The stars aligned around the Paramount logo this weekend as the Marvel Entertainment production Captain America: The First Avenger became the summer’s biggest superhero opener at $65.8 million, beating Thor ($65.7 million), X-Men: First Class ($55.1 million) and DC’s Green Lantern ($53.2 million). Women who had their fill of watching men in tights took in another showing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 ($48.1 million) or Sony/Screen Gems' kinky romantic comedy Friends With Benefits at $18.5 million.
While Captain America delivered for both Marvel and Paramount, there’s a sense of summer box office ennui: Some b.o. analysts were expecting that this summer’s string of superhero films would post Iron Man ($98.6 million bow, $318.4 million domestic cume) level results. Now it appears that $50-60+ million is the norm for second-tier heros like Green Lantern, The Hulk, Fantastic Four and Thor. This is not to say that Captain American won’t make money, especially if it trods a path similar to Thor ($180 million domestic B.O., $446 million global). But Paramount may have spent well over $100 million-plus on its immense marketing campaign, which canvassed everything from Dunkin Donuts tie-ins to vintage war posters. In terms of rental collections worldwide, Thor has raked in an estimated $200 million before marketing expenses. To Marvel’s credit over Warner Bros.’ DC, they’ve kept their comic book adaptations at a manageable budget: Captain America cost $140 million, $10 million less than Thor. Paramount is taking an 8% distribution and marketing fee.
With Captain America drew men at 64%, mostly over-25 (58%). The other explanation for the superhero fatigue is that not enough kids are watching them. While a Transformers: Dark of the Moon can pull in 55% under 25, superhero films have skewed older with Thor’s opening under 25 demo repping 28%, Green Lantern’s 37% and X-Men: First Class faring the best with 46%. Perhaps the silver lining for most of them lies in their second installments: X-Men saw a 57% boost in its opening weekends between chapters 1 and 2 Dark Knight improved on Batman Begins' numbers by 225%. WOM looks good for Captain America as it received an A- Cinemascore, beating Thor’s B+. 40% of Captai America's business was at 3-D venues, charting slightly under Deathly Hallows' 43%.
Sony-Screen Gems’ Friends With Benefits, R-rated f***buddies comedy in the vein of the Natalie Portman-Ashton Kutcher vehicle No Strings Attached clocked in lower than the $20 million estimate that was predicted. However, kudos to Sony for pumping out another bargain comedy. Similar to Bad Teacher which only cost the studio $20 million, Friends With Benefits’ pricetag was only $35 million. A B+ Cinemascore should work in their favor down the road as well as the fact the Mila Kunis-Justin Timberlake comedy earned better reviews at 70% fresh than No Strings Attached which was panned at 49% rotten. Though No Strings Attached clocked in a higher opening at $19.5 million (and finaled domestically at $70.7 million), it unspooled unopposed in late January. Women flocked to Friends With Benefits at 62%, 56% over 25.
Top Ten Box Office Chart.
1. Captain America: The First Avenger $65.8 million in its first weekend at 3,715 theaters. $17,719 theater average. Domestic total: $65.8 million.
2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 $48.1 million down 72% in its second weekend at 4,375 theaters. $10,986 theater average. Domestic total: $274.2 million.
3. Friends With Benefits (Sony/Screen Gems) $18.5 million in its first weekend at 2,926 theaters. $6,323 theater average. Domestic total: $18.5 million.
4. Transformers: Dark of the Moon $12 million down 44% in its fourth weekend at 3,375 theaters. $3,556 theater average. Domestic total: $325.8 million.
5. Horrible Bosses (WB/New Line) $11.7 million down 34% in its third weekend at 3,104 theaters. $3,776 theater average. Domestic total: $82.4 million.
6. Zookeeper (Sony) $8.7 million down 29% in its third weekend at 3,215 theaters. $2,706 theater average. Domestic total: $59.2 million.
7. Car 2 (Disney) $5.73 million down 32% in its fifth weekend at 2,668 theaters. $2,146 theater average. Domestic total: $176.4 million.
8. Winnie the Pooh $5.1 million down 35% in its second weekend at 2,405 theaters. $2,138 theater average. Domestic total $17.6 million.
9. Bad Teacher (Sony) $2.6 million down 50% in its fifth weekend at 2,034 theaters. $1,278 theater average. Domestic total: $94.4 million.
10. Midnight in Paris (Sony Classics) $1.9 million up 1% in its tenth weekend at 621 theaters. $3,058 theater average. Domestic total: $44.9 million.