Continuing the success of their superhero franchise, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” has set a record as the biggest domestic April release ever. The Disney sequel debuted with $96.2 million, topping the previous record-holder, 2011’s “Fast Five,” which opened with $86.2 million.
“The Winter Soldier,” which stars Chris Evans as the shield-wielding superhero and Scarlett Johansson (whose science-fiction film “Under the Skin” also debuted last weekend with $140,000) as Black Widow, commanded 32 international markets last weekend.
Expanding to Russia, Australia and China in its second week, the Marvel comic adaptation, boasting a budget of over $170 million, earned $107.1 million internationally this weekend, bringing its overall worldwide haul to more than $303 million.
|This image released by Marvel shows Anthony Mackie in a scene from “Captain America: The Winter Soldier. (AP-Yonhap)|
Also a touchstone for Imax, “The Winter Soldier” received $9.6 million of its U.S. haul on 346 screens showing the film in the enhanced resolution format. Internationally, it showed on 278 Imax screens, bringing in $6.5 million, $4 million of which was delivered from China.
“Captain America: The First Avenger,” which had a budget of around $140 million, debuted in July 2011 with $65 million. Overall, it earned $371 million worldwide.
Why the shift to an April release rather than remaining a summer launch?
“We looked at the possibility of creating separation from the other summer tent poles,” said Dave Hollis, head of worldwide theatrical distribution for Disney. “There was an opportunity. We have the second Marvel film coming at the end of the summer in ‘Guardians of the Galaxy.’ We wanted to start and end the summer and take advantage of this holiday. In the next month or so we’ll have the benefit of spring break.”
“The Avengers effect,” as Hollis calls it, set the stage for the continuation of Marvel’s massive box office presence, which includes the “Iron Man” and “Thor” franchises. With the release of the films’ sequels, both have seen earning jumps of over 35 percent.
“There are very few movie brands that are this consistent,” Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for box-office tracker Rentrak, said of the Disney-Marvel team. “For ‘The Winter Soldier’ to push on $100 million in April shows that you can release a big movie any time of the year. Every studio is going to be looking at this date to plant their flag in the future.”
Meanwhile, Paramount’s biblical saga “Noah,” starring Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly and Emma Watson, took a drastic dip in its second weekend, earning $17 million after debuting with $44 million. Still, it sailed into second place, crossing the $70 million mark domestically, while pushing Lionsgate’s young adult science-fiction thriller “Divergent,” led by Shailene Woodley, to third with $13 million in its third week. Its stateside total is now $114 million.