Box Office: ‘Avengers’ to Tower Over ‘Hot Pursuit’ for $85 Million Weekend

Avengers: Age of Ultron” will dwarf the competition for the second weekend in a row even after falling sharply from its $191.3 million debut.

The super-team follow-up fell short of its predecessor’s opening numbers, and it will also struggle to keep pace with its second weekend numbers. The first “Avengers” movie did a torrid $103 million in its sophomore weekend after debuting to a record-torching $207.4 million. Mid-week sales have been cooler for “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” The first film pulled in $18.9 million on the first Monday after opening, while the sequel generated $13.2 million on the same day. Look for “Avengers: Age of Ultron” to capture first place with $85 million.

“The fall off is more than expected,” said Phil Contrino, chief analyst and vice president at BoxOffice.com. “The first one was such a big deal to see the superheroes come together for the the first time. With the sequel there wasn’t the same kind of enthusiasm.”

Other analysts think that “Avengers: Age of Ultron” may hold up better, citing the A CinemaScore as a sign that word of mouth will be strong even if reviews weren’t as glowing as they were for part one. Also working in “Avengers: Age of Ultron’s” favor is that the film won’t be competing with Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao. The boxers’ pay-per-view faceoff, as well as last weekend’s Kentucky Derby and NBA playoff games, appears to have taken a chunk out of receipts.

“Without the key sporting events, I think the film will get a little boost this weekend as people catch up with it,” said Eric Handler, an analyst at MKM Partners.

At this rate, it appears that “Avengers: Age of Ultron” will have trouble matching the $623.3 million that the first film racked up domestically. But foreign grosses could be more substantial for this edition. That’s largely because China, where “Avengers: Age of Ultron” opens on May 12, continues to grow at a furious clip, adding a dozen or more theaters on a daily basis. The first “Avengers” did $86 million in the People’s Republic, but more recent Marvel movies, such as “Iron Man 3,” have topped that figure.

On the domestic front, “Avengers: Age of Ultron” more or less has the fanboy market monopolized until “Mad Max: Fury Road” blasts into theaters on May 15. This weekend, Warner Bros. will field “Hot Pursuit,” a buddy comedy with Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara, that is being vivisected by critics. However, women made up only 41% of “Avengers:Age of Ultron’s” opening crowd, so “Hot Pursuit” seems likely to be female moviegoers’ default option, and should benefit from the Mother’s Day holiday. The film is expected to be critic-proof, bowing to a solid $18 million on more than 3,003 screens. It was backed by New Line, Pacific Standard and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

The only other new entrant that’s getting a decent-sized roll out is “D-Train,” a high school reunion comedy with Jack Black and James Marsden that was well received by Sundance audiences but has been elbowed by reviewers. IFC picked up the film at the Park City, Utah, festival in a deal valued at $3 million. It should make between $500,000 to $1 million when it opens in 1,000 theaters.

Among indie releases, Sony Pictures Classics will roll out biopic “Saint Laurent,” a look at Yves Saint Laurent, in four theaters in Los Angeles and New York, while Roadside Attractions will push the Arnold Schwarzenegger zombie film “Maggie” into a handful of theaters and on-demand platforms.

Overall, the box office should be in line with the prior-year period, when “Amazing Spider-Man 2” dropped sharply in its second week of release but “Neighbors” opened to a hefty $49 million.

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