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by Daniel Loria

Avengers: Age of Ultron is expected to cross the $500 million overseas mark today, becoming the this entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universes to reach the milestone. The Avengers sequel will be hitting the number after only 17 days in release, and without the help of key markets like China and Japan, which are due to release later this year.

Avengers: Age of Ultron has grossed $735.3 million worldwide, already surpassing the global totals of Captain America ($371M), Thor ($449M), Iron Man ($583M), Iron Man 2 ($622M), Thor: The Dark World ($645M) and Captain America: The Winter Soldier ($714M).

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PRESS RELEASE:

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COLUMBUS, Ga. & DENVER--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Carmike Cinemas, Inc. (NASDAQ:CKEC), a leading entertainment, digital cinema and 3-D motion picture presenter, today announced it has entered into a strategic partnership with Fathom Events to bring an enhanced and significantly expanded alternative programming offering to 150 Carmike locations in 31 states by the end of 2015. The initiative will encompass more than half of all Carmike locations and marks the single largest alternative programming deployment to date among major domestic movie theater operators. Carmike's expanded alternative program offering will bring guests notable sporting events, great performances and other unique entertainment from around the world, complementing Carmike's leading Hollywood studio movie slate through-out the year.

Commenting on the announcement, Carmike CEO David Passman stated, "Carmike is pleased to partner with Fathom Events to bring new and exciting entertainment options to our guests. Our alternative programming initiatives are aimed at generating additional attendance from existing as well as new moviegoers. We are committed to providing our guests with a superior entertainment experience and we are confident that Carmike's offering of popular Hollywood film titles, along with Fathom's industry leading alternative programming, will provide our patrons broader and more attractive content options."

Carmike expects to present approximately 200 special events a year at each of the participating cinemas. Carmike will begin the first phase of the rollout on May 13 with free admissions to introductory events including high-definition presentations of the ballet Swan Lake, the highly acclaimed Broadway production of The Phantom of the Opera, and the popular pop concert, Hall and Oates - Live in Dublin.

John Rubey, CEO of Fathom Events, added, "We're thrilled to partner with Carmike Cinemas to expand their alternative content offerings and bring one-of-a-kind cinema entertainment to new audiences through-out the US. We are confident moviegoers will welcome the opportunity to experience such unique performances, including live presentations from the Metropolitan Opera and other world class programming from across the performing arts, music, comedy and sports, among other exclusive Fathom offerings."

The agreement with Fathom Events represents the on-going focus by Carmike to remain the industry's leader in alternative programming. The Company recently created the Carmike Cinemas Alternative Programming and Distribution Division (APD) dedicated to curating and marketing new forms of in-theater entertainment, and has already brought several titles to audiences across the Company's circuit. In addition, Carmike's recent acquisition of Digiplex Destinations included a joint-venture partnership with DigiNext, LLC, a distributor of documentaries and independent films that takes titles from domestic theatrical release through worldwide digital downstream.

"Continuing what we started at Digiplex, Carmike is implementing an innovative business model that is helping to redefine the cinema experience and how theaters connect and engage with moviegoers," stated Bud Mayo, President of Carmike's Alternative Programming and Distribution Division. "About 60 million people see a movie every year at a Carmike theater and capturing their attention requires new offerings such as alternative content that will appeal to both avid moviegoers as well as broader segments of the overall population."

"Our unique alternative programming initiatives require months of preparation and theater personnel training. In addition, the APD team employs marketing techniques that utilize geographic targeting tools, social media strategies, and the latest technologies such as interactive in-theatre kiosks to cultivate new audiences and promote engagement with our exceptional content offerings. The Fathom partnership is a major step forward for Carmike's alternative programming initiatives and we are excited to bring our guests unparalleled entertainment experiences with new content options."

Along with the upcoming free Fathom Event offerings taking place in May, Carmike will screen the award-winning documentary, The American Nurse, by filmmaker Carolyn Jones and distributed by DigiNext. The film, which is a celebration of the nursing profession, will screen at select Carmike theaters during Nurse Appreciation Week. With strong support from local nursing groups and healthcare organizations, the movie is being presented locally in sponsorship by the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, a joint initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and AARP, together with the American Nurses Foundation. Additionally, 30 local high school students with an interest in pursuing nursing careers will be selected to receive complimentary passes to attend each of the screenings courtesy of Fresenius Kabi - the sponsor of The American Nurse Project, book and documentary.

 

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ultron.pngDisney reports that Avengers: Age of Ultron tacked on another $9.41 million on Wednesday, representing an expected 28 percent drop from Tuesday. That gives the blockbuster Marvel sequel a six-day domestic tally of $227.04 million, 11 percent ahead of the pace of Iron Man 3 and 12 percent behind the first Avengers.

In second place, The Age of Adaline eased 30 percent from last Wednesday to $0.61 million yesterday. The romantic drama has earned $25.3 million through 13 days of release.

Furious 7 held third place again with a 52 percent drop from last week to $0.48 million on Wednesday. The film has now reached a remarkable $332.65 million in domestic earnings.

In fourth place, Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 posted $0.315 million yesterday for a 39 percent week-to-week decline. The Kevin James sequel has tallied $52.6 million to-date.

Filling out the top five, indie sci-fi hit Ex Machina brought in $0.33 million as it eased 24 percent from the same day last week. A24's well-reviewed sleeper has banked $11.9 million thus far.

 

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ca-civilwar.pngBy Shawn Robbins

Whilst Avengers: Age of Ultron is sitting pretty atop its mountain of global box office earnings, Wednesday marks exactly one year before Captain America: Civil War hits theaters on May 6, 2016.

Following Ant-Man later this summer, the next Captain installment will be Marvel Studios' 13th chapter in their beloved cinematic universe. Could it mark the fifth consecutive year a Marvel flick claims the domestic summer box office throne, and join the $1 billion global club in the process?

There's a touch of irony to the potential of Civil War. As a superhero, the Captain was at one time presumed to have the weakest lucrative outlook because of a perception that the world wouldn't connect to such a patriotic hero in a decidedly mixed cultural and political climate for America. Of course, this was before The First Avenger released to solid reviews, word of mouth, and box office returns in 2011 -- laying the final brick in Marvel's lead up to the first Avengers.

Last year's Winter Soldier was met with fantastic word of mouth, and nearly doubled First Avenger's global box office take ($715 million from $371 million -- that's more than just market expansion). Now that audiences have gained an appreciation for Chris Evans' Steve Rogers, his proud alias, and what he stands for, the Captain America series has earned the role of carrying the MCU flag between Avengers movies now that Iron Man is, for the time being, on ice. 

One growing "criticism" of Marvel flicks is the strict adherence to formula. This is nearly unavoidable when you're churning out an average of two films per year, but "The Cap" has managed to stand out. First Avenger was a nostalgic throwback to wartime stories with an ending that dared leave our hero more lost and out of place than any MCU film has ever since. Winter Soldier followed that by not just pushing forward Steve's story in the modern world, but by shaking up the entire Marvel mythos with the plot-twisty collapse of S.H.I.E.L.D. -- ultimately becoming one of the most well-received Marvel films up to this point.

Civil War is poised to continue that tradition of providing the MCU its next major evolution.

The story arc on which it's loosely based is one of the most popular among Marvel fans, and was a watershed moment in the history of comic books. Pitting heroes against heroes on a massive epic scale is ripe with dramatic potential and, incidentally, was a major strength of the first Avengersnarrative.

Civil War promises to deliver on the well-established beef between Rogers and Robert Downey, Jr.'s Tony Stark, the de facto leaders of the Avengers, when the world's governments impose regulation on all superhero activity in the wake of Age of Ultron's events. This forces other heroes to take a side as allies become enemies -- and *that* is an interesting dynamic audiences should be keen on watching play out because both sides of the ensuing conflict will be supported by deeply rooted character empathy that just isn't found in most villains (Tom Hiddleston's Loki being the closest exception). Whatever the outcome is, you can bet it will have ripples throughout virtually all of Marvel's following films.

Effectively, this positions Civil War to be more than just a Captain America sequel. Think Avengers 2.5, sans Bruce Banner/Hulk and Thor (for now, anyway).

It's also confirmed that the new Peter Parker/Spider-Man will be introduced in this film. Despite that franchise's troubles in recent years, he'll be a major drawing factor if he's provided more than just a cameo. Marvel's ability to finally have creative input into that franchise (whose rights are still owned by Sony) is just the saving grace Spidey needs right now, and it will finally place one of the most popular comic book characters of any generation into the heart of Marvel's mighty universe.

Filming has only just begun, but on paper, Captain America: Civil War may already have a leg up on Summer 2016's contenders for the box office crown. That's not to say they don't have strong arsenals of their own, though: Paramount's Star Trek 3 will be taking advantage of that franchise's 50th anniversary, Fox's X-Men: Apocalypse will cap off a (thus far) well-received trilogy in epic fashion under the guidance of Bryan Singer, Sony has high hopes for its star-studded and female-driven Ghostbusters revival, while Disney itself has another contender in Pixar's long-awaited Finding Dory.

We'll discuss those and more films in the months ahead as part of our continued early glimpses into the box office future.

Follow Shawn Robbins and BoxOffice on Twitter

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By Daniel Garris

Avengers: Age of Ultron took in $13.13 million on Tuesday to dominate the daily box office for a fifth consecutive day. The blockbuster superhero sequel from Disney and Marvel was down a slim 1 percent from Monday's performance. In comparison, 2012's Marvel's The Avengers fell 6.5 percent on its first Tuesday to gross $17.68 million, while 2013's Iron Man 3 was essentially unchanged on its first Tuesday to take in $11.29 million. Avengers: Age of Ultron has grossed $217.63 million in its first five days. While that is softer than was widely expected, it still represents the second largest unadjusted five-day start of all-time (behind only The Avengers). Avengers: Age of Ultron is running 11 percent behind the $244.01 million five-day start of The Avengers and 11 percent ahead of the $196.69 million five-day take of Iron Man 3.

Lionsgate's The Age of Adaline held steady in a distant second with $0.809 million. The romantic drama starring Blake Lively was up a very strong 53 percent over Monday and down 40 percent from last Tuesday. The Age of Adaline continues to perform on the high end of expectations with a twelve-day take of $24.72 million. That places the film just 1 percent behind the recent $24.96 million twelve-day start of The Longest Ride. The Age of Adaline will hope to hold up well this coming weekend thanks in part to the Mother's Day holiday.

Furious 7 grossed $0.610 million to remain in third place. The seventh installment of Universal's blockbuster action franchise was up 24 percent over Monday and down a sharp 57 percent from last Tuesday. Furious 7 has grossed $332.17 million in 33 days, which places the film an extremely impressive 44.5 percent ahead of the $229.85 million 33-day take of 2013's Fast & Furious 6.

Sony's Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 continued to claim fourth place with $0.438 million. The Kevin James led comedy sequel increased a healthy 45 percent over Monday and fell 46 percent from last Tuesday. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 has grossed $52.26 million in 19 days. The film continues to run in line with expectations and is running 16 percent behind the $62.02 million 19-day take of 2011's Zookeeper.

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