The box office results continue to pour in, and audiences are evoking the longtime fan phrase of “Make Mine Marvel!” Per Box Office Mojo’s franchise index, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is now officially the highest grossing film franchise ever. The release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier put the Marvel Cinematic Universe over the top as the biggest film franchise ever. Currently, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) sits on top of the index with $2.475 billion, beating out the Harry Potter franchise’s total gross of $2.39 billion. Star Wars sits at No. 3 with $1.918 billion.
The MCU counts as the films which started with Iron Man in 2008 and continued to build from there as a single, continuous cinematic universe, encompassing multiple solo-franchise characters. The nine films of the MCU include: Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers, Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, and now Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Ultimately, the solo-characters came together in the landmark film, The Avengers, in 2012. The film went on to gross $623.4 million domestically and over $1.5 billion worldwide, making it the third highest-grossing film of all time.
Since the Captain America: The Winter Soldier was just recently released, the sequel will continue to push Marvel ahead as the biggest film franchise ever. The film has overall had a tremendous, positive reception, reinforcing the Marvel brand’s success at the cinemas. Having just had its first successful weekend at the North American domestic box office, it will soon battle against the 20th Century Fox/Blue Sky Studios animated comedy Rio 2 this weekend. Based on industry estimates, Captain America: The Winter Soldier will likely open between $38-43 million this weekend. As of Wednesday (April 9), the film currently sits at $113 million domestically after grossing approximately $4.8 million on Wednesday. Provided the film grosses another $4 million on Thursday, Captain America: The Winter Soldier will likely be well ahead of $150 million after the end of the weekend. The film is assured to surpass the domestic gross of its predecessor, Captain America: The First Avenger, which finished with $176 million domestically. Currently, The Winter Soldier is sitting on a worldwide box office total of $363 million, per Variety. This essentially means that Captain America: The Winter Soldier will surpass the entire worldwide box office gross of Captain America: The First Avenger ($370.5 million) by around Friday at the latest.
Despite the subject matter of a patriotic, American flag-bearing superhero, the film is doing remarkably well in overseas territories, especially the world’s most populous country in China. The Guardian reports that the film was No. 1 at the Chinese box office for its opening weekend there and occupies 40% of movie screens in the country. The opening weekend of $39.23 million in China was even higher than that of the opening weekend for Iron Man 3, which Marvel and Walt Disney Studios co-produced in China with DMG entertainment. The film also featured an alternate version that was distributed exclusively for Chinese audiences. In short, thanks to the massive worldwide popularity and success of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the MCU will not be surrendering its top franchise slot anytime soon. And the MCU total will only continue go up as Captain America: The Winter Soldier still has a great deal of box office juice left. Plus, Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Pictures will also be releasing the next installment of the MCU, Guardians of the Galaxy, later this August. And the highly anticipated sequel to The Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron, will be released in May 2015.
However, the MCU will soon be getting some massive franchise competition in the form of the long-awaited sequel, Star Wars: Episode VII, due out in December 2015. Warner Bros. is also angling a Harry Potter franchise spin-off with a series of films based on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Harry Potter author and creator, J.K. Rowling, is making her screenwriting debut with the script for the first film. However, with Captain America: The Winter Soldier still pushing Marvel ahead as the biggest film franchise ever, plus the pending releases of Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers: Age of Ultron, it looks like it will be a long while before another franchise is able to snatch away that landmark spot.
By Jeffrey Harris