Get ready to rumble. After launching in 44 markets with $200.2M, Walt Disney’s Marvel Avengers: Age of Ultron is setting foot in the states. Conservative estimates see the film doing safely $200M at the domestic B.O. at a total of 4,247 engagements, but industry estimates see the Marvel superhero team film easily kicking the first Avengers, which owns the highest domestic opening of all-time at $207.4M, aside with a bow of $210M-$230M. Note that $230M is a very aggressive estimate. Says one rival distrib chief, “If the film opens and makes $190 million, and comes in as the second highest grossing weekend of all-time, how can that be anything but great?!”
Age of Ultron‘s theater count of 4,247 is comprised and juiced by 2,761 3D venues, 364 Imax, 400 premium large format, and 143 D-Box theaters (those are the venues that have the motion-sensor seats that move in tandem with the sound of the film; like a theme park ride). Industry confidence for a record bow stems from exhib chiefs’ buzz that Age of Ultron is already outselling Furious 7‘s first weekend ($147.2M) in advance sales by as much as 3x.
Already, MovieTickets.com is reporting that North American advance ticket sales for Age of Ultron are currently 3.7x greater than the 2012 release of The Avengers and 4.6x greater than the 2013 release of Iron Man 3 at the same point in the sales cycle of each respective film. Age of Ultron is also trending #1 for MovieTickets.com with 84% of all tickets sold in the last 24 hours being from moviegoers wanting to see the Avengers assemble again. Internationally, MovieTickets.com’s reports its number one and two markets over the past weekend for the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron were Buenos Aires followed by London.
Over at Fandango, Age of Ultron presales are just off the scales with the ticket agency reporting that presales for the sequel equal the presales for all Marvel Studios Films combined. The ticket seller is predicting a historical weekend, with the film receiving the highest score possible (100 out of 100 points) on Fanticipation, Fandango’s movie buzz indicator. The Fandango survey reports that out of 1K polled:96% are already looking forward to seeing the Avengers: Infinity War” movie; 88% will see Age of Ultron this weekend, while 74% identify themselves as fans of director Joss Whedon.
The conservative estimate of $200M for Age of Ultron stems from its tracking. It’s more than healthy, with a total awareness exceeding 90% in all quads and males tracking in the mid 90s, however, when the numbers get this high, it becomes a splicing-hair situation for box office analysts to settle on a number. 2013’s Iron Man 3 tracked higher than the first Avengers in first choice and unaided awareness, however that three-quel came in lower than Avengers with a first FSS of $174.1M — the second highest bow of all time stateside.
The first 2012 installment had all the superhero powers of 3D, Imax and large format pushing it to the highest opening weekend of all-time stateside with $207.4M, beating the former domestic bow champ, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 which minted $169.2M in July 2011.
Ironically, the first Avengers, though it posted a great Thursday night preview take of $18.7M, didn’t set a record and is in fact ranked No. 11 on the list of top Preview days. That’s because the film launched at 12 midnight. It’s a bit different this time as Age of Ultron fires up at 7 PM on Thursday in approximately 3,500 theaters. Deathly Hallows: Part 2 owns the top preview night on July 14 with $43.5M. That’s not the only record the first Avengers didn’t break: It ranks second among top opening single days with $80.8M to Deathly Hallows: Part 2‘s $91.07M. There are scenarios in some theaters where Age of Ultron will play every hour on the hour for the next 24 hours.
Age of Ultron is the sole frosh wide release this weekend. In terms of counterprogramming from the majors, Fox Searchlight is opening the Carey Mulligan period romance Far From the Madding Crowd at 10 venues in Toronto, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington D.C. Searchlight will add playdates and markets for the Mother’s Day weekend on May 8 then rollout across North America getting to their widest point on Memorial Day Weekend, May 22nd. Critics, who are crucial to the box office of such arthouse fare, adore Far From the Madding Crowd with a current Rotten Tomatoes score of 81%.
Based on the literary classic by Thomas Hardy, Far From the Madding Crowd tells the story of a fetching, headstrong young woman, Bathsheba Everdene (Mulligan) who comes into money and looks to revive an estate’s farm. However, three guys wind up going gaga for her and romantic calamity ensues: sheep farmer Gabriel Oak (Matthias Schoenaerts), a sheep farmer, reckless Sergeant Frank Troy (Tom Sturridge), and prosperous older neighbor William Boldwood (Michael Sheen). Industry estimates peg a $50K per theater gross for a FSS in the range of $500K.
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