The fact that we all saw it coming doesn’t make it any less impressive. Captain America: The Winter Soldier has set a new opening weekend record for April with its estimated debut of $96.2 million. That tops the opening of Thor: The Dark World, last November, and beats Captain America: The First Avenger by 48%. For proof of how dominant Captain America was this weekend, just take a look at the difference between first and second place: poor, poor Noah.
|1.||Captain America: The Winter Soldier||$96,200,000||$96.2|
|4.||God’s Not Dead||$7,726,000||$32.5|
|5.||The Grand Budapest Hotel||$6,300,000||$33.3|
|6.||Muppets Most Wanted||$6,285,000||$42.1|
|7.||Mr. Peabody and Sherman||$5,300,000||$102.2|
|9.||Need for Speed||$1,836,000||$40.8|
Full story after the jump.
The legend of ‘The Avengers bump’ is alive and well this morning, thanks to the enormous launch of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. As expected, the Marvel sequel surpassed the $86.1 million of 2011’s Fast Five to become April’s highest debut of all time. Projections for The Winter Soldier have gone up and down in the past few days – especially after Thursday’s stronger than expected $10.2 million from pm previews suggested that the film could hit triple digits this weekend. Instead, Captain America 2 wound up exactly in line with projections established… pretty much from the day Marvel’s The Avengers became the third highest-grossing film of all time.
It was hard to argue that 2012’s monster hit wouldn’t have a hand in pushing the grosses of subsequent Phase Two films to new heights. Even so, the effects of the ‘Avengers bump’ have been rather spectacular. Last May, Iron Man 3 scored the second-highest domestic opening of all time (behind The Avengers) – a feat that was especially impressive considering that Iron Man 2 was not exactly beloved of Marvel fans. Still, one movie’s performance was not enough to hang a theory on, and so we waited for the next solo-Avenger project – Thor: The Dark World. In his Phase One debut, the God of Thunder was not an overwhelming smash, taking in just $65.7 million on 2011’s all-important first weekend in May. But post-Avengers? The Dark World saw Thor’s opening improve by 30% while worldwide sales jumped 43% in total. The curve was Captain America’s to blow.
Back in 2011, hopes were not sky-high for Captain America: The First Avenger. In 2008, The Incredible Hulk (like Hulk before it) was a box office disappointment – and the Hulk brand was far more recognizable at the time than Captain America. There was also the problem of the film’s setting (World War II) and it’s overt patriotism in the increasingly important overseas market. International audiences love an American superhero, but how would this particular hero play in countries that do not consider World War II a ‘Golden Age’? Surprisingly well, as it turned out. International grosses for The First Avenger accounted for 52% of its total global cume.
Here’s a look at Marvel’s first eight Avengers’ releases:
|1.||Iron Man (2008)||$98.6||$318.4||$585.1|
|2.||The Incredible Hulk (2008)||$55.4||$134.8||$263.4|
|3.||Iron Man 2 (2010)||$128.1||$312.4||$623.9|
|5.||Captain America (2011)||$65||$176.6||$368.6|
|6.||Marvel’s The Avengers (2012)||$207.4||$623.3||$1.5 bil.|
|7.||Iron Man 3 (2013)||$174.1||$409||$806.4|
|8.||Thor: The Dark World (2013)||$85.7||$206.3||$644.7|
It’s too early to speculate where The Winter Soldier will wind up in terms of its final worldwide cume. The Dark World was especially dominant overseas, earning $55.3 million in China alone. Since opening in select territories last weekend, Captain America 2 has earned $207 internationally for a current worldwide total of $303 million. This weekend’s international estimate will be out later today, including the film’s Chinese debut. If anyone still doubts how important China has become to the film industry, take a look at Need for Speed. Here in in the US, the Disney film’s $40.8 million total is just the latest example of the box office curse on video game properties. But in China, Need for Speed is a hit, accounting for 45% of the film’s $130.4 global total.
Compared to Captain America’s new April record, the box office didn’t offer much in the way of excitement this weekend. Last weekend’s top film, Noah, was down a big 61% in its sophomore frame. So far, the epic’s worldwide total is $123.4 million – just below its official $125 million budget. God’s Not Dead continued its improbable box office run: falling just 6% after expanding to 1,758 locations on Friday. The Grand Budapest Hotel also expanded this weekend, though it was down by 26% from last week. Finally, Mr. Peabody and Sherman crossed the $100 million mark on Sunday. That’s a big moment for any film, though it continues to be overshadowed by Frozen, which along with being named the most successful animated of all time and the ninth most successful worldwide film in history, is still in theatres and is steadily inching its way towards $400 million in the US.
Naturally, the heroic success of Captain America 2 helped this weekend’s box office crush 2013’s total (the Evil Dead reboot was on top at this time last year with just $25.7 million). Next weekend should keep 2014 ahead, thanks to the combined strength of The Winter Soldier and the debut of Rio 2. The animated sequel is expected to open in line with its predecessor, which took in $39.2 million in April of 2011. Captain America should be able to top that, even with a 57% drop like the one that Thor 2 experienced last November. Then again, lots of kids will be on vacation next week, so Rio 2 could top its initial projections. We’ll let you know what happens.