Out of all the franchises that populate the multiplex these days, there aren't many as big as the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Ever since Marvel Studios introduced the MCU in 2008, its profits have continued to expand, and now even something as obscure as Guardians of the Galaxy can become one of the highest-grossing films of its release year. By combining fun Easter eggs for diehards with slick action sequences that captivate casual viewers, Marvel films have widespread appeal and always rake in the cash.
Of course, the studio's most lucrative property is The Avengers. The first installment of this series, released in 2012, became the highest-grossing superhero movie ever made, pulling in $1.5 billion worldwide ($623.3 million came domestically). Because of that impressive haul, many expected this summer's sequel, Age of Ultron, to post similar numbers. That hypothesis turned out to be correct, and the second Avengers movie is set to cross the $1 billion plateau this weekend.
Disney announced the news (via EW), saying that the film should become the 21st member of the $1 billion club during its 24th day of release. Somewhat surprisingly (given 3D surcharges), Age of Ultron will not best the record established by Furious 7 earlier this year (reaching $1 billion in 17 days), but the Mouse House probably doesn't care much about that. Once again, Disney has made a pretty penny off of Marvel and the company still has a little film known as Star Wars: The Force Awakens coming out later this year.
This development will also put a positive spin on Age of Ultron's box office performance, which in some circles may have been considered a "disappointment." In the weeks leading up to its Stateside debut, many analysts thought that the sequel would be able to top the opening weekend record that is owned by its predecessor ($207.4 million), but it "only" managed $191.2 million - which is the second highest opening weekend of all-time. Yes, Ultron is trailing the first Avengers film at the same point in their respective releases, but it will become the number one film of 2015 in America in a matter of days (and will only continue to rise up the international charts in the next couple of weeks).
Speaking of those foreign markets, Variety is reporting that Avengers: Age of Ultron has earned its place in the Chinese cinema record books, opening on Tuesday to the tune of $33.9 million. That is the biggest opening for a Disney or Marvel film in the country. Iron Man 3 debuted with half of that amount, and the first Avengers took two days to reach that number. It is also the largest non-weekend opening day in China. And it managed all that despite a subtitle controversy that left some viewers confused about lines of dialogue due to some questionable translations.
For all the division in reactions that Age of Ultron has caused in the aftermath of its release, the differences in opinion the film has generated haven't stopped it from being another bona fide hit for Marvel. Some may have thought (or hoped) that we had reached peak superhero in 2012 with the first Avengers and the culmination of the Dark Knight trilogy, but it's become clearer now that that was just the beginning. As long as they keep bringing in money like this, comic book characters will be on the big screen for years to come.
Avengers: Age of Ultron is now playing in theaters.