“The Avengers: Age of Ultron” made box-office history Thursday night, zooming to $27.6 million and shattering the record for the biggest midnight haul ever for a Marvel Studios superhero movie.
It eclipsed the $18.7 million taken in by the original “Avengers” in 2012, though it had an advantage in that its early shows at more than 3,500 theaters began at 7 p.m. and the first film’s showings started at midnight. The $3 million that “Age of Ultron” took in from IMAX theaters was also a record, and those could be the first in a slew of marks that will fall to Disney’s superhero sequel when it rolls out in 4,042 theaters Friday — including the $207.4 million opening weekend mark set by the blockbuster first film.
“Age of Ultron” also sped past $300 million at the worldwide box office Thursday. Since opening just over a week ago, it has taken in $318 million globally, with $287.3 million coming from overseas. Its $6.8 million opening day in Mexico Thursday was the biggest ever in that market, and it should get a boost from the May Day holiday in many countries. So far the leading territories have been South Korea with $37.2 million, the U.K. with $35.9 million and Russia with $20.9 million.
The Thursday night preview showing by “Age of Ultron” is the fifth-best ever in North America, behind “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” at $43.5 million, “The Dark Knight Rises” ($30.6 million) and two “Twilight” movies: “Breaking Dawn-Part 1” ($30.3 million) and “Eclipse” ($30.1 million).
It wasn’t just fan boys who fueled the record debut. The audience for “Age of Ultron” was 60 percent male and 55 percent over the age of 25, Disney said.
The IMAX haul, topping the $2.3 million taken in by “The Dark Knight Rises” in 2012, was one of several premium options that made up 44 percent of the grosses Thursday night. Screenings in 3D delivered 24 percent, IMAX was 12 percent and Premium Large Format theaters provided 8 percent.
“Avengers: Age of Ultron” will become the 11th consecutive film from Marvel Studios to debut at No. 1 domestically. The other studios have cleared out and it will be the only wide release on the first weekend of Hollywood’s summer season in a box office year expected to be the biggest ever.
Tracking has “Age of Ultron” debuting at between $190 million and $200 million, and analysts say it could do even better. Advance sales are through the roof. At Fandango, they are equal to those of all previous Marvel Studios movies combined, and at MovieTickets.com they’re quadruple those for “The Avengers.”
Joss Whedon returns as writer and director for “Age of Ultron,” as does the ensemble cast topped by Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Mark Ruffalo (the Hulk), Chris Evans (Captain America), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow) and Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye). Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen join the cast as Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch.
Don Cheadle, James Spader and Samuel Jackson co-star in “Age of Ultron,” in which Earth’s mightiest heroes take on a Tony Stark artificial intelligence program gone rogue.
Kevin Feige, Marvel’s president and the architect of its sprawling “cinematic universe,” is the producer of the $250 million “Age of Ultron.” Stan Lee, Jon Favreau, Alan Fine, Victoria Alonso, Louis D’Esposito and Jeremy Latcham are executive producers.