Weekend Box Office (April 4 - 6, 2014)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Marvel magic worked wonders again as the super hero sequel Captain America: The Winter Soldier opened to record business while pulverizing the competition in the process. The Disney release debuted to a gigantic $95M, according to final studio figures, setting a new April opening weekend record beating the $86.2M of 2011's Fast Five. Factor out three years of ticket price increases and 3D surcharges and the audience sizes were about the same.

Still, Winter Soldier delivered summer-level grosses in early April proving that the right event films can attract monster business at any time of year. Playing in 3,938 locations, the new Steve Rogers film averaged a stellar $24,130 and was the biggest debut of 2014 by far. The three-day take was an encouraging 46% better than the $65.1M of its 2011 predecessor and 11% higher than the $85.7M of recent Marvel sequel Thor: The Dark World from November. Winter Soldier benefitted from fans liking the first Captain America film and loving The Avengers plus the new chapter had expanded roles from franchise regulars Samuel L. Jackson and Scarlett Johansson adding to the starpower.

Reviews were very strong and audiences agreed with critics giving it a solid A grade from CinemaScore. Soldier skewed heavily male (64%) and played older as 57% were over 25. 40% of the gross came from 3D formats which was a bit higher than the 38% for the last Cap pic. 346 IMAX screens delivered a whopping $9.6M, or 10% of the gross.

Friday kicked off with $36.9M including $10.2M from Thursday night shows starting at 8pm. Saturday dipped 6% to $34.7M while Sunday fell by 32% to $23.4M. The last Thor - which also started with 8pm Thursday night previews - played a bit differently with Saturday inching up 1% but Sunday dropped by the exact same amount. Reaching $225M domestic is quite possible for the new Captain America.

Overseas results were fantastic as well with Winter Soldier's international cume already surpassing that of its predecessor after less than two weeks of play. The super soldier grossed a towering $107.1M from overseas markets this weekend led by a gargantuan debut in China of $39.2M. That was a new Marvel record in that lucrative territory beating Iron Man 3 and The Avengers. Chris Evans and company traveled to Beijing for a glitzy fan event and press conference to hype up their product there.

The new Captain America has now amassed $207.1M internationally and sits at a hefty $302M worldwide with plenty of cash still to come as key markets Japan and Brazil have yet to open. Look for global grosses to eventually surpass $700M on this tentpole which cost roughly $175M to produce.

Last week's leader Noah fell sharply in its second weekend grossing $17M, down a hefty 61%. Mixed word-of-mouth and competition from a new action tentpole both contributed to the large decline. Paramount's Russell Crowe starrer has now collected $72.4M from North America on its way to a possible $110M domestic final. Overseas love has been stronger as Noah banked $45.6M this weekend from 45 markets lifting the overseas tally to $106.2M and the global gross to $178.5M. Brazil led the new openers with a huge $8.5M (fourth best debut in history) while Russia leads the holdovers with $26.6M to date.

Down 49% in its third round was the sci-fi flick Divergent with $13M boosting Lionsgate's cume to $114M. Faith-based hit God's Not Dead expanded again in its third weekend and grossed $7.8M, off just 12%, for a $32.6M sum for Freestyle.

The Wes Anderson winner The Grand Budapest Hotel continued its red hot roll-out expanding another round and capturing $6.1M. Off 28%, the Fox Searchlight release has grossed $33.2M and is on its way to topping $55M.

Two kidpics followed with good holds countering the arrival of the gun-heavy super hero tentpole which parents of younger children would avoid. Disney's Muppets Most Wanted dipped 46% to $6.1M while the DreamWorks toon Mr. Peabody & Sherman fell 43% to $5.1M while joining the century club. Cumes to date are $42M and $102M, respectively.

A trio of action titles rounded out the top ten with just under $2M a piece. Arnold Schwarzenegger's insta-flop Sabotage tumbled 62% from its weak debut to $2M and poor $8.9M total for Open Road. Need for Speed fell 57% to $1.8M and has banked a disappointing $40.8M to date. Liam Neeson's hit Non-Stop spent its sixth round in the top ten with $1.8M as well, off 55%. Universal's cume is a solid $88.1M.

The top ten films grossed $155.8M which was up 25% from last year when Evil Dead opened at number one with $25.8M; and up 35% from 2012 when The Hunger Games remained on top for a third weekend with $33.1M.

Compared to projections, Captain America: The Winter Soldier opened a few notches above my $90M prediction.

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For a NEW review of Winter Soldier visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Rio 2, Oculus, and Draft Day all open.

# Title Apr 4 - 6 Mar 28 - 30 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Captain America: The Winter Soldier $ 95,023,721 3,938 1 $ 24,130 $ 95,023,721 Disney
2 Noah 17,045,744 43,720,472 -61.0 3,571 2 4,773 72,386,905 Paramount
3 Divergent 12,976,413 25,619,578 -49.3 3,631 3 3,574 114,005,553 Lionsgate
4 God's Not Dead 7,762,603 8,797,666 -11.8 1,758 3 4,416 32,558,187 Freestyle
5 Muppets Most Wanted 6,145,357 11,279,128 -45.5 3,052 3 2,014 42,002,808 Disney
6 The Grand Budapest Hotel 6,115,230 8,539,795 -28.4 1,263 5 4,842 33,195,657 Fox Searchlight
7 Mr. Peabody & Sherman 5,131,458 9,070,635 -43.4 2,931 5 1,751 102,033,383 Fox
8 Sabotage 1,999,758 5,272,444 -62.1 2,486 2 804 8,858,343 Open Road
9 Need for Speed 1,807,160 4,226,216 -57.2 1,779 4 1,016 40,810,745 Disney
10 Non-Stop 1,793,330 4,010,885 -55.3 1,724 6 1,040 88,104,120 Universal
11 Bad Words 1,613,277 2,560,186 -37.0 1,074 4 1,502 5,941,681 Focus
12 300: Rise of an Empire 1,466,274 4,209,290 -65.2 1,555 5 943 104,023,926 Warner Bros.
13 The LEGO Movie 1,402,281 3,018,060 -53.5 1,350 9 1,039 250,608,584 Warner Bros.
14 Cesar Chavez 962,077 2,861,528 -66.4 664 2 1,449 4,598,172 Lionsgate
15 Frozen 399,877 337,736 18.4 321 20 1,246 398,938,890 Disney
16 Frankie & Alice 350,647 171 1 2,051 350,647 Lionsgate
17 The Single Moms Club 324,546 1,121,830 -71.1 425 4 764 15,659,828 Lionsgate
18 The Lunchbox 320,698 287,430 11.6 103 6 3,114 1,330,840 Sony Classics
19 Son of God 305,629 1,064,201 -71.3 481 6 635 58,545,275 Fox
20 Le Week-end 290,620 215,387 34.9 103 4 2,822 841,638 Music Box
Top 5 $ 138,953,838 $ 98,487,479 41.1
Top 10 155,800,774 124,746,109 24.9
Top 20 163,236,700 137,056,787 19.1
Top 20 vs. 2013 163,236,700 130,393,463 25.2

Last Updated: April 7, 2014 at 5:05PM ET

Watch Gitesh Pandya's weekly box office preview on CNN International airing live each Thursday at 6:40pm ET.

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