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By Brent Lang
LOS ANGELES, May 3 (Variety.com) - "Avengers: Age of Ultron" scored the second biggest domestic opening in history this weekend, kicking off summer blockbuster season with a mammoth $187.7 million debut.
One record remained tantalizingly out of grasp, however, for Captain America, Iron Man and company. Going into the weekend many analysts predicted that "Avengers: Age of Ultron" would top the $207.4 million haul posted in 2012 by the first film in the super-team series. That high-water mark will stand...at least until "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" lands in theaters next Christmas.
Part of the issue may have been weaker reviews than the first "Avengers" film, as well as competition from the NBA playoffs, the Kentucky Derby and the hotly anticipated boxing match between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao.
Globally, "Avengers: Age of Ultron" is a juggernaut, pulling in an estimated $627 million in 12 days of release.
The "Avengers: Age of Ultron" results are still an astonishing feat and a testament to the powerful sway that Disney and Marvel have over American moviegoers. The three biggest North American debuts in history are now all Marvel movies, with "Avengers:Age of Ultron" displacing "Iron Man 3" and its $174.1 million opening from its runner-up perch on the all-time list.
Roughly $18 million of "Avengers'" opening weekend loot came from 364 Imax screens.
Earth's Mightiest Heroes didn't leave much left over for other films in the marketplace. A vast chasm exists between the first and second place finishers on the domestic charts, with Universal's "Furious 7" clocking in behind "Avengers: Age of Ultron" with $6.1 million, bringing its stateside plunder to $330.5 million. The action sequel is now the fourth highest-grossing film of all time on a worldwide basis with $1.4 billion in tickets sold.
"Age of Adaline" captured third place with $6.3 million, bringing Lionsgate's romantic fantasy's total to $23.4 million. Fourth place went to Sony's "Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2" at roughly $5.4 million, bringing its domestic score to $51 million, while DreamWorks Animation's "Home" came in fifth with $3.3 million pushing its total to $158.1 million.