May 9, 2015

EARLY FRIDAY BOX OFFICE: “Ultron” Still Huge But Sub-“Avengers”; “Hot Pursuit” Flops


AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (Marvel/Disney) continues to be a monstrous hit–but not as monstrous as expected.  Based on preliminary numbers at Deadline, its 2d Friday will be $21.9M, down 74% from last Friday’s $84.4M, and down 25% from the $29.2M 2d Friday of The AvengersUltron is heading for a Weekend 2 drop of 60% to $75M, compared to the 50% drop to $103M for Weekend 2 of Avengers.  This puts the sequel on track for about $460-500M in the US, far less than the first movie’s $623M.  There’s a good chance, of course, that the exploding China market (where Avengers made a mere $86M, less than one-third of what Furious 7 has earned there in the last month) may make up for that shortfall and more–but remember that US studios are only able to keep 25% of their box office gross in China, so Disney may still feel a small pinch on what is still a very big hit.

Ultron may not be all that its financiers had hoped, but it’s still easily dominating what is otherwise a very soft US market.  The weekend’s “big” opening HOT PURSUIT (MGM/RatPac/Warners) had a lousy start at $4.2M, and only the possibility of a Mother’s Day bounce may lift it past $12M for the weekend.  Although the purported comedy had a modest $35M production budget, it carries a full-force Warners marketing campaign and is in line to lose fair amount of money, along with generally embarrassing its producer/star Reese Witherspoon.

The weekend’s other semi-wide opening, the edgy Jack Black Sundance vehicle THE D TRAIN (IFC), is faring even worse.  Its 1009 theatre opening managed just $150K on Friday, and may not get past $400K for the weekend, a terrible $400 per theatre average.

With no new strong openings, holdovers were generally solid.  THE AGE OF ADALINE (Lionsgate) fell 33% from last Friday to $1.5M, and should benefit from Mother’s Day crowds to the tune of a $5M weekend.  FURIOUS 7 (Universal) dropped 41% to $1.3M, on its way to a $4.5M weekend, as it continues heading to $350M in the US.  PAUL BLART: MALL COP 2 (MGM/Columbia/Sony) dipped 25% to $1.2M and should also have a $4.5M weekend.

EX MACHINA (A24) expanded its theatre count by 55% to 2004, and saw its Friday rise by 21% to almost $900K, with a $3M weekend possible and hopes of reaching $20M in the US.

In limited release, FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD (Fox Searchlight) expanded to 99 theatres and may have an unexciting $6K per-theatre average for the weekend.  SAINT LAURENT (Sony Classics) is starting slow with a $7K per-theatre average in 4 NY/LA 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."