In the U.S., ‘Furious 7’ hangs on for a victory lap

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In the U.S., ‘Furious 7’ hangs on for a victory lap

“Furious 7’’ over the weekend became only the third film ever to make $1 billion internationally and led the domestic box office for the fourth straight week.

But the movie that’s poised to topple the Universal juggernaut, Marvel’s “The Avengers: Age of Ultron,’’ revved up overseas with a massive $201.2 million debut.

In North American theaters, “Furious 7’’ had enough left in the tank to top all films with an estimated $18.3 million, according to studio estimates Sunday. While the film has been a huge domestic hit, it’s been even bigger abroad - particularly in China, where it’s set a record with $323 million.

“Furious 7,’’ a film whose fate was once in doubt after the death of star Paul Walker midway through shooting, has made $1.3 billion globally. Only two other films, both by James Cameron - “Avatar’’ and “Titanic’’ - have made more money internationally than “Furious 7.’’

“Furious 7’’ has had little competition to challenge it in April. This weekend, the only new wide release was the Blake Lively fantasy romance “The Age of Adaline.’’ The Lionsgate and Lakeshore Entertainment release came in third with $13.4 million. The Sony comedy “Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2’’ held up stronger than expected to take second place with $15.5 million in its second week.

But the reign of “Furious 7’’ is effectively over now that the highly anticipated “Avengers’’ sequel is on the way. Though it doesn’t open in North America until Thursday night, it debuted in 44 countries and territories this weekend. That represents about half of its international rollout.

Disney said the film is exceeding the pace of 2012’s “The Avengers’’ by 44 percent in the places it has opened. Joss Whedon’s first installment of the superhero team-up franchise starring Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo and Scarlett Johansson made $1.5 billion worldwide, good for third all-time.

With two enormous blockbusters covering much of the globe, the summer movie season is ready to officially begin next weekend.

In the meantime, a few smaller films carved out more limited releases.

Russell Crowe’s directorial debut, “The Water Diviner,’’ opened in 320 locations with $1.3 million. The critically acclaimed indie science-fiction drama “Ex Machina’’ expanded to 1,255 screens in its second week and earned $5.4 million. AP

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