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By Brent Lang
LOS ANGELES, May 10 (Variety.com) - “Avengers: Age of Ultron” iced out “Hot Pursuit” at the weekend box office, picking up $77.2 million and topping charts for a second consecutive time.
Disney and Marvel’s comic book adventure has made $312.9 million domestically since debuting stateside ten days ago. That massive figure makes it the second fastest film to clear $300 million domestically, and its sophomore weekend is the second biggest in movie history, surpassing “Avatar‘s” $75.6 million haul.
The film “Avengers: Age of Ultron” trails on both counts? Its predecessor, 2012’s “Marvel’s The Avengers,” which had earned $373 million at a similar point in its run after scoring a $103 million second weekend.
“It’s a dominant force,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Rentrak. “These second weekend numbers would be a great opening weekend debut for a lot of films.”
Internationally, “Avengers: Age of Ultron” picked up $68 million, pushing the film to $875.3 million globally. Given that major markets such as China and Japan are still left to open and domestic audiences continue to embrace the film, “Avengers: Age of Ultron” should have no trouble becoming the second 2015 release to clear $1 billion globally, behind “Furious 7.”
With Hulk, Iron Man, Captain America, and the rest of the super team dominating ticket sales, Warner Bros.’ “Hot Pursuit” landed with a thud, picking up a frosty $13.3 million opening from 3,003 locations. The Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara retread of “The Heat” was crippled by withering reviews, with its debut falling short of projections that pegged an opening of $18 million or higher. It’s also on the low-end of Witherspoon’s recent bows for more commercial fare such as “Water for Elephants” ($16.8 million debut) and “This Means War” ($17.4 million debut).
“Given our expectations it was a little lighter than we had hoped for,” said Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros. distribution executive vice president.
He argued the negative critical reaction took a toll.
“Where we did business, we way over-indexed in the South and in the small towns,” said Goldstein. “We were lighter in the East in review-driven markets.”
The film about an anal retentive cop (Witherspoon) trying to protect a drug boss’ widow (Vergara) was also backed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Witherspoon’s Pacific Standard production company. “Hot Pursuit” attracted an audience that was 62% female and 82% over 25 years old.
Beyond the modest debut number, a C+ CinemaScore means word-of-mouth will be of the cautionary variety. The budget was a relatively economical $35 million, but the film will struggle to become profitable without a much warmer reception in foreign territories.
In third place, Lionsgate’s “The Age of Adeline” earned roughly $5.6 million, dropping 10% from its previous haul and bringing its total to $31.5 million.
Universal’s “Furious 7” slid into fourth place with $5.2 million pushing its domestic total to $338.4 million after six weeks in theaters. Globally, the action sequel has earned $1.5 billion.
Sony’s “Paul Blart Mall Cop 2” snagged fifth place with just under $5.2 million, bringing its domestic total to $58.1 million.
A24 continued to expand “Ex Machina,” moving it from 1,279 theaters to 2,004 locations where it earned $3.5 million. The twisty sci-fi thriller has made $15.7 million during its theatrical run.
Among art house titles, IFC Films released the Jack Black/James Marsden high school reunion comedy “The D Train” on 1,009 screens where it did a mediocre $469,185. Fox Searchlight tried to capitalize on the Mother’s Day holiday, moving from 10 to 99 theaters and pulling in $760,721 in the process. The adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s classic novel has earned $1 million since debuting last week.
Despite the presence of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, the overall box office trailed ticket sales from the year-ago period by roughly 5%. “Avengers: Age of Ultron” easily topped the second weekend of “Amazing Spider-Man 2,” which made $35.5 million in its sophomore frame, but “Hot Pursuit” paled in comparison to “Neighbors’” $49 million debut.
Next weekend brings “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “Pitch Perfect 2,” two highly anticipated sequels that should goose ticket sales.