May 3, 2015

Behind the US/Worldwide Weekend Box Office – 5/3/15


OPENINGS:  Can the 2d-biggest US opening of all time fairly be considered a mild disappointment?  Certainly AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (Marvel/Disney), for all its giant $187.7M start, underperformed compared to widespread expectations, not only failing to beat the $207.4M opening of The Avengers, but coming in $20M below that mark despite 5 more hours of screenings on Thursday night than its predecessor had.  (The studio’s weekend estimate assumes a very strong Sunday, with a mere 20% drop fron Saturday, which is in keeping with the 18% Sunday decline for Avengers–but if Ultron can’t keep up that pace, the weekend number may slip tomorrow.)  The excuse de jour is Saturday night’s prizefight, but excuses are easy.  The big question will be whether Ultron can approach the excellent hold that Avengers had over the course of its run–not dropping more than 51% in the first 11 weekends it was in theatres–considering that the new Mad Max is just 2 weeks away and one hopeful blockbuster after another will be arriving after that.  If not, Ultron could end up significantly below Avengers‘ $623.4M US total.

Of course, Marvel, Disney, and all the movie’s profit participants will do just fine.  On top of its huge US opening, Ultron widened to additional territories (now covering about 70% of the world, but not China or Japan) and earned an additional $168M this weekend, for a $439M international total.  Topping a worldwide $1B is a foregone conclusion, although the $1.5B total of Avengers is looking like a stretch.

HOLDOVERS:  Thinking of that Avengers worldwide number, FURIOUS 7 (Universal) is primed to beat it in the next week or two, with $1.43B to date after a $52.8M overseas weekend.  That will put it at #3 worldwide behind only Avatar and Titanic.  In the US, Furious, like everything else, was obliterated by the arrival of Ultron, taking a 66% hit that pushed it down to $6.1M.  It may not quite reach $350M in the US, but China is already the movie’s biggest market with $381.8M.

THE AGE OF ADALINE (Lionsgate) provided weak counterprogramming, down 53% to $6.3M and headed for a $35M US total.  PAUL BLART: MALL COP 2 (MGM/Columbia/Sony) fell 62% to $5.6M, and might get to $65M in the US, down more than half from the first Blart‘s $146.3M.  HOME (DreamWorks Animation/20th) dropped 59% to $3.3M, giving it $158.1M in the US, while a $17M weekend overseas put that total at $168M.  It’s still not likely to get far beyond $375M worldwide, which is far from the blockbuster DreamWorks was hoping for.  Only CINDERELLA (Disney) maintained its audience, slipping just 15% to $2.4M, putting it at $193.7M in the US and (after a $7M weekend) $300.6M overseas.

EX MACHINA (A24) is going to try expanding next week, when Ultron has subsided, but its march toward sleeper status was flattened this weekend with a 58% drop to $2.2M, putting it at $10.9M, and making it unlikely to reach $20M.  (Ex Machina‘s Sunday estimate is also very aggressive, assuming just a 22% drop from Saturday, so its weekend total may be somewhat shaky.)

LIMITED RELEASE:  FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD (Fox Searchlight) tried to play the counterprogramming card, but didn’t get very far with a middling $17K average at 10 theatres.  IRIS (Magnolia) had a fair start with a $10.5K average at 5.  THE WATER DIVINER (Warners) expanded its run by 20% to 385 theatres but still fell 46% for a blah $1700 average.  CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA (IFC) widened to 163 theatres, also with a $1700 average.

NEXT WEEKEND:  Ultron faces very mild competition from the Reese Witherspoon/Sofia Vergara comedy HOT PURSUIT (Warners), which will try to convince people that it’s in a league with The Heat.  In addition, Jack Black’s Sundance comedy THE D TRAIN (IFC) will have a semi-wide opening at several hundred theatres.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."