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Weekend Top Ten Box Office: Marvel’s ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ Smashes the Field

Weekend Top Ten Box Office: Marvel's 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier' Smashes the Field

Marvel/Disney’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” vacuumed up nearly 60% of the Top 10 gross of $157 million. Recent openers “Noah” (Paramount) and “Divergent” (Lionsgate) took powerful body blows and fell quickly from their modest starts. “Captain America”‘s strong number distorts the overall box office performance, which is otherwise showing signs of weakness (except for two strong indie performers in the Top Five, “God’s Not Dead” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel”). 

The Top Ten take is over $30 million ahead of last year. For the year, box office is up over 6% from 2013 so far. A solid but not spectacular performance, given that last year’s first third was bleak overall.

The limited debuts were led by A24’s “Under the Skin,” starring “Captain America” costar Scarlett Johansson. More details on that and other specialized films in Arthouse Audit.

1. “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” (Buena Vista) NEW – Cinemascore: A; Cinemascore: B+; Metacritic: 69

$96,200,000 in 3,938 theaters; PSA (per screen average): $24,429; Cumulative: $96,200,000

With the help of higher ticket prices (including 40% of customers buying 3D and IMAX seats, above-average but below “Gravity”), the second Marvel “Captain America” film sets the new record for top April opener (edging the non-3D “Fast Five” in 2011). This marks the best first weekend since “Catching Fire” last November. More impressively, this also bests Marvel’s most recent film “Thor: The Dark World” (also in November, just under $86 million) and is almost 50% ahead of the previous “Captain America” film. Add on its international performance (which got an early start in several territories), and the gross early in its run is already over $200 million.

Also encouraging is its Saturday performance. This grossed $10 million for its Thursday night shows, then $27 on Friday before rising to almost $35 yesterday (industry practice is to combine the first day and a half into one figure). The demographics for the film — 57% of the audience is over 25, once again showing how older moviegoers are continuing to keep box office healthy, even for a film that would seem to have big younger appeal — help explain the uptick (Saturday tends to draw an older crowd).

Summer has not yet arrived, and this early date reminds that studios are showing confidence about expanding the range of dates for high budget projects (in this case $170 million). “The Avengers” and “Iron Man 3” were both May releases. Their higher initial grosses had more to do with keen anticipation for those Marvel titles than their later dates. Thus “The Winter Solider” now faces less competition and can take advantage of school holidays as well as positive audience response.

Marvel leader Kevin Feige took a chance turning over the directorial reins to brothers Anthony and Joe Russo, whose previous efforts include “You, Me and Dupree,” which got to $75 million. Marvel buttressed them with the Marvel screenwriting team Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeeley (whose past hits include three “Narnia” films, the first “Captain America” and the last “Thor”). Marvel regular Chris Evans (“Fantastic Four”) was joined by Scarlett Johansson (she also opened in the specialized “Under the Skin” this weekend) and, in a live-action supporting role for the first time in a half-century, Robert Redford (at the peak of his draw, both “Butch Cassidy” and “The Sting” grossed the equivalent of over $500 million domestic).

What comes next: The second weekend will tell much more about how far above $200 million this gets. It should be an easy half-billion + worldwide hit (likely by some margin) and could compete for top film of 2014.

2. “Noah” (Paramount) Week 2 – Last weekend #1

$17,000,000 (-61%) in 3,571 theaters (+4); PSA: $4,761; Cumulative: $72,341,000

This is a discouraging drop from Darren Aronofsky’s film’s decent if hardly enormous opening last weekend, showing some resistance to this unusual Biblical epic that was suggested by its weak initial Cinemascore. This is going to need much stronger international numbers (it was at $51 million through last Thursday, with numerous major territories debuting this weekend) to have a shot at making back its at least $125 million production budget,

What comes next: This should be an easy $100 million domestic total, although it now looks to fall short of the director’s far less expensive smash “The Black Swan.”

3. “Divergent” (Lionsgate) Week 3 – Last weekend #2

$13,000,000 (-49%) in 3,631 theaters (-305); PSA: $3,580; Cumulative: $114,029,000

Faced with major competition from “Captain America,” this kept its drop to average levels, but this latest Lionsgate/Summit franchise starter still seems to be performing at the lower end of expectations. Still, with plenty of gross still ahead in the U.S. (this should end up somewhere over $150 million) and most of the world still awaiting the rollout, this economical ($85 million budget) production still has done well enough to justify the sequel plans.

What comes next: With no immediate demographic competition immediately ahead, this has a chance to stabilize in upcoming weeks.

4. “God’s Not Dead” (Freestyle) Week 3 – Last weekend #5

$7,726,000 (-12%) in 1,758 theaters (+580); PSA: $4,395; Cumulative: $32,520,000

All of a sudden it looks possible that this $2 million off-the-radar polemical Christians-as-victims films might end up being the top indie release of the year so far, with a chance of ultimately outgrossing “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” Expanding far wider than initially expected, with the potential for more to come, and also holding above average overall (the PSA fell about 40% this weekend) this continues to amaze with little mainstream attention (it still hasn’t been reviewed in either the New York or Los Angeles Times despite playing both cities).

What comes next: The religious indie film world already was on the rise, but this success will mean an uptick in production and more initial wide play ahead, even if it comes from outside regular studio channels.

5. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” (Fox Searchlight) Week 5- Last weekend #6

$6,300,000 (-26%) in 1,263 theaters (+286); PSA: $4,988; Cumulative: $33,380,000

Still doing well, but beginning to fall in gross despite still adding 20% more theaters. The PSA dropped from $8,741 last weekend, in part because of the higher theater count, but still a sign that this has its limits as a crossover, wider audience film. Still, in its fifth weekend it has a total above what Wes Anderson’s previous success “Moonrise Kingdom” had amassed in its ninth (its widest, at 924 theaters). This looks like a sure shot to pass $50 million.

What comes next: If it makes it past $57 million (likely, close to the “12 Years a Slave” total) this will be Fox Searchlight’s biggest hit since “The Descendants,” and their biggest ever without the boost of year-end awards campaigns aiding the gross.

6. “Muppets Most Wanted” (Buena Vista) Week 3 – Last weekend #3

$6,285,000 (-44%) in 3,052 theaters (-142); PSA: $2,059; Cumulative: $42,142,000

This continues to struggle to amass the hoped-for total. The previous
series entry took in $88 million domestic (a little less than than
international). Even with a boost from ongoing school vacations, this isn’t
likely to hit $70 million. Much of the world has yet to open, but the take based
on results thus far and previous foreign interest for earlier films suggests not
much more than $125 million total. With a $50 million pre-marketing budget, this
could struggle to see profit.

What comes next: No one handles post-theatrical venues, particularly for kids’ films, better than Disney, so this could still end up in the black and doing well enough to justify more sequels.

7. “Mr. Peabody and Sherman” (Twentieth Century Fox) Week 5 – Last weekend #4

$5,300,000 (-42%) in 2,931 theaters (-368); PSA: $2,931; Cumulative: $102,202,000

This looks like a success with a $100 million + domestic figure, but worldwide this hasn’t yet reached $250 million. With an initial budget of $145 million, this Dreamworks Animation entry could still struggle to make a profit. Japan doesn’t play until November though, and if China releases it, those combined numbers could do the trick,

What comes next: With ongoing school vacations throughout April, this might still hit $120 million at home.

8.. “Sabotage” (Open Road) Week 2 – Last weekend #7

$1,908,000 (-64%) in 2,486 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $767; Cumulative: $8,767,000

Schwarzenegger’s late career flop fell almost 2/3s from its weak
opening, which confirms what was obvious last weak — that except
possibly in ensemble situations, his days as a lead actor are over.

What comes next: This will struggle to gross even $12 million domestic.

9. “Need for Speed” (Buena Vista) Week 4 – Last weekend #8

$1,836,000 (-57%) in 1,779 theaters (-926); PSA: $1,032; Cumulative: $40,839,000

This Dreamworks Studio actioner remains weak in the U.S., but worldwide it is approaching an impressive $200 million, pushing this into positive territory despite its domestic shortfall.

What comes next: Major territories like Japan, South Korea and France are still to open, so this has a lot more to take in overseas.

10. “Non-Stop” (Universal) Week 6 – Last weekend #10

$1,800,000 (-54%) in 1,724 theaters (-791); PSA: $1,724; Cumulative: $88,100,000

Nearing the end of a strong run (even stronger overseas) and sticking around the Top 10 despite falling more than half this weekend.

What comes next: It won’t quite make $100 million, but its over $200 million worldwide take more than justifies this mostly European financed film’s $50 million budget,

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