Sunday, May 3, 2015

'Avengers: Age of Ultron' debuts with $191.2 million but falls short of weekend record

Going into this weekend, many expected that Avengers: Age of Ultron, the second installment in the always popular Avengers franchise and the culmination of Marvel's Phase 2, would break every record in the books and go on to make at least $210 million or more. And it got off to a fast start, grossing nearly $27.6 million at the Thursday box office en route to a massive $84.4 million Friday gross. Unfortunately, thanks to a mix of front-loaded fan excitement, slightly less enthusiastic reviews and a stunning day of sports on Saturday, Marvel's Avengers: Age of Ultron ultimately tapped out at $191.2 million for the weekend frame. That's the second highest grossing opening weekend of all time, only behind the original Avengers, which grossed $207 million back in 2012.

Now, this is far from a failure for Marvel and Disney. The film has already grossed a shockingly humongous $626.6 million worldwide and will go on to make at least $1.5 billion at the box office, especially with the surely insane Chinese grosses. But I have to say that I'm disappointed. Age of Ultron seemed like a surefire record breaker, but I guess it just didn't work out. Disney has nothing to hang their heads over even though I'm sure that they really wanted to break that record and get over the $200 million hump.

A lot of factors went into this slightly lower total, with many pundits latching onto last night's Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao fight. That definitely had an impact on the grosses, but I feel like there were other things at play here. Simply put, I don't think that the reviews and the buzz were there for this one. When the first Avengers came out, the fans were excited to see all of their favorite characters together, the critics were on board and everyone came out in droves. With Age of Ultron, the problem is that Marvel has set so much down the line that the stakes didn't feel that high this time around. The film is very good, but with Civil War, Infinity War and even more highly anticipated Marvel flicks coming down the pipeline, what could Age of Ultron do to get casual fans in theaters? Why not just wait to see the showdown between Captain America and Iron Man next year?

This is my problem with the way that Marvel reveals their plans so far in advance. I know that they want to build fan anticipation and everything, but wouldn't Age of Ultron been so much more fun if we didn't know that Civil War was coming next year? What if the whole film had played and then the final credits stinger was something like 'Captain America and Iron Man will return next year in Captain America: Civil War'? If Marvel had put all of the dates on the calender, but hadn't revealed that we were getting Infinity War or Civil War, would Age of Ultron have felt more important for fans? These questions will never be answered, but I think that Marvel definitely needs to examine this down the line.

But nonetheless, Age of Ultron will go down as a huge success. It received an "A" Cinemascore and fans will come out next weekend to see it again. It could end up with nearly $500 million in the US and $1.5 billion worldwide and I don't think that anyone at Disney will be complaining. This does raise the question though: can Star Wars: The Force Awakens beat the weekend record? I feel like the fan excitement is through the roof (people clapped and cheered at the trailer during my screening of Ultron) and if reviews are kind, this is going to be a bona fide cultural phenomenon. I know it's opening in December, but The Force Awakens could be the next big thing for Disney. But for now, Disney should celebrate this win and bask in the profits of what will surely be one of the year's highest grossing films.

Image Credits: Forbes, Slash Film

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