NORTH AMERICA: 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier' Sets New April Record with $96.2M

on April 06, 2014
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Sunday, April 6 Update: Captain America: The Winter Soldier debuted with an estimated $96.2 million this weekend and in the process set a new opening weekend record for the month of April (which was previously held by 2011's Fast Five with $86.2 million). The highly anticipated superhero sequel from Disney and Marvel debuted in line with its lofty pre-release expectations, which tended to range from $85 million to $100 million heading into the weekend. Captain America: The Winter Soldier delivered the largest opening weekend of 2014 to date, as it easily surpassed the $69.05 million start of The LEGO Movie back in February.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier opened 12 percent ahead of the $85.74 million start of last year's Thor: The Dark World and an impressive 48 percent ahead of the $65.06 million debut of 2011's Captain America: The First Avenger. That represented a larger opening weekend percentage increase than the 30.5 percent The Dark World increased over the $65.72 million start of 2011's Thor. It should also be noted that this weekend's start for The Winter Soldier was likely deflated slightly by the semi-finals games of the NCAA Final Four on Saturday.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier opened with $37.04 million on Friday (with a sizable $10.2 million of that gross coming from late night shows on Thursday), fell an understandable 6.5 percent on Saturday to gross $34.62 million and is estimated to decline 29 percent on Sunday to take in $24.54 million. That places the film's estimated opening weekend to Friday ratio at 2.60 to 1. The audience breakdown for The Winter Soldier skewed towards male moviegoers (64 percent) and towards moviegoers over the age of 25 (57 percent). The film received a strong A rating on CinemaScore.

On the heels of last weekend's stronger than expected start, Paramount's Noah held up poorer than widely expected this weekend with an estimated second place take of $17.0 million. The Darren Aronofsky directed biblical epic starring Russell Crowe was down a sizable 61 percent. Clearly, moviegoers rushed out to see Noah before Captain America: The Winter Soldier arrived on the scene, while mixed word of mouth for Noah among moviegoers also appears to have taken a toll this weekend. With that said, Noah has taken in a very solid $72.34 million in ten days and could still stabilize next weekend with the debut of The Winter Soldier now out of the way. Noah is currently running 8 percent behind the recent $78.41 million ten-day start of 300: Rise of an Empire (which fell 57 percent in its second weekend to gross $19.20 million).

Holding up significantly better was Lionsgate's Divergent, which was down a very respectable 49 percent to place in third with an estimated $13.0 million. The young adult adaptation starring Shailene Woodley continues to display relatively strong holding power and has now grossed $114.03 million in 17 days thanks in part to that holding power. Divergent is now running just 18 percent behind the $138.40 million 17-day start of 2008's Twilight.

God's Not Dead continued to hold up extremely well upon expanding further this weekend with an estimated fourth place take of $7.73 million. The faith-based drama from Freestyle and Pure Flix was down a very slim 12 percent from last weekend. God's Not Dead continues to cement its standing as one of the biggest surprises of 2014 thus far with a 17-day take of $32.52 million. That already places the film on the verge of surpassing the $34.52 million final gross of 2011's Courageous.

Fox Searchlight's The Grand Budapest Hotel claimed fifth with an estimated $6.3 million. Upon expanding into additional locations this weekend, the Wes Anderson directed film fell 26 percent from last weekend. With a 31-day take of $33.38 million, The Grand Budapest Hotel is quickly approaching the $45.51 million final gross of 2012's Moonrise Kingdom.

Muppets Most Wanted followed closely behind in sixth with an estimated $6.29 million and could obviously still move into fifth place when actuals are released on Monday. The latest Muppets film from Disney was down 44 percent. Muppets Most Wanted surpassed the $40 million mark this weekend and has grossed an underwhelming $42.14 million through 17 days of release.

Fellow family film Mr. Peabody & Sherman placed in seventh with an estimated $5.3 million. In the process, the 3D computer animated film from Fox and DreamWorks Animation surpassed the $100 million domestic mark this weekend. Mr. Peabody & Sherman has grossed a respectable $102.20 million in 31 days, but is likely to take a significant hit from the release of fellow Fox computer animated film Rio 2 this coming Friday.

On the platform front, A24's Under the Skin was off to a noteworthy start with an estimated $140,000 from 4 locations in New York and Los Angeles. That gave the sci-fi film starring Scarlett Johansson a promising per-location average of $35,000 for the frame. Under the Skin is scheduled to expand into additional locations this coming Friday.

By Shawn Robbins

Saturday, April 5 Update: Disney reports that Captain America: The Winter Soldier bagged $37 million on opening day, setting the stage for what the BoxOffice staff projects will be a $94 million weekend. Fast Five's $86.2 million April record should go down, while the Marvel sequel is also surpassing Disney's own expectations of an opening around $85 million. Cap's Friday also topped the Fast sequel's $34.4 million for a record April opening day.

Worth noting is that Cap's Thursday evening business represented a larger share (28 percent) of opening day than its counterparts, Iron Man 3 (22.7 percent) and Thor: The Dark World (22.2 percent). This indicates that fan excitement was more potent than already expected compared to that of general audiences on the first day of release--although it did top Thor 2's post-Thursday opening day business by $2 million.  Still, Marvel films have been known to generate better-than-expected holds over the weekend due to their nature as matinee-friendly flicks (due to high family appeal). For that reason, and given its somewhat unexpected pattern at the start of college basketball's popular Final Four weekend, this is one frame where we won't confidently the know full story until Sunday or Monday.

Another major advantage for the Captain sequel: word of mouth is exceptionally strong so far, earning an impressive 95 percent score from the Flixster audience as of Saturday morning. Regardless of how this weekend plays out from here, it would be very surprising if Winter Soldier doesn't boast healthier long-term legs than Marvel's first two post-Avengers entries.

Meanwhile, Noah encountered a sizable decline as expected. The film was down 68 percent from opening day to $4.91 million yesterday. With $60.25 million in the bank after 8 days, BoxOffice projects Darren Aronofsky's controversial Biblical adaptation will pull in $16.5 million for its sophomore frame.

Check BoxOffice on Sunday morning for official weekend projections from the studios and the BoxOffice staff's updated analysis on Captain America: The Winter Soldier's domestic opening.

Friday Update #2: Sources report that post-Thursday business for Captain America: The Winter Soldier is quite strong, although perhaps not as explosive as Thursday's performance indicated in comparison to the trends of Iron Man 3 and Thor 2. The Cap's sequel could now be in store for a sub-$40 million Friday total, still giving it a great shot to land in the $90-100 million range for the weekend (which would still break the April record). Disney and Marvel would be more than pleased with that.

It's worth mentioning that the higher movies perform, the more erratic early projections tend to be. One component of that is the uncertainty between stronger- or weaker-than-expected West Coast night business at the time of this update (6:35 Pacific).

Check BoxOffice on Saturday morning for official Friday estimates from the studios.

Friday, April 4 Update #1: Sources report that Captain America: The Winter Soldier exploded out of the gate on Thursday evening to the tune of $10.2 million.

That tops the $7.1 million Thursday night bow of Thor: The Dark World and sets the Captain's sequel on course for a nine-figure opening weekend that will handily top Fast Five's $86.2 million April record.

Check BoxOffice later today for more updates on The Winter Soldier's domestic launch.

Thursday, April 3 Update: Fandango reports that Captain America: The Winter Soldier boasts a healthy 82 percent of the site's advance sales for this weekend, and it's currently on pace to become the ticketing site's biggest April pre-seller of all time. The record was previously held by Fast Five.

"Captain America is selling like a summer blockbuster," says Fandango Chief Correspondent Dave Karger. "The extremely positive buzz on social media is generating the hottest advance ticket sales we've ever seen on Fandango for an April release."

According to a Fandango survey of more than 1,000 Captain America: The Winter Soldier moviegoers:
· 92% had seen "The Avengers" on the big screen;

· 90% were excited to see Samuel L. Jackson return as Nick Fury;

· 85% said the more active female role (for Scarlett Johansson as Natasha/Black Widow) increased their interest in the movie, and 83% would want to see a standalone "Black Widow" movie.

Wednesday, April 2 Update: Fandango reports that advance sales for Captain America: The Winter Soldier are ahead of Thor: The Dark World's at the same point and stronger than any previous April release.

Meanwhile, an unnamed source within Disney cites that the studio is forecasting an opening in the $85 million range.

Tuesday, April 1: For those interested in *real* news on this April Fool's Day...

The official start of the summer movie season is one month away, but that doesn't matter for Disney and Marvel. One of their 2014 tentpoles in Captain America: The Winter Soldier is days away from its domestic launch, and tracking indicates the sequel is poised to top the $85.7 million opening of its cinematic universe's spiritual predecessor, Thor: The Dark World. Simultaneously, the Steve Rogers follow-up chapter is aiming to push through Fast Five's $86.2 million bow three years ago and stake the best April opening ever.

For some brief number-crunching: The Winter Soldier is driving equal or higher interest among men and women of all ages compared to last November's Thor sequel. Men over the age of 25 polled nearly 20 percent stronger "first choice" numbers at the same point in the pre-release cycle. Women under 25 represent another noticeable area of improved interest. One minor trouble spot is in unaided awareness, which lagged behind Dark World by nearly 50 percent as of Monday. The film's final marketing push could still close that gap before Friday.

When it comes to online buzz, Soldier has nothing to fear: Twitter activity has stood out consistently, the film is adding Facebook fans at a quicker pace than Thor 2 during its week of release (Captain claims 10.8 million total fans as of Tuesday), and Flixster's user base has given it a superb 99 percent "want to see" score across 139,000+ voters (also besting The Dark World). Presently, that combination of figures tops any other 2014 movie.

The April 4 release date marks experimental territory for Disney/Marvel and the entire industry. Before 2009, no April title had generated an opening weekend of more than $42.2 million. Two Fast & Furious franchise sequels and Clash of the Titans changed the status quo between 2009 and 2011, opening Hollywood up to the idea that audiences will turn out for event films no matter when they're released. The Hunger Games further cemented the notion when it delivered one of the best openings in history ($152.5 million) back in March 2012.

April has never seen a film debut over $100 million, but with The Winter Soldier, a first real contender for nine-figure success has presented itself.

The Captain America sequel is coming off its $75.2 million overseas debut from 32 markets last weekend. That trailed the $109.4 million 36-country launch of Thor: The Dark World, but already represents 39 percent of Captain America: The First Avenger's $193.9 million international cume in 2011. As the tentpole character of the Avengers franchise, Iron Man 3 posted an overseas opening of $198.4 million from 42 markets at the start of last summer.

Winter Soldier wasn't expected to open as large as the Iron Man or Thor sequels internationally due to the former brand's domestic-leaning appeal, competition with Paramount's Noah, and its release outside of a major moviegoing season.

Further snowballing audience enthusiasm are ecstatic critical reactions that champion the new direction and action-thriller concepts brought to the series by directors Anthony and Joe Russo. Winter Soldier boasts an impressive 92 percent "fresh" rating from 60 Rotten Tomatoes reviews as of Tuesday morning. If it holds around that mark, the sequel would finish on par with Iron Man and The Avengers (93 and 92 percent, respectively)--excellent news for word of mouth as those films represent the leggiest installments of Marvel's Cinematic Universe. Positive reports from those who have seen the film point to more long-term potential than Thor: The Dark World's $206 million domestic haul.

With the most Avengers connections of any of Marvel's Phase Two films (largely thanks to the presence of Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow and Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury), moviegoers have even more reason to turn out for the Captain's second solo outing.

Additionally, the film's marketing team has done an excellent job at playing up the "must-see" factor by showing off the film's massive visual scale and set pieces. Should things continue firing on all cylinders, Winter Soldier is in store for a global tally well north of $500 million.

Stay tuned to BoxOffice for further updates on Captain America: The Winter Soldier's domestic release and continued overseas rollout.

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Follow Shawn Robbins and BoxOffice on Twitter for global box office news and analysis

Tags: Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: The First Avengers, Marvel's The Avengers, Iron Man 3, Thor, Thor: The Dark World, Marvel, Disney, Chris Evans, north-america, The Hunger Games
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