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Weekend Box Office: Captain America Makes Strong Superhero Start

by Anthony D'Alessandro
July 24, 2011 4:27 AM
1 Comment
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Thompson on Hollywood

Marvel has launched yet another comic superhero at the movies, Captain America. Anthony D'Alessandro reports.


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.

1 Comment

  • mary | July 24, 2011 5:25 AMReply

    "Friends With Benefits" opened less than "No Strings Attached" and several other R-rated comedies in this years, maybe because "Friends With Benefits" has more nude scenes than those other R-rated comedies. (Mila Kunis used body double to do the nude scene, though)
    In US, many mainstream audience want lead actresses to keep their clothes on when they do sex scene. (ie. Kristen Wiig still wears a bra in her sex scene in "Bridesmaids")

    Heppily surprised to see that "Sarah's Key" can open that well despite of mostly medicore reviews. It may proves again that Kristin Scott Thomas is bankable in US arthouse market. (Recently, her other starrers like "The Valet", "I've Loved You So Long ", "Tell No One" and "Easy Virtue " also enjoyed box office successes in US arthouse market.)

    Will "Cave of Forgotten Dreams" officially outgross "I Am Love" in this weekend? If so, "Cave of Forgotten Dreams" would outgross all films that received simultaneous theatrical/VOD releases in US. ("Cave of Forgotten Dreams" has still not been released on VOD yet)

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