The Avengers sequel also continues to do strong business overseas, where it's earned $439 million before even debuting in China or Japan.
Domestically, Ultron's $187.7 million debut accounted for 85 percent of the Top 12 box office this weekend, which is a new record ahead of Spider-Man 3's 83 percent. The movie earned a bit more than the first Avengers on Friday, but its $57.2 million Saturday was 18 percent lower. It was also a bit below Iron Man 3's $62.3 million.
There was a perception heading in to the weekend that the original movie's record was going to easily be topped. In hindsight, though, that was a very unfair assumption. In the years since the first movie's opening, no other title has opened anywhere close to $200 million. To make it that high required a perfect storm of factors, which Age of Ultron couldn't quite replicate.
The biggest of these, of course, was that the original Avengers was the first opportunity for moviegoers to see all of these famous superheroes share the screen. The sequel, by its very nature, could never be expected to replicate that experience.
It would be wrong to overstate the impact of reviews, but it's likely that they had a tiny impact as well. Heading in to opening, there was a sense that the first Avengers was a top-tier superhero movie; this time around, the word was much more muted.
Finally, the movie's Saturday number likely suffered due to a handful of sporting events that drew a lot of attention. The Kentucky Derby and Clippers v. Spurs Game 7 were widely-viewed events, though neither seemed to capture the zeitgeist in the way that the Manny Pacquiao vs Floyd Mayweather fight did. These probably weren't devastating—Avengers did still have the third-biggest Saturday ever—but they could definitely have shaved a few percentage points off of the weekend. When dealing with numbers this big, that could translate in to $5 to $10 million.
All of this is meant to explain the gap between the first and second movie, not to knock the second movie's performance. A $180-million-plus debut is an exceptional result any way you look at it, and it reinforces Marvel's utter dominance over the domestic box office (it currently holds the top three openings ever).
Avengers: Age of Ultron's audience was 59 percent male and 59 percent over the age of 25, and they awarded the movie a strong "A" CinemaScore (in comparison, the first Avengers received an "A+"). If Age of Ultron plays like the first Avengers, it will end its run with around $560 million. However, if it follows the same trajectory as Iron Man 3, it will close at $440 million. Either way, it will be one of the highest-grossing movies ever, but there's still a huge difference between those two numbers.
As expected, the rest of the movies in theaters experienced steep drops against Avengers. After opening in third place last weekend, Age of Adaline actually jumped a spot to second with $6.25 million (down 53 percent). Through 10 days, the Lionsgate romance has earned $23.4 million.
Reigning champ Furious 7 got hit hard by Avengers, plummeting 66 percent to an estimated $6.1 million. The movie has now grossed $330.5 million, and will likely close just below $350 million.
Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 fell 62 percent to an estimated $5.55 million, which brings its total to $51.6 million. Meanwhile, DreamWorks Animation's Home (2015) made the Top Five for the sixth weekend in a row, earning $3.3 million for a new total of $158.1 million.
Even with strong reviews and word-of-mouth, sci-fi thriller Ex Machina wasn't immune to the Avengers effect. The movie fell 58 percent to an estimated $2.2 million, which takes its total to $10.9 million.
Far from the Madding Crowd opened to an estimated $172,000 from 10 locations, which translates to a so-so per-theater average of $17,200. The Fox Searchlight romance should expand throughout the month of May.
In its second weekend at the international box office, Avengers: Age of Ultron added $168 million for a new total of $439 million. According to Disney, it was off an average of 37 percent across its holdover markets.
In Mexico, it scored the biggest debut ever with $25.5 million. It had the second-highest opening Thailand ($7.4 million), and opened on par with the first movie in Spain ($6.2 million).
The next major market for Avengers is China, where it opens on May 12th. It's likely going to be a massive hit there; $200 million seems like a lock, with $300 million in play as well. It also has yet to open in Japan, where the first movie earned over $45 million.
Even with Avengers conquering the worldwide box office, Furious 7 still managed to add another $52.8 million overseas this weekend. In China, it held on to first place with $31 million, which brings its record total to $381.8 million.
Furious 7 has now earned $1.1 billion overseas, and $1.43 billion worldwide. It's less than $100 million away from moving up to third on the all-time worldwide chart ahead of the first Avengers.
DreamWorks Animation's Home (2015) added $17 million this weekend for a new international total of $168 million. It was up 44 percent in China, where it's now earned $21.5 million.
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• 'Avengers' Opens to $201 Million Overseas
This Timeframe in Past Years:
• 2014 - Franchise Fatigue Weighs Down 'Amazing Spider-Man 2'
• 2013 - 'Iron Man 3' Takes Off with Second-Highest Opening Ever
• 2012 - 'Avengers' Smashes Records
• 2011 - 'Thor' Thwacks It Within the Park
• 2010 - 'Iron Man 2' Builds on 'Iron Man' Launch
• 2009 - 'Wolverine' Roars
• 2008 - 'Iron Man' Blasts Off
• 2007 - 'Spider-Man 3' Soars Into Record Books
• 2006 - 'Mission: Impossible III' Doesn't Thrill
• 2005 - 'Kingdom' of Limbo, 'House' of Lax
• Weekend Box Office Results
• 2015 Domestic Box Office