news//LADIES RULED THIS WEEKEND AS 'PITCH PERFECT 2' TOPPED THE BOX OFFICE

BOX OFFICE



The weekend belonged to ass-kicking females. Pitch Perfect 2, the female-led musical/comedy sequel, took in almost $70 million in its opening weekend. That number completely out-performed the entire haul of the first Pitch Perfect film, which earned a total of $65 million in its entire 2012 run. Starring Anna Kendrick, Pitch Perfect 2 looks to continue to sit steadily for the next week or so, but as the summer movie season kicks along, could fall pretty quickly.

The Pitch Perfect gals weren't the only ones kicking butt. Mad Max: Fury Road, featuring a behemoth performance by Charlize Theron, scooped up $45 million and second place. The long-awaited sequel/reboot to the Mad Max franchise (the last film was released in 1985) didn't earn enough to top the charts, but it did beat analyst's speculations. The film, starring Tom Hardy in the role made famous by Mel Gibson, looks to build on word-of-mouth. Based on good critical acclaim, this could be the summer's surprise hit.

This upcoming weekend could see a hit from Disney, as Tomorrowland, an original action flick based on an area of the Disney theme parks, opens.

The Top Ten films from the week ending May 18, 2015:

1. Pitch Perfect 2, $69.2 million (NEW)

2. Mad Max: Fury Road, $45.4 million (NEW)

3. Avengers: Age of Ultron, $38.8 million (Total: $372m)

4. Hot Pursuit, $5.7 million (Total: $23.4m)

5. Furious 7, $3.6 million(Total: $343.7m)

6. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, $3.5 million (Total: $62.8m)

7. The Age of Adaline, $3.1 million (Total: $37m)

8. Home, $2.5 million (Total: $165.5m)

9. Ex Machina, $2 million (Total: $19.5m)

10. Far From the Madding Crowd, $1.25 million (Total: $19.5m)

NUMBERS: BOXOFFICE.COM

news//'AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON' SOARS, BUT NOT AS HIGH AS EVERYONE THOUGHT

BOX OFFICE

It was a weekend everyone was watching. Would Avengers: Age of Ultron be the biggest opening ever? It sure looked like it after Friday, when the Disney/Marvel film topped the charts of the largest Friday in cinema history. Other entertainment events squeezed in over the three days, though, to keep it from becoming quite the behemoth everyone was expecting.

Joss Whedon's action flick easily became Marvel's 11th consecutive number one opening, hitting just over $191.3 million. That's a huge opening, but didn't quite reach the massive $200 million that the first The Avengers film hit back in 2012. That film, however, wasn't a sequel and was the first film of its kind in the modern superhero universe film franchises. This new sequel had things like audience fatigue, prospective crowds, and a couple high profile sports events to compete with.

The $191.3 million isn't anything to snub, though, as that number secures it as the number 2 opening of all time. Profits were climbing on Friday, as it crossed the $87 million in just that 24 hour period, not including Thursday night's early screenings. Saturday's Kentucky Derby and Mayweather/Pacquiao fight kept a large number of audience members from venturing to the theaters, but theaters tried to beat those lulls by offering early morning screenings. A few select Regal and AMC theaters capitalized on the momentum of early excitement by offering the 30-hour Ultimate Marvel Marathons, screened beginning Wednesday and leading up to the first Thursday night screenings.

Overall, it was a great weekend for the box office, despite no new offerings other than the Marvel beast. It'll be interesting to see how the film holds up next weekend.

UPDATED: Includes new figure of $191.3 million for Avengers: Age of Ultron.

The Top Ten films for the week ending May 3, 2015:

1. Avengers: Age of Ultron, $191.3 million (NEW)

2. The Age of Adaline, $6.2 million (Total: $23.4m)

3. Furious 7, $6.1 million (Total: $330m)

4. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, $5.5 million (Total: $51m)

5. Home, $3.3 million (Total: $158m)

6. Cinderella, $2.3 million (Total: $193.6m)

7. Ex Machina, $2.2 million (Total: $10.8m)

8. Unfriended, $2 million (Total: $28.5m)

9. The Longest Ride, $1.7 million (Total: $33m)

10. Woman In Gold, $1.6 million (Total: $24.5m)

NUMBERS: BOXOFFICE.COM

review//AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON

Grade: B

AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON
Directed by Joss Whedon
Starring Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans

The biggest movie of the year always comes with the highest and the lowest expectations. Audiences galore will be showing up to feast their eyes on every inch of digital goodness, hoping it lives up to each and every piece of hype thrown in the weeks leading up to the release. Critics will be combing each and every inch with a fine-toothed comb. If the biggest film is, in fact, a sequel, there's even more for cheer and scrutiny. Avengers: Age of Ultron falls into all of those categories. As Disney and Marvel continue to bridge the gaps between each superhero film, creating a Marvel universe, the fine line between fresh entertainment and overexposed ilk continues to be drawn.

Jumping into the action right away, the ragtag team of Avengers are beating up bad guys and relaying one-liners at almost every utterance of a word. It's hard to tell who is the main Avenger from the get-go, but pretty soon it's clear who is calling the shots. Money speaks and so does Tony Stark/Iron Man a lot. Captain America is the headstrong one with morals holding him down. Black Widow is the tantalizing, butt-kicking, femme fatale. Thor is good at reasoning and being strong. Hulk is good at getting angry and emotional.

As an admitted non-fan of Marvel films, I don't want to speak too much of the story out of fear of the wrath of the diehards. There's definitely some sort of rush for capturing a stone. I remember this being similarly important in last year's Guardians of the Galaxy. This stone lies in the headdress of a powerful bad guy/good guy created with the help of Jarvis, Iron Man's handy computer helper.

Quality or stylistic filmmaking isn't necessarily what you go to see when seeking out a Marvel film, but kudos should be given to the special effects. The acting is better than decent (which should be expected with names like Scarlett Johansson and Mark Ruffalo attached). The standout performance is the voice work by James Spader.

I feel like any true criticism with the story wouldn't be without bias towards bashing the film, so I will leave that be. I will say, though, that there were moments when I felt captivated and moments when I really wanted to pull my phone out and see what time it was. The action wasn't quite too overbearing (a la Man of Steel), but it did start feeling a little tedious by the end. Also, those one-liners from Robert Downey Jr. are becoming less and less clever and funny.

Avengers: Age of Ultron is as grand as it should be and the audience who eats it up will be satisfied. Can't wait to see the final numbers for the opening weekend.

Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 141 minutes