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THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER – Joss Whedon’s Avengers: Age of Ultron earned another $35.3 million Thursday at the international box office for an early two-day total of $44.8 million from 26 markets, including scoring the biggest opening-day for moviegoing ever in South Korea.

The superhero extravaganza, which officially kicks off the summer box office, is opening in numerous international markets a week ahead of its May 1 North American debut and could gross $160 million-$175 million for the weekend.

In comparison, the North American box office will be relatively sleepy as two smaller films open, The Age of Adaline, a romantic fantasy starring Blake Lively, and faith-based movie Little Boy.

From Lakeshore and distributed by Lionsgate, Adaline grossed $575,000 from Thursday night previews and could hit $15 million for the weekend. That won’t be enough, however, to unseat ruling champ Furious 7, which will enjoy hits last weekend atop the domestic chart before the invasion of Age of Ultron.

Age of Ultron will be playing in 55 percent of the foreign marketplace this weekend. As expected, it is coming in No. 1 everywhere and pacing ahead of The Avengers in numerous countries. The U.K. led Thursday with $5.4 million, 40 percent ahead of the first film, while Age of Ultron took in $4.9 million in South Korea, where opening-day admissions hit an all-time high (to boot, the tentpole commanded 96 percent of the market).

In Russia, Age of Ultron debuted to $3.7 million, followed by Brazil with $3.4 million, the top opening-day gross of a Disney/Marvel title. Other Thursday opening results include $3.4 million in Australia and $1.8 million in Germany.

Domestically, Age of Ultron could surpass the $207.4 million debut of The Avengers in 2012 to mark the top three-day opening of all time.

Avengers went on to earn $1.5 billion globally, including $895.2 million overseas.

Age of Ultron returns Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk, Chris Evans as Captain America and Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow. The ensemble cast also includes Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle and Paul Bettany. This time, the superheroes and their allies must work together to stop Ultron (James Spader), who intends to destroy the world.

Many thanks to Ann for the heads up on this video!


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EMPIRE – News about the controversial plans for a live-action remake of anime classic Ghost In The Shell has been thin on the ground of late. But with Scarlett Johansson does the press rounds for a little movie called Avengers: Age Of Ultron, the star of the planned project told Collider when the film will start shooting.

“It’s happening. It will be shooting the beginning of next year, so I think we start production January or February and it’s me and Rupert [Sanders]; and that’s all I know.”

Rupert Sanders is the director of Snow White And The Huntsman, and he’s working with producers Avi Arad and Steven Paul on the film which no doubt hopes to match the financial success of 2014’s Scarlett Johannsson action movie Lucy ($458 million worldwide).

The production rumbles on despite the understandable concerns of those who love Masamune Shirow’s original 1989 work, which spawned three manga editions, three films a TV series and several video games. Still, Ghost boasts a compelling story angle for the big screen: the focus is on Motoko Kusanagi (Johansson), a cyborg law enforcer and part of the member of a covert ops unit of the Japanese National Public Safety Commission, which specialises in tackling technology-related crimes.

Live-action will be a tougher medium to work in than either the printed page or animation, but if James Cameron can find a way to shoot Avatar, it should be possible to make a good Ghost film. Assuming you can crack the story properly… And for more on that, and more on the original generally, be sure to read through our Ghost In The Shell crash course guide.

Onscreen, Robert Downey, Jr. and others make up an elite superhero team, but off-screen they are just like family.

PEOPLE – Scarlett Johansson has played the Black Widow in a slew of Marvel films, but the demands of the role haven’t gotten any easier for her.

“I don’t think you’re allowed to ride a motorcycle when you’re so pregnant, but I did,” Johansson, who welcomed a daughter with Romain Dauriac in September, explained at a press event for the film at the Walt Disney Studios lot in Burbank, California, Saturday. “I did all of the motorcycle riding. I embarrassingly rode some sort of mechanical-bull type of motorcycle, which goes nowhere and doesn’t look cool, at all. But, I had some very professional and amazing motor-cross morphing done that makes Black Widow look like a total badass.”

“Every film is exciting because I get new tools and fun new stuff to do, and luckily Joss writes me some badass moves that make me look like that,” she continued. “It”s awesome.”

Asked how she sees Black Widow moving forward in the Marvel universe, Scarlett explained the character’s arc in Avengers 2.

“In the beginning of Avengers 2, there is some sense, finally, of everything being normal, in a way… And at the end of Avengers 2, I think Widow… had this moment of false hope, where she felt like she’d put in the work and [felt] there should be some kind of personal payoff, and she was ready to accept it. And she realizes that her calling is a greater one, which is not necessarily something that she’s thrilled about.”

“That’s what is most heroic about her,” Johansson concluded. “She’s accepting the call of duty, even at her own personal loss. I think it’s an interesting place to leave her.”

Avengers: Age of Ultron hits theaters May 1.

A new TV spot for Avengers: Age of Ultron has been released, and it includes some previously unseen footage from the film (we see some new Natasha scenes around the 0:30 mark.)

The gallery has been updated with over 700 screen captures from the Blu-ray edition of He’s Just Not That Into You, the popular romatic ensemble which was released six years ago (crazy, right?). Although this is probably one of Scarlett’s overlooked roles, she turns in a strong performance as Anna, a yoga instructor who falls for a married man (Bradley Cooper) who she meets whilst grocery shopping. Sadly, many of her best moments were cut from the film-but thankfully ended up being released in the deleted scenes.



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