By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood April 12, 2014 at 7:17PM
Twentieth Century Fox is happy, as "Rio 2" took Number One at the Friday box office with a reported $12 million, placing it just ahead of the second weekend for Number Two, Marvel's "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" (Buena Vista) at $11.9 million. With matinees ahead, the animated sequel should score a clear victory when three-day totals come in.
The further good news for Fox is that the gross is about 15% better than the initial day for the first "Rio" (although that is normal for a sequel to an original series entry). And overall, the combination of two strong films leading the pack led to a Top 10 total of $41 million, substantially ahead of $32 million from the same weekend last year.
Two other openers lag far behind the frontrunners, with Relativity's "Oculus" (which premiered in Toronto's Midnight Madness program) at Number Three at just under $5 million. As a low-budget acquisition ($2.5 million plus marketing), this is an adequate first-day launch, but reports of a weak C Cinemascore suggest that the weekend total may double that figure and the film might not sustain much of a run. The lack of a hit horror film so far this year is further evidence of a sharp drop off in ticket buying among the late teen/early 20 demographic that continues to be an industry concern.
Older audiences didn't respond much to Number Four, "Draft Day" (Lionsgate), from director Ivan Reitman and star Kevin Costner. It managed only $3,580,000 and won't get much beyond $10 million for its opening. Even if the budget is modest this won't be any sort of success unless it gets great word of mouth.
"Captain America" had the most dramatic fall of more than two-thirds, but last week's monstrous gross included Thursday night shows. By the time the full second weekend is in, the drop should be under 60%, not unusual for a front-loaded giant opener and on par with Marvel's last entry, "Thor: The Dark World," which ended at over $200 million domestic, which "Captain" should easily surpass (it's already at almost $130 million).
Number Five "Divergent" (Lionsgate) did $2,350,000 for its fourth Friday, down a bit less than 50% and now approaching $120 million, a solid if not spectacular beginning for this planned-for franchise (the studio announced that the forthcoming third film would be split into two parts, as they proposed previously with "Twilight" and "Hunger Games" entries).
On its third weekend, Number Six "Noah" (Paramount) plummeted from #2 last weekend with a gross of $2 million, just under 60% below last Friday, with the film only at $79.4 million thus far.
Numbers Seven and Eight, two expanding outside-the-mainstream films, fell off after weeks of improved grosses. "God's Not Dead" (Freestyle) did just under $1.6 million (down from $2.2) but is already at a totally unanticipated $37 million. "The Grand Budapest Hotel" (Fox Searchlight) grossed almost $1.2 million (off from over $1.8 million) and now clocks just under $37 million.
Filling out the Top Ten are two family films that both took a hit from "Rio 2" competition, and fell more than 50%. Number Nine "Muppets Most Wanted" (Buena Vista) took in $565,000 and Number Ten "Mr. Peabody and Sherman" (DreamWorks/Fox) did $450,000, as they hold out hopes of an uptick next week with many schools out for vacation.
Among limited releases, the three with the most anticipation provided variable opening day returns, none spectacular. Jim Jarmusch's well-received "Only Lovers Left Alive" (Sony Pictures Classics) grossed $31,000 in four to score the best totals. Weinstein's Colin Firth-starrer "The Railway Man" managed $18,000, also in four. David Gordon Green's "Joe" with Nicolas Cage grossed $28,000, but it was spread over 48 theaters to go along with its home viewing Video on Demand opportunities.