The early weekend box office estimates are in, and unsurprisingly, Captain America: The Winter Soldier dominated the competition this weekend. Per the Sunday estimates, the sequel sold an estimated $96.2 million in ticket sales at the US domestic box office. In short, Captain America: The Winter Soldier demolished the April box office record this weekend. The current amount easily puts it ahead of the previous box office record holder for the month of April with the sequel, Fast Five, which was released in 2011 and had an opening weekend of $86.2 million.
The release strategy by Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Pictures to release the film during April instead of the more competitive summer months paid dividends. The April 4 release date kept the movie away from other comic book superhero movies, including Sony’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (May 2) and 20th Century Fox’s X-Men: Days of Future Past (May 23). Spider-Man and X-Men are currently two of the major Marvel Comic properties that are still licensed out to other studios, while Captain America still falls under the purview of Marvel Entertainment and its parent entity, The Walt Disney Company.
Now that Captain America: The Winter Soldier demolished the April box office record, it has also shattered the opening weekend of the first film, Captain America: The First Avenger, which opened in July 2011 with an opening weekend of about $65 million. The film finished with $176 million domestically and $370 million worldwide. Based off the current box office projections, Captain America: The Winter Soldier could surpass the total domestic box office take for Captain America: The First Avenger in under the next two weeks.
The international box office scene tells a similar story of domination for Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The film has now crossed the $200 million mark overseas. In total, Captain America: The Winter Soldier has now drawn an estimated worldwide box office take of approximately $303 million. The film got a head start on its overseas box office after opening in multiple territories across Europe, Asia, and South America about a week before its North American release. So after just two weekends, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is only about $67 million short of surpassing the complete worldwide box office take of Captain America: The First Avenger.
The opening domestic weekend take for Captain America: The Winter Soldier was a 48% increase over its predecessor. Box office analysts largely credit this type of increase to the success of The Avengers, which featured the stars of Captain America: The First Avenger, Thor, and Iron Man coming together. All the characters coexist in a cohesive cinematic universe. To compare Captain America: The Winter Soldier to its Marvel Studios peers that were also released after 2012’s The Avengers: Thor: The Dark World opened in November 2013 with $85.7 million (30% increase from the opening weekend for Thor); and Iron Man 3 opened in May 2013 with $174.1 million (36% increase from the opening weekend for Iron Man 2). All the solo-franchise characters will meet once again in Avengers: Age of Ultron, which is due out next year on May 1, 2015.
Presently, Marvel and Disney have scheduled Captain America 3 for a release of May 6, 2016. The release date comes opposite of the planned release date for the highly anticipated Batman vs. Superman movie from Warner Bros., which could hint at a future cinematic appearance of the Justice League. The Justice League is a team featuring the greatest heroes of the DC Comics imprint. Warner Bros. previously failed to get a Justice League movie off the ground previously in 2008. In the intervening years, Warner Bros. had success with Christopher Nolan’s take on the Batman franchise with The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. A Green Lantern franchise also failed to get off the ground. Due to the fact that Captain America: The Winter Soldier demolished the April box office record, the studio will probably be more confident about not budging Captain America 3 from its May 6 spot in order to avoid competition between Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment.
By Jeffrey Harris