Let’s draw a line through this summer at the box-office. First up, we had Furious 7 dominating the multiplex for four straight weeks. (The film did open in April, but let’s be honest with ourselves, April is now prime “summer” movie time, and that’s bonkers). Now we have Avengers: Age Of Ultron, only in its second week of box-office rule. By the end of month, that film could be dethroned by San Andreas (just spit-balling here, people, but everyone does love The Rock, and that would give the latest MCU film an entire month at No. 1). In June, Jurassic World will likely take up the No. 1 mantle. That takes us all the way into July, where Magic Mike: XXL and Terminator: Genisys will probably battle it out for awhile (Terminator will probably prove victorious, no matter how much flesh Magic Mike sells, the first film made less than $200 million in total returns), followed in short order by Ant-Man and Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. August brings Fantastic Four, and then we’re out of the season.
The point is, this summer is packed with massive releases, but only a few will capture that No. 1 spot and hold on to it, presumably for tidy stretches of time.
This week, that placeholder is Avengers: Age Of Ultron, which battled its way to the top spot by, well, not really battling too much at all. The newest entry into the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe pulled in $77.2 million, and while that comes after a drop of almost 60 percent, it was more than enough to sextuple the weekend take of its closest competitor, Hot Pursuit, which made just $13.3 million during its opening weekend). Avengers: Age Of Ultron is now fast approaching the billion-dollar mark, and has already earned $874.9 million globally. People like comic-book movies? People like comic-book movies!
But, oh, Hot Pursuit. The female-driven comedy, starring and produced by Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara, limped over the finish line with a disappointing take. With less than $20 million in the pot, the film gave director Anne Fletcher her second-worst opening of all-time (2012’s The Guilt Trip, Fletcher’s first film after her smash hit The Proposal, earned just $5.2 million during its opening weekend). Another way of looking at the film’s lean take from the Witherspoon perspective: Its opening weekend numbers are closest to 1999’s Cruel Intentions (inflation aside), which made a little over $13 million in less theaters and, again, in 1999. The movie didn’t make money, and with more female-driven comedies coming down the line this summer—think Spy, Trainwreck, and Pitch Perfect 2—things are only going to get worse for the film.
Elsewhere, another female-led feature, the surprisingly darling The Age Of Adaline, held on to the third-place spot, only dropping a mere 9.7 percent. The film has now made $31.5 million domestically, and looks poised to be the kind of feature that hangs out in the Top 20 or so for weeks upon weeks (like Cinderella, now in its ninth week, or Kingsman: The Secret Service, which is in its 13th). This is the kind of thing we talk about when we talk about counter-programming.
The weekend also saw the release of a wide variety of limited release features, including The D Train (the Sundance premiere bowed in 1,009 theaters, making less than half a million along the way), 5 Flights Up (which made $234,000 in 87 theaters), and Noble (which pulled in $209,000 in 175 theaters). The weekend also played home to the much-buzzed-about Maggie, which sees Arnold Schwarzenegger going serious (and non-action-driven) to save his ailing soon-to-be-a-zombie daughter. The feature opened in just 79 theaters, making $131,000 along the way, which wasn’t even enough to push it into the top-10 of per-theater averages. You guys, Arnold, zombies, what’s the problem here?
Next week sees the release of Mad Max: Fury Road and Pitch Perfect 2, neither of which is likely to upend Avengers: Age Of Ultron, but which just might take a big (aca-big?) bite out of the competition.