And… we’re off. ‘Furious 7’ gave us a taste of big movie tentpoles to come, but now the blockbuster-filled summer of spectacles is upon us. Setting a high bar and christening the season is the Marvel sequel that’s not only expected to be the biggest movie of the season, but have the biggest opening of all time.
After debuting to $201.2 million overseas last week, ‘The Avengers: Age of Ultron‘ will storm 4,200 screens across the United States. The original ‘Avengers’ set a new opening weekend record when it debuted to $207.4 million in May 2012. With ‘Age of Ultron’ outperforming the first ‘Avengers’ in its early international release, the sequel is believed to open even stronger this week on 3D, 2D and IMAX screens.
Many fans complained about how Marvel’s “Phase 2” movies never explained why the other Avenger characters didn’t show up to help when one of them faced a big threat. If that was your complaint, you’re not going to like how ‘Age of Ultron’ kicks off with the characters partway through a mission and never explains why they assembled once again for such a seemingly simple task. After retrieving the staff that Loki used to nearly hand the world over to Thanos in the last ‘Avengers’, Tony Stark and his trusty software Jarvis study it and somehow learn that HYDRA was attempting to create artificial intelligence with it. From there, Stark plugs a partially formed A.I. into his system and accidentally creates Ultron, a Transformer-like robot who has unexplainable motives for destroying the Avengers and the world. With a meandering plot and a convoluted climax, the Avengers must save humanity by kicking Ultron out of the internets.
As you may have suspected, no other wide release dares go head-to-head with ‘The Avengers’. Big titles are even avoiding the second weekend of ‘Ultron’. The only significant movie opening next week is a knockoff of ‘The Heat’ trying to dish up counter-programming.
In the meantime, we have some limited releases. From the Danish director of 2012’s ‘The Hunt’ (if you haven’t seen the intimate drama, check it out) comes ‘Far from the Madding Crowd‘. Based on the novel by Thomas Hardy, the Victorian era story follows a woman (Carey Mulligan) attempting to choose the most suitable suitor out of three promising candidates. Michael Sheen, Matthias Schoenaerts and Tom Sturridge play the bachelors.
Linda Cardellini appears in two of this weekend’s releases – ‘The Avengers’ and the TIFF selection ‘Welcome to Me‘. Kristen Wiig leads the cast as a socially awkward and medication-dependent woman who scores a lottery jackpot, quits her job, buys a talk show and gives up her meds. Her quirky show has its highs and lows, but the little film itself is said to soar thanks to Wiig’s performance. James Marsden, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Wes Bentley, Alan Tudyk, Tim Robbins and Joan Cusack so-star.
Another title comes to us from an actor-turned-director. Helen Hunt wrote, directed and stars in ‘Ride‘, the story of a mother troubled by her son’s decision to drop out of college and dedicate his time to surfing. With the intent of helping him change his mind, she heads to California to spend time with him. Luke Wilson and David Zayas also appear.
Leading up to his summer return as The Terminator, Arnold Schwarzenegger hits the big screen in ‘Maggie‘. The Governator plays the father of a girl (Abigail Breslin) who becomes infected with virus that slowly turns her into a zombie. Devoted to his daughter, he never leaves her side through the gross ordeal.