Here are your three-day box office returns (new releases bolded):
1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier - $96.2 million ($96.2 million total)
2. Noah - $17.0 million ($72.3 million total)
3. Divergent - $13.0 million ($114.0 million total)
4. God's Not Dead - $7.7 million ($32.5 million total)
5. The Grand Budapest Hotel - $6.3 million ($33.3 million total)
6. Muppets Most Wanted - $6.2 million ($42.1 million total)
7. Mr. Peabody & Sherman - $5.3 million ($102.2 million total)
8. Sabotage - $1.9 million ($8.7 million total)
9. Need for Speed - $1.83 million ($40.8 million total)
10. Non-Stop - $1.82 million ($88.1 million total)
The Big Stories
Captain America is number one. That's really all that needs to be said this week. This report could have been written days ago because the truth of the matter is one does not need credentials involving math, statistics or prognostication skills to know that The Winter Soldier was going to be big. Open big, stay big and make everyone an afterthought in its wake until the repurposed summer movie schedule actually begins on May 2. Winter may be coming Sunday night when Game of Thrones returns, but the summer is most definitely here and already being given a run for its money.
Marvel's Success with Sequels
The Phase Two Marvel project, named for the post-Avengers second chapter of its cinematic gold mine, is having a good run. Iron Man 3 opened to a whopping $174 million, the second biggest opening of all time after The Avengers. Thor: The Dark World started with over $85 million, $20 million more than the character's 2011 launch. Now, five months later the Captain is opening with over $30 million more than its 2011 summer start just a few months after Thor began with about $700,000 more. With Thor being first out of the gate that summer, it even managed to best The First Avenger by over $4 million at the domestic box office and $79 million worldwide. But what a difference quality makes.
While I prefer the first Thor to the first Captain America, which squandered a solid first hour with some mediocre action as if they were just trying to get Steve Rogers into the ice and future as quickly as possible, many go the other way. In regards to the sequel there really is no debate. Iron Man 3 burst out with a lot of praise from fans, but its detractors eventually had their voices heard. Nobody should admit publicly that Thor: The Dark World is a worthy achievement of the Marvel universe and maybe to compensate the fanboys are all over The Winter Soldier, some going so far to call it even better than The Avengers. Take a rightful step back from the absurd and we still arrive at the conclusion that directors Anthony and Joe Russo have made a very entertaining film and will be rewarded for it at the box office.
How Big Will The Winter Soldier Be?
Captain America 2 was already $95 million rich with overseas money before seeing a dollar in the U.S. (It is now at over $207 million overseas and nearly half of Thor 2's worldwide gross.) $10.2 million on Thursday night turned into $95 million over the weekend. That, expectedly, overtook Fast Five's $86.1 million as the biggest April opening of all time. Anyone who thought Cap wouldn't open to more than The Dark World's $85.7 million was fooling themselves. Its $206.3 million, a plateau Thor kinda limped towards during the holiday season, is also going to be passed. But by how much?
The first thing to consider is competition. April is pretty wide open for the Captain to dominate. Rio 2 comes out for the kids next week and maybe Transcendence will draw enough interest to challenge its third weekend, but there's a good possibility The Winter Soldier could be number one until The Amazing Spider-Man 2 hits theaters. The lowest final gross for a film to open with over $90 million is the $234.2 million of X-Men: The Last Stand. Of the 33 previous films with that kind of start, only three others (Fast & Furious 6, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) grossed less than $275 million.
Assuming Captain America: The WInter Soldier has enough breathing room and solid word of mouth to fit into the 87th percentile, it is not only going to be the highest grossing film of the year to date (passing The Lego Movie) but could be for the foreseeable future. Anyone putting The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Godzilla or X-Men: Days of Future Past in the $275 million range? I'm certainly not. There may only be two movies this entire summer to approach Captain America's numbers and they both open in June (How to Train Your Dragon 2 and Transformers: Age of Extinction), which means Captain America is likely going to be number one through at least July 4.
- Erik Childress can be seen each Thursday morning on WCIU-TV's First Business breaking down the box office on the Movies & Money segment.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]
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