By Daniel Garris
Captain America: The Winter Soldier debuted with $95.02 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 11 percent ahead of the $85.74 million start of last year's Thor: The Dark World and an impressive 46 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 $36.93 million on Friday (with a sizable $10.2 million of that gross coming from late night shows on Thursday), fell an understandable 6 percent on Saturday to gross $34.67 million and declined 32 percent on Sunday to take in $23.43 million. That places the film's opening weekend to Friday ratio at 2.57 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.
Today Disney officially announced that it would be releasing Captain America 3 on May 6, 2016. As has been widely discussed, that is also the current release date for Warner's Untitled Superman and Batman Film.
On the heels of last weekend's stronger than expected start, Paramount's Noah held up poorer than widely expected this weekend with a second place take of $17.05 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 $72.39 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 $12.98 million. The young adult adaptation starring Shailene Woodley continues to display relatively strong holding power and has now grossed $114.01 million in 17 days thanks in part to that holding power. Divergent is currently 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 a fourth place take of $7.76 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 $32.56 million. That already places the film on the verge of surpassing the $34.52 million final gross of 2011's Courageous.
Muppets Most Wanted rounded out the weekend's top five with $6.15 million. The latest Muppets film from Disney was down 46 percent. Muppets Most Wanted surpassed the $40 million mark this weekend and has grossed an underwhelming $42.00 million through 17 days of release.
Fox Searchlight's The Grand Budapest Hotel followed closely behind in sixth with $6.12 million. Upon expanding into additional locations this weekend, the Wes Anderson directed film fell 28 percent from last weekend. With a 31-day take of $33.196 million, The Grand Budapest Hotel is quickly approaching the $45.51 million final gross of 2012's Moonrise Kingdom.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman placed in seventh with $5.13 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 $102.03 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 $133,154 from 4 locations in New York and Los Angeles. That gave the sci-fi film starring Scarlett Johansson a promising per-location average of $33,289 for the frame. Under the Skin is scheduled to expand into additional locations this coming Friday.