Even the most casual of movie fans knew "Avengers: Age of Ultron" would open to no. 1 this weekend.  The original "Avengers" was a cultural phenomenon which has made the sequel one of the most anticipated films of the year.  What Hollywood, industry insiders and Marvel Studios didn't expect was for it not earn less than $200 million over its first three days of release.

Pre-release polling for "Age of Ultron" was stronger than the original and based off of Thursday's $27 million in early screenings estimates for the three-day frame climbed as high as $220 million.  That figure would have easily surpassed "Marvel's The Avengers" which opened to $207.4 million in 2012 and currently holds the record for the no. 1 opening of all-time.  Instead, "Avengers: Age of Ultron" will have to settle for no. 2.  It took in $187.6 million in 4,276 screens and a stellar $43,886 per screen (no. 3 all-time for wide releases).  It was still a monster, but some it didn't crack the $200 million mark.  Why?  Well, that's a question distribution and marketing execs at Walt Disney Studios and their competitors scratching their heads for the next few days.  

Did the Mayweather Pacquiao fight diminish the returns on Saturday that significantly?  The pay per view event reportedly took in $400 million in sales and many people watched it with friends as though it was a mini-super bowl.  There is still a lot of data to come in on that event, but the fight was supposed to begin at 8 PM on the West Coast during the heart of movie watching (it actually started after 9 PM PST).  Considering Southern California is the no. 1 movie watching market in the country it would be silly to discount the fact the fight affected moviegoing Saturday night.  Additionally, while the film did earn an A Cinemascore grade the reviews were not exactly on par with the first "Avengers."  Slightly less enthusiastic word of mouth might have contributed as well.  Needless to say, "Age of Ultron" has little competition next weekend and should still easily sail to a $400 million gross domestically.  The Joss Whedon blockbuster has already taken in $340 million overseas and now has a worldwide tally of $527.6 million.  No one is crying for Marvel Studios and the force is still strong with the box office power of the MCU.

There were other films still in the marketplace this weekend and they handled the "Avengers" onslaught as best they could.  "The Age of Adaline" pulled in another $6.2 million for $23.4 million in just 10 days.  The $25 million budgeted fantasy should end up with $30-35 million domestic when all is said and done.

"Furious 7" dropped to no. 3 with $6.1 million and an incredible $330.5 million in the U.S. Globally the latest "Fast & Furious" thriller has earned an incredible $1.3 billion.

"Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2" took in $5.5 million for fourth place.  The Sony Pictures sequel has grossed $51.1 million domestic.

DreamWorks Animation's "Home" pulled in $3.3 million for $158.1 million in the U.S. It has not fared as well overseas earning just $145.3 million t orate.

In limited release, Fox Searchlight took a gamble opening "Far From the Madding Crowd" in limited release against "Age of Ultron" and it paid off. The period romance took in $172,000 in 10 theaters for a very good $17,200 per screen.  Alchemy's Kristen Wiig dramedy "Welcome to Me" fared just as well taking in $38,000 in two screens for a $19,000 average.

New films opening on Friday include "Hot Pursuit" and "The D Train."

Final weekend actuals will be released on Monday.

With over a decade of experience in the movie industry, Ellwood survived working for two major studios and has written for Variety, MSN and the LA Times. A co-founder of HitFix, Ellwood spends his time relaxing hitting 3’s on the basketball court and following his beloved Clippers.