By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood April 20, 2014 at 1:03PM
This Easter weekend three religious-themed films made the Top 10, led by new opener "Heaven Is for Real" (Sony) which barely missed taking the #2 spot despite playing in more than 1,000 fewer screens than the box office leaders. This unheralded low-budget effort reinforces the most significant trend of 2014 so far: faith-based films nabbing substantial audiences (even "Noah" got a piece of this action).
For the third week running, the top film is "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" (Marvel/Buena Vista), which looks to be among the year's very best grossers, particularly worldwide. But with three other openers falling below expectations, particularly Warner Bros.' "Transcendence," once expected to be a top spring hit, the overall weekend total is disappointing. The $118 million total marks an uptick from the same calendar weekend last year, but falls $20 million below last year's earlier Easter.
Way over expectations is the year's penultimate specialized opener, "Fading Gigolo" (Millennium), which came in around $200,000 in five theaters. Despite a mixed critical response, this sexy John Turturro-directed comedy, with a lead performance from Woody Allen, is the specialized surprise of the year. More on this and other specialized films in Arthouse Audit.
1. "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" (Buena Vista) Week 3 - Last weekend #1
$26,612,000 (-36%) in 3,825 theaters (-113); PSA (per screen average): $6,957; Cumulative: $201,526,000
The great news for Marvel keeps rolling along. With its third weekend at #1, this latest "Captain America" effort now has a domestic total far surpassing the previous effort, and also is only $5 million short of the producer's most recent film, "Thor: The Dark World." Even better, worldwide, its take is now approaching $600 million, while the first one didn't hit $400. And it opened in early April, usually not a date associated with this stratospheric level of performance.
What comes next: Marvel has become a money-printing machine for all involved, and this success just adds to the legend.
2. "Rio 2" (20th Century Fox) Week 2 - Last weekend #2
$22,500,000 (-43%) in 3,975 theaters (+27); PSA: $5,660; Cumulative: $75,383,000
The gross by itself is decent enough, but the drop for a holiday weekend with a Friday school holiday is more worrisome. The first "Rio" had amassed $81 million through 10 days by comparison, meaning that this will likely fall short of the $143 million domestic take of the previous film. International fortunately is far better so far ($124 million before this weekend), so with a reasonable (about $100 million) budget, this should still turn out OK or above.
What comes next: With the foreign haul, this should do enough to keep the series going.