|A scene from “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” (AP)|
The strong second-week performance for the Walt Disney release in North America was enough to narrowly edge 20th Century Fox’s “Rio 2” in a springtime battle of sequels. The animated Amazon jungle tale “Rio 2” debuted with $39 million, according to studio estimates Sunday, almost exactly the opening weekend total of the 2011 Oscar-nominated original.
But “Captain America” has grown considerably in stature since its 2011 original, “The First Avenger.” With a global cumulative total of nearly $477 million, “The Winter Soldier” has (in two weeks domestically, three weeks internationally) easily surpassed the $370 million total of “The First Avenger.”
For a superhero whose costume is draped with the U.S. flag, Captain America (played by Chris Evans) has proven particularly popular abroad. The international appeal of such a traditionally patriot figure was once doubted.
“The traditional rules just don’t apply anymore. It’s really about that Marvel brand,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for box-office tracker Rentrak. “‘Captain America’ can play in Peoria just as well as Hong Kong.”
Two other new releases opened in a distant third and fourth place.
The low-budget supernatural horror film “Oculus” took in $12 million for Relativity Media.
The football drama “Draft Day,” starring Kevin Costner and directed by Ivan Reitman, debuted weakly with $9.8 million. Made with the cooperation of the National Football League, the Lionsgate release is the second movie this year, along with the thriller “3 Days to Kill,” to attempt to restore the 59-year-old Costner to leading man status.
The overall box office for the year is up more than 7 percent over 2013’s record box-office haul. The month of April has been propelled especially by the summer-style release of “The Winter Soldier” and a number of less likely successes.
With $39.5 million domestically, the Wes Anderson caper “The Grand Budapest Hotel” has performed exceptionally in a gradual release by Fox Searchlight. The independently released Christian film “God’s Not Dead,” from Freestyle Releasing, has made a whopping $40.7 million in four weeks.
Just holding in the top five was Lionsgate’s teen science-fiction franchise-starter “Divergent,” which added $7.5 million in its fourth week to bring its cumulative total to $124.9 million. Lionsgate announced Friday that the third installment in the series (a sequel for 2015 is already in the works) will be split into two releases. The final book in Veronica Roth’s young-adult trilogy, “Allegiant,” will be made into two installments, one to open in March 2016, the other in March 2017.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Rentrak. Where available, latest international numbers are also included. Final domestic figures will be released on Monday.