As planned, “Avengers: Age of Ultron” hit stratospheric, if not quite record-breaking, heights its opening day. Reported Thursday night and Friday gross come in (inflation unadjusted) as $84,460,000, the second-best ever. More impressive is that the installment topped the start for the first “Avengers” ($80.6 million) and didn’t have the summer vacation matinee boost that helped “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part 2” open to $93 million.
The unadjusted record for an opening domestic weekend is currently $207 million (“The Avengers”). Despite initially outdoing the first entry, “Ultron” could fall short of besting this. The crucial first reason: intense competition from sports events this weekend — boxing, basketball playoffs and horse racing all compete for the attention of the majority male audience. The second is that popular franchise sequels tend to drop off more after their opening day (as the intensity of interest pushes ticket sales to initial shows). But wherever in its likely range ($190-210 million) “Ultron” falls, it should end up roughly $50 million better than the recent massive opening of “Furious 7” ($147 million). So any quibbling about not possibly being a record can’t deny this is a massive turn-out.
The nearly $85-million domestic start comes along with the enormous $340 million through yesterday in the rest of the world, with some countries having opened ten days ago. Friday was a holiday in many places, boosting the total. The total haul so far through the weekend will easily top $500 million. “Avengers” ended up over $1.5 billion, which the sequel stands an excellent chance of topping. China and Japan, both likely to be huge, have yet to open.
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The Top Ten total nearly doubled last year’s (led by “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” at $35 million), but “Ultron” left little room for any other title to do business. Most holdovers (no distributor risked opening against it) dropped over 50% from last Friday. Only “The Age of Adaline” (Lionsgate) and “Furious 7” (Universal) in second and third managed to (barely) do over $2 million. Both grossed just under $5 million last Friday. “Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2” (Sony) in fourth at $1.8 million was the only other entry to do seven figures.
Two animated films came in fifth and sixth — “Home” (20th Century Fox) grossed $870,000 and “Cinderella” (Buena Vista) $812,000. The latter actually jumped 10% losing 600 theaters because of second-feature drive in dates it shared with “Ultron” (with those grosses counted twice).
Universal’s horror release “Unfriended” in seventh did $777,000. A24’s up to now impressive “Ex-Machina” seemed to especially face an “Ultron” impact, in eighth with $720,000, down 58%. It still is not close to its widest potential (that comes closer next week) in 1,279 theaters, so consider it still a work in progress. “The Longest Ride” (20th Century Fox) at $610,000 and “Woman in Gold” (Weinstein) with $479,000 took the final two slots.
Three new limited openers got some decent first-day sampling. Fox Searchlight’s “Far from the Madding Crowd” topped the grosses with $54,000 in 10 theaters. The Kristen Wiig-starring comedy “Welcome to Me” (Alchemy) in only two theaters (one each in New York and Los Angeles) scored $12,800, while Albert Maysles’ documentary “Iris” in five grossed $12,800.