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Friday Box Office: ‘Ultron’ Stays Huge, But Drops Far; ‘Hot Pursuit’ Flops

Friday Box Office: 'Ultron' Stays Huge, But Drops Far; 'Hot Pursuit' Flops

If Summer 2015 is going to soar, the second weekends of anticipated smashes are going to need to hold better than Marvel/Disney’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” Its $21.3 million gross is by most measures huge, both on its own and compared to the rest of the Top Ten (only $11.2 million total.) But comparing it to the first “Avengers” and considering the lack of much other movies available, its comparatively large drop is a small cloud on its performance and the overall strength of the upcoming release schedule.

Its gross is down 75% from last Friday. 2012’s initial “Avengers” dropped 64% its second Friday (both films included Thursday night early shows in the total). Last weekend the minor fly in the ointment was the film’s roughly 7% shortfall in its opening number (frequently the first sequel to a hugely successful franchise film equals or exceeds its predecessor initially). Through eight days, domestically the huge total is now 14% from the same point three years ago. Comparatively, that relative decline is likely to continue to increase, though it is certain to exceed $400 million by some distance — a major hit (not even getting into its much stronger international performance) by any standards, but far short of the $623 million last time around.

By any standard, Hot Pursuit,” Warner Bros.’ promising attempt at Mother’s Day counter-programming is a big disappointment. Even as Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara’s buddies-on-the-run comedy garners terrible reviews, more was anticipated than its weak $4.2 million Friday. That still was good enough (by some distance) for second place. The resurgent female audience clearly (in part because it’s older) seems to be more selective about what they choose to see despite the on-paper appeal for the cast and premise.

Despite “Ultron”‘s big gross, the Top Ten total fell a disheartening 19% from the same Friday last year. This reinforces the notion that despite some individual huge films, underlying weakness persists on the domestic front. Among holdovers, nothing else approached $2 million. Last year, four films did more than the two best did yesterday. Eight took in more than $1 compared to five.

Most of the rest of the holdovers though did seem to benefit somewhat from lack of elevated fresh competition, with most drops being a third or less.  Lionsgate’s “The Age of Adaline” and its $1.5 million gross was good enough for third, just ahead of the sixth Friday for “Furious 7” (Universal) at $1.4 million. Fifth went to Sony’s “Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2” (Sony) at $1.2 million.

“Ex-Machina” (A24) expanded again, now to over 2,000 theaters (+725) to take sixth with $950,000. From seventh to tenth were “Home” (20th Century Fox)/$615,000, “Unfriended” (Universal)/$442,000, “The Longest Ride” (20th Century Fox)/$442,000 and “The Woman in Gold” (Weinstein) $374,000.

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