US$5.3 million and US$5.2 million, respectively.

Ultimately, it's still an Avengers world - at least until Mad Max: Fury Road and Pitch Perfect 2 open next weekend.

"'Ultron' is just so big. It's such a behemoth. It's hard for a newcomer to get attention," Dergarabedian said.

Following are the estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at US and Canadian cinemas, according to Rentrak.

1. Avengers: Age of Ultron - US$77.2m (US$68.3m international)

2. Hot Pursuit - US$13.3m (US$1.4m international)

3. The Age of Adaline - US$5.6m (US$2.6m international)

4. Furious 7 - US$5.3m (US$19.6m international).

5. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 - US$5.2m (US$3m international)

6. Ex Machina - USUS$3.5m

7. Home - US$3m (US$6m international)

8. Woman In Gold - US$1.7m

9. Cinderella - US$1.6m (US$4m international)

10. Unfriended - US$1.4m (US$3.2m international)

Following are estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at international cinemas (excluding the U.S. and Canada), according to Rentrak:

1. Avengers: Age of Ultron - US$68.3m

2. Furious 7 - US$19.6m

3. Chappie - US$9.8m

4. Pitch Perfect 2 - US$8.8m

5. Home - US$6m

6. Silent Separation - US$5.5m

7. Helios - US$4.8m

8. The Left Ear - US$4.3m

9. Cinderella - US$4m

10. Unfriended - US$3.2m