UK-made Avengers: Age of Ultron captivates US audiences on opening weekend
Friday saw the US release of Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, the hugely anticipated sequel to 2012’s Avengers Assemble, following its international release in April. Over its first domestic weekend the film has taken $187.7 million, the second highest ever opening at the US box office. Before this weekend, Age of Ultron has been breaking records internationally, becoming the highest ever opening in South Korea, Hong Kong and Russia, and has now taken $627 million altogether.
The film, which follows the explosive exploits of the Avengers as they battle military defence cyborg-gone-rogue Ultron, is the latest within the hugely successful Marvel Cinematic Universe to be produced in the UK. 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger, 2013’s Thor: The Dark World and last year’s Guardians of the Galaxy shot throughout the UK and were among the highest grossing films in their respective years.
As in the first film, The Avengers are seen travelling the globe at breakneck speed, and so the production required flexible, adaptable shooting space. The Peel Training Centre at the Hendon Police College in London provided a perfect location, with its large buildings and open spaces providing an ideal environment for ambitious set builds and action sequences.
Beyond Hendon, Avengers: Age of Ultron was well-served by the wealth of expansive stage space and diverse locations found in the UK, with Shepperton Studios, Surrey’s Royal Holloway College, Kent’s Dover Castle Tunnels and Surrey’s Bourne Wood just some of the locations utilised for the film’s breathtaking set pieces, including battle scenes and motorbike chases. As always, the production was supported by the UK’s film-friendly infrastructure enabling filming to take place just as the producers envisaged. The BFC was also on hand to help, offering extensive location advice along with additional production support whenever necessary.
Along with the flexible shooting space and unique locations offered by the UK, Avengers: Age of Ultron also took advantage of the UK’s production talent, who have extensive experience of working on major international features. Cinematographer Ben Davis and Production Designer Charles Wood have previously worked on 2014 summer blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy, while Makeup and Hair Designer Jeremy Woodhead’s credits include Warner Bros.’ Jupiter Ascending and New Line Cinema’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. In front of the camera, Age of Ultron features a wealth of UK actors, including Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Idris Elba, Hayley Atwell, Paul Bettany and performance capture pioneer Andy Serkis.
UK VFX far from Loki
Avengers: Age of Ultron also features a host of UK visual effects work, with VFX houses working on the project including Double Negative and ILM, who opened a London facility last year. The work carried out to create the stunning visual effects within the production was overseen by Visual Effects Supervisor Christopher Townsend, a Brit with extensive experience of major sci-fi projects, having previously worked on Star Wars Episodes 1 – 3 (Lucasfilm) and Marvel’s Iron Man 3.
Avengers: Age of Ultron is just one of the major UK produced releases of 2015, with Warner Bros.’ Pan, latest Bond outing Spectre (MGM/Eon/Columbia) and the universally anticipated Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Lucasfilm) all due to premiere later this year.