Monday Morning Update: Thanks to a stronger than expected hold on Sunday, Disney has revised its weekend estimate for Avengers: Age of Ultron to $191.3 million.
The film's actual weekend gross will be released later today.
Sunday Update: Disney's Avengers: Age of Ultron debuted with an estimated $187.66 million this weekend. While that represented the second largest opening weekend performance of all-time, it also represented a notably softer debut than had been widely expected for the film (especially after its relatively strong Thursday night launch). Instead of surpassing the $207.44 million debut of 2012's Marvel's The Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron had to settle for opening in between The Avengers and the $174.14 million debut of 2013's Iron Man 3. Avengers: Age of Ultron opened 9.5 percent below The Avengers and 8 percent ahead of Iron Man 3.
That Avengers: Age of Ultron is on course to ultimately gross less domestically than The Avengers isn't a surprise. But its opening weekend performance being softer than that of its predecessor is a surprise, in part from the fact that Avengers: Age of Ultron will in all likelihood be more front-loaded than The Avengers was, perhaps significantly so.
It should be mentioned that Saturday's performance appears to have taken a clear hit from the much hyped about and long awaited Mayweather vs. Pacquiao boxing match. Game 7 of the Los Angeles Clippers vs San Antonio Spurs NBA Playoffs series and the Kentucky Derby likely also helped take a toll on Saturday's performance as well.
Avengers: Age of Ultron took in $84.46 million on Friday (which included an estimated $27.6 million from Thursday evening shows), declined a very sharp 32 percent on Saturday to gross $57.22 million and is estimated to fall 20 percent on Sunday to gross $45.98 million. That places the film's estimated opening weekend to Friday ratio at 2.22 to 1. That is significantly more front-loaded than the 2.57 to 1 ratio of The Avengers and the 2.53 to 1 ratio of Iron Man 3.
In addition to Saturday's performance being affected by the mentioned sporting events, the early front-loading for Avengers: Age of Ultron suggests that die-hard fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe were much more excited about the film than more casual fans of the series were. It is quite possible that Furious 7 having gone over so well with moviegoers in April helped downplay anticipation a bit for Avengers: Age of Ultron with more casual fans (similarly, that appeared to happen this weekend last year when potential for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was softened a bit by the strong audience reaction to Captain America: The Winter Soldier.)
There is hope that Avengers: Age of Ultron could rebound from its early front-loading going forward, thanks in part to a strong initial audience reaction of its own. Avengers: Age of Ultron received an A rating on CinemaScore and its early audience score among Rotten Tomatoes users stands at a very strong 90 percent. On the other hand, Avengers: Age of Ultron will face tougher initial competition throughout May than The Avengers did back in 2012, at least on paper, from the combination of Universal's Pitch Perfect 2, Warner's Max Max: Fury Road, fellow Disney release Tomorrowland and to a lesser extent from Fox's Poltergeist and Warner's Hot Pursuit.
The audience breakdown for Avengers: Age of Ultron skewed towards male moviegoers (59 percent) and towards moviegoers over the age of 25 (59 percent). Family audiences represented 22 percent of the film's overall audience. Avengers: Age of Ultron grossed an estimated $18.0 million from IMAX locations, which represented 9.6 percent of the film's overall gross.
Moving past the absolute market dominance of Avengers: Age of Ultron this weekend, it was a close three-way race for second place between Lionsgate's The Age of Adaline, Universal's Furious 7 and Sony's Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2. Estimates are close enough that the three films could still change positions when actuals are released on Monday.
The Age of Adaline placed in second with an estimated $6.25 million. While the romantic drama starring Blake Lively was down a significant 53 percent from last weekend's debut, it also experienced one of the weekend's stronger percentage holds. The Age of Adaline has grossed $23.42 million in ten days. That is on the high end of pre-release expectations and places the film just below the recent $23.68 million ten-day start of The Longest Ride (which fell 46 percent in its second weekend to gross $7.02 million). With aid from Mother's Day next weekend, The Age of Adaline should experience a stronger third weekend hold than The Longest Ride did.
After leading the box office for each of the past four weekends, Furious 7 fell to third place this weekend with an estimated $6.1 million. The seventh installment of Universal's blockbuster action franchise was down a very sharp 66 percent, which was understandable given the debut of Avengers: Age of Ultron and that Saturday's sports events took a toll on the marketplace in general. Furious 7 has grossed a massive $330.52 million through 31 days of release. That places the film an extremely impressive 45 percent ahead of the $228.62 million 31-day take of 2013's Fast & Furious 6.
Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 claimed fourth place with an estimated $5.55 million. The modestly budgeted Kevin James led comedy sequel fell a sharp 62 percent from last weekend. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 has grossed $51.19 million in 17 days. The film continues to run in line with expectations and is running 13.5 percent behind the $59.21 million 17-day take of 2011's Zookeeper.
Saturday Update: Disney reports this morning that Marvel's Avengers: Age of Ultron amassed $84.46 million on Friday, including Thursday night's $27.6 million start from early shows. That take stands as the second best single day gross in history (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 retains its $91 million record) and is 4.5 percent ahead of its predecessor's debut ($80.8 million) three years ago this weekend. That first Avengers famously became the first movie to ever crack $200 million in a single weekend, a benchmark that Ultron has a fair shot at topping.
The Marvel brand has a history of displaying great Saturday and Sunday holds as families turn out after the fans. Still, given the massive anticipation among both fans and casual audiences heading into release, it's possible this sequel will be more front-loaded than previous Marvel flicks. The question is: how much more? Some in the industry have noted today's Kentucky Derby and Mayweather-Pacquiao boxing match could keep potential viewers home. Ultimately, however, word of mouth may be the key deciding factor -- and things look positive on that end. Ultron grabbed an "A" CinemaScore, while it stands at 90 percent among Rotten Tomatoes users (one tick behind Furious 7's 91 percent among the best day-after-release scores in 2015). Critics gave it a more modest 75 percent as of this morning, in line with Iron Man 3.
For the weekend, BoxOffice is projecting $210 million for Avengers: Age of Ultron -- which would top the first Avengers' $207.4 million record bow three years ago, and give the Marvel Cinematic Universe the top three domestic openings in history.
Landing in second place yesterday, The Age of Adaline slipped 55.5 percent from its opening day last week to $2.21 million. With $19.4 million in the bank through eight days of release, BoxOffice is projecting a $6.9 million sophomore frame.
Moving down to third, Furious 7 was off 57 percent from last Friday to $2.1 million. That gives the blockbuster hit $326.5 million domestically to date. Look for a weekend around $7.3 million.
Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 earned $1.775 million in fourth place yesterday, down 52.5 percent from last week. The sequel's total now stands at $47.4 million. BoxOffice projects a $7.2 million frame.
Filling out the top five, Home posted another $0.87 million on Friday, giving it $155.7 million in the bank overall. The pic should bring in around $3.5 million this weekend.
Check BoxOffice on Sunday for official weekend estimates from the studios.
Friday Update #2: Sources are reporting very preliminary numbers for Friday based on matinee business, while Disney itself has updated that they expect to top $200 million and are eyeing the weekend record. That's a fantastic sign coming from the most official source possible.
Based on these early reports, suggesting an opening day of $90 million or more (which could be a record if it tops the final Harry Potter's $91 million first day), BoxOffice is currently projecting an opening weekend around $220-225 million.
More updates as they come.
Friday Update #1: Disney reports that Avengers: Age of Ultron took in a massive $27.6 million from Thursday night's first shows, giving it the highest pre-Friday debut any film has seen since the Twilight finale in November 2012.
What's more, it blows past the $15.6 million Iron Man 3 earned from Thursday night shows on this same weekend two years ago. IMAX accounted for $3 million of last night's performance, topping previous record-holder The Dark Knight Rises by 30 percent and the first Avengers by 120 percent. Disney also reports that men made up 60 percent of last night's audience, while 55 percent were age 25 or older. Those demos are sure to shift a bit over the course of the weekend, though. Overall, premium large format screens made up 44 percent of last night's business.
In addition to Iron Man 3, the next best comparison seems to be Avengers itself, although that film opened at midnight before 7pm shows were the norm. That film bowed to $18.7 million on its way to a record $207.4 million for the weekend. We don't necessarily expect a straight-line comparison from there, although Ultron's early start is certainly lining up with pre-release expectations of again breaking the opening weekend record. Since audiences have become more and more aware of Thursday early shows over the past few years, it's too early to tell exactly what last night's business points to.
Check back throughout today and the weekend for further coverage on Avengers: Age of Ultron's domestic opening and continued overseas rollout.