Weekend Wrap-Up for May 1-3, 2015
Age of Ultron Big – But Not Biggest
By John Hamann
May 3, 2015
Avengers: Age of Ultron is officially huge, but you already knew that. How big is it? It is one of the two biggest openers ever, and keeps Marvel on top with its complete and total dominance over everything else in the movie world.
Avengers: Age of Ultron is the sequel to the biggest opener ever (the original earned $207.4 million over the same weekend in 2012) and it got started with a bang on Thursday night. Age of Ultron earned $27.6 million from previews, bigger than the original Avengers ($18.7 million) and our recent $147 million opener, Furious 7, which earned $15.8 million from previews. It’s hard to believe, but Age of Ultron’s Thursday preview gross almost beat the entire weekend gross of The Matrix, which opened to $27.8 million over three days – a debut weekend that was considered big at the time. My, how things have changed – as The Avengers: Age of Ultron appeared to be on its way to a new record – for the franchise and the overall box office.
The combined Thursday preview/Friday gross was reported at an awesome $84.5 million, again a truly impressive number. That beats the original Avengers, which drew $80.8 million on opening day, but misses the top spot again, falling behind the daily record holder Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, which had an opening day of $91.1 million. That first day gross for Age of Ultron almost matches the entire weekend of Thor: The Dark World ($85.7 million), and two of the bigger openers of 2015, Fifty Shades of Grey ($85.2 million) and American Sniper ($89.3 million). It earned almost $10 million more on Thursday/Friday than any other non-Avenger property, as third is The Dark Knight Rises at $75.8 million.
The Friday figure was just as impressive as the Thursday figure, but it shows that audiences are changing how they attend on opening weekend. The original Avengers earned a combined Thursday preview/Friday amount of $80.8 million. The "true" Friday figure reduced that amount by $18.7 million, giving the original a true Friday of $62.1 million. This time around, pulling the Thursday gross out of the combined $84.5 million, we get a true Friday of $56.9 million, 8.4% lower than the original. This tells me that the Thursday preview is changing the way these blockbusters are viewed, with more treating the Thursday like it’s the new opening night. They no longer open Thursday at midnight (like the original Avengers did). Instead, they start at 7 p.m., allowing for at least two screenings prior to midnight.
On Saturday, the original Avengers improved on its "true" Friday amount, moving from $62.1 million on Friday to $69.6 million on Saturday – an increase of 12%. With Age of Ultron, the Saturday figure came in at $57.2 million, meaning that it held steady compared to its true Friday of $56.9 million. The Avengers has the biggest grossing Saturday ever, while Age of Ultron finishes behind The Avengers and Iron Man 3, which earned $62.3 million on its first Saturday. The original Avengers then fell 18% from Saturday to Sunday, earning $57.1 million. Leaving the Thursday/Friday amount intact, the original Avengers had an internal weekend multiplier of 2.57 – lowered due to the Thursday preview. If the sequel maintained that multiplier, Age of Ultron would be looking at a weekend gross of $217 million. However, given the trending from the Thursday preview (up) to Friday (down) to Saturday (down), it didn’t look like that multiplier would hold.