To the surprise of nobody, audiences assembled en masse to watch some of their favorite Marvel superheroes team up once again. Avengers: Age of Ultron earned the second biggest opening weekend of all time, rocketing to an estimated $187.7 million from 4,276 locations. That is a more muscular opening than Iron Man 3 two summers ago ($174.1 million), but a sizable 10% behind its predecessor ($207.4 million in 2012).
Age of Ultron continued to showcase Marvel Studios’ stronghold on the box office, as this was the ninth consecutive Marvel Comics adaptation to kick off the summer in the #1 spot. The film also received the second-biggest opening day ever, with $84.5 million (including $27.6 million from Thursday evening previews). With some competition from playoff games and the Mayweather-Pacquiao match, the film tumbled to $57.2 million on Saturday and is expected to drop 20% on Sunday to gross $46 million. It should also be noted that $18 million from its weekend take can be attributed to its IMAX presentation.
Even with a marvellous opening (pardon the pun), many industry prognosticators predicted that Age of Ultron would smash the opening weekend record. Regardless, a $187.7 million is not a sign of franchise fatigue. Instead, it shows just how anticipated the first Avengers was three Mays ago, and the limits a film can stretch on its opening weekend.
While Ultron is still widely expected to be the top blockbuster of the summer, with a more front-loaded start than the original, Joss Whedon’s film has virtually no chance of surpassing the original Avengers, which topped out with $623.4 million. A finish in the vicinity of $500 million may even be unlikely, depending on how well other May releases do.