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‘Captain Marvel’ Exceeds Expectations, But Superheroes Can’t Do All the Box-Office Work

Brie Larson proved to be a real superhero, but Marvel can’t do all the heavy lifting at the box office.

Brie Larson, "Captain Marvel"

“Captain Marvel”

Marvel Studios

Men comprised 55 percent of the audience for Marvel’s “Captain Marvel.” That helped the film reach a stellar $153 million opening gross and combined $455 million worldwide, disproving the trope of wide-audience rejection of a female superhero. If anything, the silly outrage might have helped this get more attention.

In adjusted figures, this represents the eighth-biggest Marvel opener, the best first weekend in nine months (since “Incredibles 2”), fourth biggest  opener in March, and the most positive box office news in a long time. But it also is an expected result which, by itself, doesn’t entirely deflect the recent downturn.

Brie Larson, "Captain Marvel"

“Captain Marvel”

Marvel Studios

For once, business actually went up (and strongly) from the similar weekend a year back. This reduced the deficit from last year to a little over 20 percent, cutting the dollar to about $510 million. That’s still a lot to overcome. Upcoming openings of Jordan Peele’s well received SXSW-premiered “Us” and Tim Burton’s “Dumbo” should help.

As would a sustained hold for “Captain Marvel.” Its A Cinemascore (sort of a default for the franchise, which rarely sees below A-) is a positive sign after reviews that were favorable but fell far short of the ecstatic “Panther” reception last year and the superior ones for “Wonder Woman” in 2017. But its Saturday drop (just under 14 percent) is in range with second full-day results for the bigger openings for “Panther” and “Infinity” last year, though about double the drop for”Wonder Woman.”

The male share dropped a little from the 58 percent total for “Infinity.” “Wonder Woman” was 52 percent female initially,with an opening only about two-thirds of “Captain Marvel.” Perhaps most significant about the “Marvel” numbers is they’re mainstream: The female lead (and co-director) brought a sense of originality and variation that sparked interest while retaining core fans, despite bleats of protest from some fragile egos.

Astrid (America Ferrera) and Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) in DreamWorks Animation’s How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, directed by Dean DeBlois.

“How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World”

© 2019 DreamWorks Animation LLC

The third entry in the “Train Your Dragon” franchise could use the help of upcoming Spring Break vacations. After posting the biggest domestic opening in the series, it now has fallen to last among them in its third weekend. Its drop of 51 percent was likely steeper because of the Marvel competition. Still, it symbolizes one of the ongoing issues this year so far: most films, irrespective of their openings seem to be falling faster.

“A Madea Family Funeral” at 55 percent down wasn’t much different from most second weekends for Tyler Perry’s signature character. And since the opening was stronger than expected, that brings it to a number ($45 million) that will put this ahead of all but one similar titles in the series since 2012.

But those two holdovers, plus “Captain Marvel,” were the only three to gross over $4 million this weekend. That is rare and looks close to be unprecedented. Two factors come into play: There’s a the lack of heat for recent titles, and an absence of other top titles to go head to head with a juggernaut. It’s great that top franchise films still draw, but the lack of supplemental draws is a continuing and serious issue.

Other than the expanding “Apollo 11,” which placed tenth despite only grossing $1.3 million (in 405 theaters, though it still dropped from its IMAX-enhanced numbers last week), the other continuing films fell in the range of 42 to 53 percent. Not huge drops, but resulting in numbers between $2 million and under $4 million. Those numbers belong in the bottom half of a Top Ten, if placing at all.

So definitely get excited about the top new films ahead. But if 2019 is ultimately going to find parity, it will need help from more than the very biggest titles.

The Top Ten

1. Captain Marvel (Disney) NEW – Cinemascore: A; Metacritic: 64; est. budget: $152 million

$153,000,000 in 4,310 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $35,499,000; Cumulative: $153,000,000

2. How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (Universal) Week 3; Last weekend #1

$14,696,000 (-51%) in 4,042 theaters (-244); PTA: $3,636; Cumulative: $119,662,000

3. A Madea Family Funeral (Lionsgate) Week 2; Last weekend #2

$12,050,000 (-55%) in 2,442 theaters (no change); PTA: $4,934; Cumulative: $45,880,000

4. The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Act (Warner Bros.) Week 5; Last weekend #4

$3,825,000 (-42%) in 2,930 theaters (-528); PTA: $1,305; Cumulative: $97,109,000

5. Alita: Battle Angel (20th Century Fox) Week 4; Last weekend #3

$3,200,000 (-56%) in 2,374 theaters (-722); PTA: $1,348; Cumulative: $78,346,000

6. Green Book (Universal) Week 17; Last weekend #6

$2,488,000 (-46%) in 2,097 theaters (-544; PTA: $1,186; Cumulative: $80,141,000

7. Isn’t It Romantic? (Warner Bros.) Week 4; Last weekend #7

$2,410,000 (-47%) in 2,223 theaters (-1,102); PTA: $1,084; Cumulative: $44,155,000

8. Fighting With My Family (MGM) Week 4; Last weekend #5

$2,189,000 (-%) in 2,455 theaters (-400); PTA: $892; Cumulative: $18,676,000

9. Greta (Focus) Week 2; Last weekend #8

$2,161,000 (-52%) in 2,417 theaters (+6); PTA: $894; Cumulative: $8,253,000

10. Apollo 11 (Neon) Week 2; Last weekend #15

$1,301,000 (-19%) in 405 theaters (+285); PTA: $3,212; Cumulative: $3,781,000

 

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