‘Avengers’ Takes in $77.2 Million to Lead for Second Weekend

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“Avengers: Age of Ultron” overpowered the competition at the box office for a second straight weekend, as the Walt Disney Co. film produced $77.2 million in ticket sales at U.S. and Canadian theaters.

“Hot Pursuit,” a police comedy with Sofia Vergara and Reese Witherspoon, opened in second place with sales of $13.3 million for Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros., researcher Rentrak Corp. said Sunday in an e-mailed statement. “Ex-Machina,” an independent film about a computer programmer and a sexy android, expanded to 2,004 locations and took in $3.5 million.

With the action genre mostly to itself early in the summer film season, “Age of Ultron” set a hot pace with a $191.3 million domestic opening May 1-3, the second-biggest debut ever. It faces its first fresh competition next week with “Mad Max: Fury Road” from Warner Bros. Universal Pictures’s “Pitch Perfect 2” also may draw significant traffic, said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Rentrak.

“It will be pretty tough for ‘Age of Ultron’ to maintain its top spot,” he said. “But that’s fairly insignificant balanced against how hugely successful this film has been around the world.”

Worldwide Sales

The movie has generated $312.9 million in domestic sales and $875.3 million worldwide, Disney said in an e-mailed statement Sunday. It opens May 12 in China, the second-biggest film market behind the U.S.

Even so, the film’s weekend domestic take did miss estimates of about $84 million, according to BoxOffice.com.

“Avengers: Age of Ultron” reunites Iron Man, played by Robert Downey Jr., with Captain America and other Marvel comic-book superheroes in a film that cost about $250 million to produce, according to researcher Box Office Mojo.

When Tony Stark, Iron Man’s alter ego, tries to jump start a dormant peacekeeping program, the villainous Ultron, played by James Spader, emerges. The film introduces new characters such as Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, and sets up story lines for new installments that are planned in coming years.

Familiar Faces

Actors Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo and Scarlett Johansson reprise their roles from the first “Avengers” film.

“Hot Pursuit,” the only new film in wide release, teams Witherspoon as a straight-arrow cop trying to protect the widow of a drug boss, played by Vergara, as they’re chased across Texas.

Critics didn’t think much of the picture, giving it a 7 percent positive rating at Rottentomatoes.com, which compiles reviews into a single numerical score.

Vergara’s popularity could counter the critics. As star of the ABC comedy “Modern Family,” she is the highest-paid actress on television, according to Forbes, a title held for three straight years.

The PG-13 film was made for about $35 million, according to Box Office Mojo. It was expected to produce domestic weekend revenue of $18 million, according to BoxOffice.com.

Artificial Intelligence

Among returning films, “Ex Machina” was expanded from 1,279 theaters last week and landed in sixth place, according to Rentrak. It was first released on April 10 and is being distributed in the U.S. by A24 and Universal Pictures. BoxOffice.com had predicted $2.5 million in weekend sales.

Filmed in the U.K. and Norway, “Ex Machina” marks the directorial debut of British-born Alex Garland, who also wrote the picture. His previous writing credits include “28 Days Later,” the 2003 zombie drama.

Domhnall Gleeson stars as Caleb, a programmer who wins a competition to spend a week at the private mountain retreat of the reclusive CEO of the world’s largest Internet company.

He finds he is part of an experiment with the world’s first artificial intelligence, the beautiful android Ava played by Alicia Vikander. His job is to find out if Ava is self-aware or just a great robot.

“This is a rare commercial film in which every scene, sequence, composition and line deepens the screenplay’s themes,” Matt Zoller Seitz writes at RogerEbert.com. “When the bloody ending arrives, it seems less predictable than inevitable and right, as in myths, legends and Bible stories.”

Positive Reviews

Rottentomatoes gave the film a 91 percent positive rating, with 162 of 178 critics providing favorable notices. It was made for about 11 million euros ($12 million), according to Imdb.com, and had generated $21 million in worldwide revenue heading into the weekend, according to Box Office Mojo.

Weekend sales for the top 10 films fell 5 percent to $117.6 million from $123.8 million a year earlier, Rentrak said. Sales for the year to date have increased 5.8 percent to $3.67 billion.

The following table has U.S. movie box-office figures provided by studios to Rentrak. The amounts are based on actual ticket sales for May 8 and May 9, with estimates for Sunday.

                     Rev.    Pct.             Avg./   Total
 Movie              (mln)    Chg. Theaters  Theater   (mln) Wks
1 Avengers          77.2    -60    4,276   18,055    312.9    2
2 Hot Pursuit       13.3     --    3,003    4,429     13.3    1
3 Age Of Adaline     5.6    -10    2,991    1,872     31.5    3
4 Furious 7          5.3    -21    3,004    1,755    338.4    6
5 Paul Blart         5.2    -12    3,201    1,621     58.1    4
6 Ex Machina         3.5     52    2,004    1,732     15.7    5
7 Home               3.0    -14    2,495    1,202    162.1    7
8 Woman In Gold      1.7      3    1,080    1,530     27.0    6
9 Cinderella         1.6    -43    1,034    1,522    196.2    9
10 Unfriended        1.4    -36    1,701      830     30.9    4

Top 10 Films Grosses

This Week Year Ago Pct. (mln) (mln) Chg. =================================== $117.7 $123.8 -5.0

Year-to-date Revenue

2015 2014 YTD YTD Pct. (mln) (mln) Chg. =================================== $3,672 $3,470 5.8