UPDATE, SUNDAY 10 A.M.: You would think a massive hurricane was about to sweep over America. But no, it’s just Disney Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, which will be kicking off this Thursday. While the final frame of April has proven its mettle to launch summer early (e.g., Fast Five‘s 2011 bow of $86.2M), most of the majors felt it was a waste of time to launch a tentpole as Age of Ultron is really expected to take the wind out of everyone else’s box office sails (and sales) next weekend.

So most distribs spent this weekend preparing for the storm: The Age of AdalineGetting out in front of Ultron; ensuring good word of mouth on their boutique titles; making sure audiences know there are other pics (particularly smart arthouse alternatives) on the marquee.

Lionsgate found this weekend a prime place to get a leg up, generate word of mouth with females and counterprogram as it rolled out period romance The Age of Adaline. A24’s Ex Machinawhich hit a sweet spot with the 25-34 demo, expanded this weekend to excite those fanboys waiting around in the lobby ahead of Ultron’s debut.

Kevin James“Films that are already in the marketplace have a better shot of hanging in there when a big film arrives in the marketplace, versus going up right against it,” says Sony domestic distrib chief Rory Bruer. Sony’s Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 posted a strong hold in second place thanks to teens, down 35% in its sophomore sesh with $15.5M at 3,633. Pic’s 10-day domestic cume of $43.9M has surpassed its $30M production budget by 47%.

Funny thing — when there’s a big film like Ultron in the marketplace, distribs can adopt one of two opinions: a) a film the size of Ultron is good for business and drives more traffic or, conversely, b) it hurts business for everybody else.

Avengers Age of ultron 3During the slow frame of January, most distribs whined that American Sniper’s runaway success took a significant cut of their business. Typically during summer, a tentpole spurs business for the competition as well. Says one studio distribution chief, “There are varying degrees of big when it comes to whether a tentpole will assist the competition or not. When it’s enormous, it sucks the air out.”

But with Ultron expected to break the record domestic debut set by its predecessor – $207.4M – most major distribs this morning are bracing for big drops in a week.

Per Rentrak, this weekend rang up $98M for all films, down 18% from last weekend and off 16% from a year ago. 2015 is still ahead of 2014 for the period of Jan. 1-April 26 by 3.7% with $3.22B.

furious 7Universal is calling the fourth weekend for Furious 7 at $18.26M with a total running domestic cume of $320.5M.  F7 maintains its position as the studio’s fourth-highest grossing title Stateside behind their top three hitters Despicable Me 2 ($368M), E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial ($359.2M), and Jurassic Park ($357.1M).  Large format accounted for 18% of the weekend haul, including Imax at 8%, and premium large format another 10%.

With Ultron expected to ding F7, the anticipation by many remains that the seven-quel is headed toward $375M, which would obviously make it Uni’s highest grossing film at the domestic B.O.

Globally, F7 hit $1.322 billion, making it the fifth-highest-grossing film of all time worldwide behind Avatar ($2.8B), Titanic ($2.2B) Marvel’s The Avengers ($1.5B) and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 ($1.341B)

The Age of Adaline Blake LivelyLionsgate’s The Age of Adaline from Lakeshore/SKE arrived in third with $13.375M at 2,991. Adaline rose 8% on Saturday from Friday, moving from $4.95M to $5.35M. The pic, which stars Blake Lively and Harrison Ford, played largely to older females with femmes making up 75% and over 25ers at 58%.

With Age of Adaline split 50/50 between Lionsgate and Lakeshore, the film is shaping up to be profitable for both partners. Lionsgate moved Adaline out of its January spot to grab a bigger share of the audience than the May box office provides; it’s an obvious option for adult women at the multiplex next weekend amid the Age of Ultron‘s anticipated multiple showtimes.

Adaline’s A- CinemaScore translates into a likely 3.5 multiple, so the distrib is quite hopeful about the pic’s counter-programming possibilities. Following Fox’s The Longest Ride by two weeks provided enough breathing room for Adaline while also providing an opportunity for the Blake Lively film to trailer on the Nicholas Sparks film, hitting its key femme demo head on. Lively’s Gossip Girl fandom and her profile in the fashion world became key drivers to creating awareness for the film.

Meanwhile, A24’s wide expansion of artificial intelligence sci-fi film Ex Machina turned out to be A24’s biggest grossing weekend in the label’s history with $5.44M at 1,255. Current cume for the pic through its third weekend stands at $6.9M, after it had 2015’s best specialty debut (on a per-theater average)  two weeks ago, and dominated specialty box office again last week. The wide expansion pulls it up above specialty ranks at this point, putting it at 11th overall.

Open Road’s Little Boyexecutive produced by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, fell outside the top 10 with $2.83M at 1,045 theaters. Given the Burnett/Downey involvement (The Bible, A.D. The Bible Continues), no surprise there was a play here for faith-based audiences. Sources say that Open Road acquired the film for around $1M, thus their exposure on the film wasn’t large.

The Water Diviner Russell CroweWarner Bros. is content with the results of Russell Crowe‘s directorial debut The Water DivinerPic grossed $1.25M at 320 locales, repping a $3,906 per theater. Overall it earned an A- CinemaScore, with women making up the majority of tickets sales at 51%.

Imax in 70 hubs generated $222K, 18% of the pic’s B.O. Rather than launch Water Diviner during a crowded awards season, Warner Bros. is taking advantage of platforming this film in the summer arthouse marketplace, a sphere that can be quite lucrative for smart, non-tentpoles.

The top 10 films for April 24-26:
1).  Furious 7 (UNI), 3,808 theaters (-156%) / $4.8M Fri. /$8.3M Sat. (+73%)/ $5M Sun. (-40%)/ 3-day cume: $18.3M (-37%) / Total cume: $320.5M/ Wk 4

2). Paul Blart Mall Cop 2 (SONY), 3,633 theaters (0)/ $3.75M Fri./ $7.3M Sat. (+95%)/ $4.4M Sun. (-40%)/ 3-day cume: $15.5M (-35%)/ Total Cume: $43.9M / Wk 2

3). The Age of Adaline (LGF), 2,991 theaters / $4.95M Fri. / $5.35M Sat. (+8%)/ $3M Sun. (-43%)/3-day cume: $13.37M / Wk 1

4). Home (FOX/DW), 3,311 theaters (-177) / $1.8M Fri. /$3.9M Sat. (+116%)/ $2.5M Sun. (-35%)/ 3-day cume: $8.3M (-22%)/ Total cume: $153.7M / Wk 5

5). Unfriended (UNI), 2,775 theaters (+36) / $2M Fri. / $2.7M Sat. (+36%)/ $1.45M Sun. (-47%)/ 3-day cume: $6.2M (-61%)/ Total Cume: $25.1M/Wk 2

6). Ex Machina (A24), 1,255 theaters (+1,216) / $1.7M Fri. / $2.2M Sat. (+32%)/ $1.4M Sun. (-35%)/3-day cume: $5.4M (+581%)/ Total cume: $5.6M / Wk 3

7). The Longest Ride (FOX), 3,140 theaters (-231) / $1.36M Fri. /$1.95M Sat. (+43%)/ $1M Sun. (-46%)/ 3-day cume: $4.3M (-38%) / Total cume: $30.3M / Wk 3

8). Get Hard (WB), 2,276theaters (-379) / $1M Fri. /$1.7M Sat. (+69%)/ $1M Sun. (-40%)/ 3-day cume: $3.9M (-21%) / Total cume: $84M / Wk 5

9). Monkey Kingdom (DIS), 2,012 theaters (0)/ $1M Fri. /$1.4M Sat. (+38%)/ $1M Sun. (-31%)/ 3-day cume: $3.55M (-22%) /Total Cume: $10.25M / Wk 2

10). Woman in Gold (TWC), 1,981 theaters (-30) / $920K Fri. / $1.56M Sat. (+70%)/ $1M Sun. (-35%)/ 3-day cume: $3.5M (-24%) / Total cume: $21.6M / Wk 4

NOTEABLES:

Little Boy (OPRD), 1,045 theaters / $1.35M Fri. /$800K Sat. (-41%)/ $680K Sun. (-15%)/ 3-day cume: $2.8M/ Wk 1

The Water Diviner (WB), 320 theaters / $375K Fri. /$530K Sat. (+41%)/ $345K Sun. (-35%)/ 3-day cume: $1.25M/ Wk 1

True Story (FSL), 856 theaters (+25) / $315K Fri. /$537K Sat. (+70%)/ $323K Sun. (-40%)/ 3-day cume: $1.1M (-40%) / Total cume: $3.8M / Wk 2

Brotherly Love (FREE), 200 theaters / 81K Fri. / $101K Sat. (+25%)/ $61K Sun. (-40%)/3-day cume: $243K/ Wk 1

Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck (IND), 3 theaters / $54K Fri. / $53K Sat. (-1%)/$40K Sun. (-25%) / 3-day PSA: 49K / 3-day cume: $147K / Wk 1

Kung Fu Killer (WLCO), 23 theaters / $14K Fri. / $18K Sat. (+29%)/ $11K Sun. (-40%)/3-day cume: $43K/ Wk 1

Blackbird (IMAGE), 12 theaters / $14K Fri. / $16K Sat. (+13%)/ $10.5K Sun. (-35%)/3-day cume: $41K/ Wk 1

Don’t Think I’ve Forgot (ARGT), 2 theaters / $5K Fri. / $5.7K Sat. (+15%)/ $3.4K Sun. (-40%)/3-day cume: $14K/ Wk 1

Just Before I Go (ANCHR/FREE), 2 theaters / $2.8K Fri. / $3.6K Sat. (+26%)/ $2.3K Sun. (-35%)/3-day cume: $9K/ Wk 1

MORE

Previous, Saturday 7:26AM, after 6:56AM post: Lionsgate is reporting $4.96M for Lakeshore/SKE’s The Age of Adaline for Friday with Universal settling for second with Furious 7 at $4.83M.  As is the tendency with Friday figures, everything just becomes more accurate as theaters close out their drawers, which occurs into Saturday morning. Furious 7 is still expected to win this weekend with a FSS of $16M-The Age of Adaline$17M and stateside cume of $318M-$319M. Box office beancounters are estimating that Age of Adaline will follow a trajectory similar to femme-driven The Longest Ride whereby Friday is its highest daily gross, dipping thereafter with an estimated opening of $12.4M, which would make it third behind Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2. The Kevin James sequel from Sony grossed $3.75M on Friday and will land at No. 2 with $13.7M, off 42% in its second frame, with a 10-day cume of $42.16M.  Sony is tubthumping that the sequel, with a current cume of $32.2M, has surpassed its reported production budget of $30M.

Uni/Blumhouse’s Unfriended came away with a studio-reported $2M yesterday at 2,775 locales, down 71% in its second Friday. Industry estimates see the film making $5.9M in its second sesh, down 63% (typical for a horror film), and a 10-day cume tomorrow of $24.8M.

Warner Bros. is reporting $1M for Get Hard in its fifth Friday at 2,276, down 27%, for a current cume of $81.2M.  The studio’s new limited release, The Water Diviner collected $374K at 320 for a per theater of $1,168. TWC is reporting $916K at 1,981 for The Woman in Gold. The fourth frame for the Helen Mirren film is expected to file $3.1M with a cume by tomorrow of $21.2M.

Open Road’s Little Boy took in $1.35M Friday. Industry estimate for FSS is $3M at 1,045 playdates.

Updated top 10 chart for April 24-26:

1).  Furious 7 (UNI), 3,808 theaters (-156%) / $4.8M Fri. (-42%) / 3-day cume: $16-M17M (-42 to 45%) / Total cume: $318M-319M/ Wk 4

2). Paul Blart Mall Cop 2 (SONY), 3,633 theaters (0)/ $3.75M Fri. (-49%)/ 3-day cume: $13.7M (-42%)/ Total Cume: $42.16M / Wk 2

3). The Age of Adaline (LGF), 2,991 theaters / $4.96M Fri. / 3-day cume: $12.4M / Wk 1

4). Home (FOX/DW), 3,311 theaters (-177) / $1.825M Fri. (-26%) / 3-day cume: $7.9M (-25%)/ Total cume: $153.4M / Wk 5

5). Unfriended (UNI), 2,775 theaters (+36) / $2M Fri. (-70%)/ 3-day cume: $5.9M (-63%)/ Total Cume: $24.8M/Wk 2

6). Ex Machina (A24), 1,255 theaters (+1,216) / $1.7M Fri. / 3-day cume: $4.88M (+5,115%)/ Total cume: $6.19M / Wk 3

7). The Longest Ride (FOX), 3,140 theaters (-231) / $1.365M Fri. (-43%)/ 3-day cume: $4M (-43%) / Total cume: $30M / Wk 3

8). Get Hard (WB), 2,276theaters (-379) / $1.05M Fri. (-27%) / 3-day cume: $3.56M (-28%) / Total cume: $83.7M / Wk 5

9). Monkey Kingdom (DIS), 2,012 theaters (0)/ $1.065M Fri. (-32%)/ 3-day cume: $3.33M (-27%) /Total Cume: $10M / Wk 2

10). Woman in Gold (TWC), 1,981 theaters (-30) / $903K Fri. (-33%) / 3-day cume: $3.1M (-33%) / Total cume: $21.2M / Wk 4

11). Little Boy (OPRD), 1,045 theaters / $1.35M Fri. / 3-day cume: $3M/ Wk 1

Previous, Saturday 1:05AM: It’s a close Friday night and when one takes into account all the industry estimates, Universal’s Furious 7 with $4.9M is passing Lionsgate’s period romance The Age of Adaline on the box office freeway by approximately $77K. The Blake Lively film about a turn-of-the-century woman who remains 29 for several decades deposited $4.83M into Lionsgate’s purse.

The final frame of April flip flops annually as a date Furious 7 best picture campaign when studios can jumpstart summer (heck, in 2011 Universal proved that with Fast Five‘s awesome $86.2M bow) or take it easy.  Knowing that Furious fans were going to stampede theaters to watch Paul Walker’s swan song, distribs opted to counter-program the seven-quel rather than throw another tentpole in the marketplace. They’re leaving that responsibility to Disney/Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron next weekend.

F7 is on course to make $17M in its fourth weekend with its total domestic B.O. pushing $319.3M by Sunday.  That FSS number is about where Universal expected the film to land; more aggressive estimates predicted $20M.  The anticipation is that F7‘s Saturday could put the pedal to the metal for a 55% uptick, thanks to the gas from 615 large format screens, repping 16% of the pic’s 3,808 theater count. Social media buzz hasn’t waned. Universal brought out the film’s leading man and social media star Vin Diesel at CinemaCon to rightfully announce Fast & Furious 8‘s April 14, 2017 release date. Vin Diesel has collected close to 7M more followers combined across his Facebook and Instagram in the wake of F7‘s bow.  Not only is his posting daily, but he’s already helping Uni push F7 for an Oscar (see right).

Blake Lively headliner The Age of Adaline may have seduced some ticket buyers tonight who gave it a big smooch with an A- CinemaScore, but the industry is comping its opening to 20th Century Fox’s Nicholas Sparks adaptation The Longest Ride two weeks ago, which drew 73% females. Similar to the way that film was a tad front loaded with a $5.5M Friday and an 11% slide on Saturday for a FSS of $13M, industry estimates are seeing a similar trajectory for the Lakeshore/SKE financed pic which is projected to decline 5% for a $12.1M weekend at 2,991 — but in third place.  Sony’s goofball sequel Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 is expected to do donuts in second place with a $13.7M second weekend, off 42% for a 10-day cume of $42.3M. Originally, Age of Adaline was scheduled to bow on Jan. 23, but Lionsgate moved Mortdecai to that spot and gave the Lively film its own island in April without much competition. Critics are split on the film at 53% rotten.

The opening week promotion for Age of Adaline surrounded women with a blitz engineered to drive ticket sales and attendance in groups. In addition, Lionsgate played its campaign off of Lively’s fashionista image with a campaign that included an Allure Magazine-hosted tastemaker luncheon with the actress and NYC VIP media elite such as Georgina Chapman, Lorraine Schwartz and other key fashion influencers.  Lionsgate also worked with nine top fashion & beauty YouTube stars to created a custom ‘Fashion Journey Through the Decades’ initiative where each influencer created a unique makeup, clothing, or hairstyling tutorial video inspired by one of Adaline’s decade-themed portraits. All influencers shared their videos across their social media accounts attracting 1M-plus YouTube views. They executed a similar campaign with 30 Instagram platform influencers garnering 1M total engagements. The distrib also engaged Mom Influencer bloggers with over 725K followers to spread the word after screening the film.

On social, some of Adaline facets included Lana Del Rey dropping her “Life is Beautiful” music video across her accounts including Facebook (11.5M followers), Twitter (5.36M followers), Instagram (3.6M), YouTube (1.3M subs). While Lively hasn’t tweeted much to her 275K followers and her 1.2 Facebook fans, she is pretty active posting on Instagram to her 2.3M followers.

Ex Machina Oscar Isaac Domnhall GleesonA24’s expansion of sci-fi pic Ex Machina from 39 theaters to 1,255 is expected to shoot over the moon with an estimated $1.59M Friday and a third FSS of $4.5M.  Similar to RADiUS’ It Follows, Ex Machina busted past the 1,000 theater threshold in its third frame, and the Alex Garland film is gonna a file a weekend that’s 18% bigger than what the David Robert Mitchell horror film posted during the same point in its run (It Follows is expected to count a stateside B.O. of $14M through seven weekends by Sunday). A24 held sneaks shows for the film last night, and is spreading the word to the masses, i.e. a TV spot ran during the Bruce Jenner 20/20 interview tonight. Critics are smitten with Ex Machina at 90% fresh.  A24 acquired Ex Machina back in October. Universal has international on the title.

Little BoyOpen Road Film’s Little Boy bowed in 1,045 on course for a $1.35M Friday and $3.2M weekend.  Distrib catered to the faith-based demo with a number of grass roots orgs doing Thursday night theater buyouts. Pic follows an eight-year old boy who’ll do whatever it takes to end World War II so his dad can return to home. Pic is exec produced by Roma Downey and Mark Burnett. Open Road bought U.S. rights last June. One source tells Deadline that the pre-sales were in the $1M range.

art729-water-diviner-620x349Russell Crowe’s feature directorial debut The Water Diviner from Warner Bros. pumped out $408K for Friday and is expected to make $1.1M for the weekend at 320 engagements (70 of which are Imax). Critics are split at 59% rotten, but the film earned high marks from such prestige tweeds at Rolling Stone, Variety, THR, Boston Globe and the New York Post.  

The top 10 films per industry estimates for the weekend of April 24-26:

1).  Furious 7 (UNI), 3,808 theaters (-156) / $4.9M Fri. (-41%) / 3-day cume: $17M (-41%) / Total cume: $319.3M/ Wk 4

2). Paul Blart Mall Cop 2 (SONY), 3,633 theaters (0)/ $3.6M Fri. (-50%)/ 3-day cume: $13.7M (-42%)/ Total Cume: $42.3M / Wk 2

3). The Age of Adaline (LGF), 2,991 theaters / $4.83M Fri. / 3-day cume: $12.1M / Wk 1

4). Home (FOX/DW), 3,311 theaters (-177) / $1.8M Fri. (-26%) / 3-day cume: $7.7M (-27%)/ Total cume: $153.1M / Wk 5

5). Unfriended (UNI), 2,775 theaters (+36) / $2M Fri. (-70%)/ 3-day cume: $5.8M (-63%)/ Total Cume: $24.7M/Wk 2

6). Ex Machina (A24), 1,255 theaters (+1,216) / $1.59M Fri. / 3-day cume: $4.5M (+468%)/ Total cume: $5.8M / Wk 3

7). The Longest Ride (FOX), 3,140 theaters (-231) / $1.3M Fri. (-45%)/ 3-day cume: $3.9M (-44%) / Total cume: $29.9M / Wk 3

8). Monkey Kingdom (DIS), 2,012 theaters (0)/ $1M Fri. (-32%)/ 3-day cume: $3.29M (-28%) /Total Cume: $10M / Wk 2

9/10). Get Hard (WB), 2,276theaters (-379) / $944K Fri. (-35%) / 3-day cume: $3.2M (-35%) / Total cume: $83.3M / Wk 5

Little Boy (OPRD), 1,045 theaters / $1.35M Fri. / 3-day cume: $3.2M/ Wk 1

11). Woman in Gold (TWC), 1,981 theaters (-30) / $903K Fri. (-33%) / 3-day cume: $3M (-33%) / Total cume: $21.19M / Wk 4

Notables:
The Water Diviner (WB), 320 theaters / $408K Fri. / 3-day cume: $1.1M/ Wk 1

True Story (FSL), 856 theaters (+25) / $332K Fri. / 3-day cume: $1.1M (-35%) / Total cume: $3.7M / Wk 2

Brotherly Love (FREE), 200 theaters / $70K Fri. / 3-day cume: $210K/ Wk 1

Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck (IND), 2 theaters / $35K Fri. / 3-day PSA: 42K / 3-day cume: $84K / Wk 1

Blackbird (IMAGE), 12 theaters / $18K Fri. / 3-day cume: $54K/ Wk 1

Kung Fu Killer (WLCO), 30 theaters / $12K Fri. / 3-day cume: $37K/ Wk 1