“Avengers: Age of Ultron” will likely champion the box office in its second weekend in release.
The Disney Studios-Marvel superhero sequel launched with $191.3 million in the U.S. and Canada, falling short of its predecessor’s record $207.4-million debut in May 2012.
Though the action tentpole is expected to signifcantly drop in ticket sales, it could add up to $85 million to its domestic haul, according to people familiar with pre-release audience surveys. Meanwhile, MGM and New Line’s comedy “Hot Pursuit,” which is being released by Warner Bros., is expected to debut with $15 million to $20 million.
Directed by Joss Whedon, “Age of Ultron” follows superheroes Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) as they battle technological villain Ultron (James Spader). Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson also star in the film as twins Wanda and Pietro Maximoff.
The film, which cost $250 million to make, earned a solid A rating from audience polling firm CinemaScore and boasts a positive 85% rating on critic site Rotten Tomatoes.
It has also fared well overseas, opening at No. 1 in every market including France, Italy, Germany, Britain, Australia, South Korea, Argentina and Brazil. The film is scheduled to open in China on May 12 and in Japan on July 4.
Imax reported that the film set a box-office record for the largest international opening of all time, excluding China. “Ultron” scored $25.2 million in Imax theaters and propelled the company to its first $30-million-plus weekend.
“Hot Pursuit,” which cost $35 million to make, follows an uptight cop (Reese Witherspoon) who has to help protect a drug lord’s wife (Sofia Vergara). So far, the PG-13 rated film has garnered poor reviews, earning a 10% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Still, the buddy comedy offers counterprogramming for moviegoers who want to skip seeing the superhero blockbuster. The comedy’s debut also falls on Mother’s Day weekend, which may help it attract more female moviegoers.
Both Witherspoon and Vergara served as producers for “Hot Pursuit,” which is directed by Anne Fletcher (“27 Dresses”). They have been heavily promoting the film by regularly posting on social media.
“There wasn’t a lot of development going on for female comedy,” Witherspoon told the Times in a recent interview. “Whatever you want to do, you’ve got to sort of do it yourself...[Sofia and I] talked about a couple of funny ideas, and this is the one we decided to develop together.”
The film marks Witherspoon’s return to the big screen following her Oscar-nominated portrayal of Cheryl Strayed in “Wild.” Vergara, who was born in Colombia, is best known for her role as Gloria Delgado-Pritchett on ABC’s “Modern Family.” She has cultivated a large fan base, especially among Latino audiences.
“I feel Sofia brings a particular perspective and a huge Latin American audience that’s rabid to see themselves on screen, and it’s way overdue considering how much Latin audiences show up to see films,” Witherspoon added.
Notably in limited release, “The D Train” will launch in more than 700 theaters. The film, which IFC Films picked up at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, could make around $1 million. It follows a middle-aged man Dan Landsman (Jack Black) who becomes obsessed with getting the most popular guy in his high school class (James Marsden) to attend their high school reunion.
Also in limited, Sony Pictures Classics will launch the biopic “Saint Laurent” in four theaters.
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