“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” was on a record-breaking tear at the box office Saturday, after posting a huge $37 million Friday that put it on track for a weekend total that could hit $100 million.
It’s pacing to be the biggest April opening ever, ahead of the $86.1 million that “Fast Five” posted in 2011, and easily the year’s top debut over the $69 million that “The Lego Movie” put up in February. And it will beat the opening of the last Marvel superhero sequel from Disney, “Thor: The Dark World,” which rolled out with $85.7 million in November. That one took in $31.9 million on its first day.
So the box-office momentum of “Marvel’s the Avengers,” the 2012 blockbuster that’s the third-highest grossing movie of all time, is still being felt in a major way. “Iron Man 3,” which opened to $178 million last May and went on to take in $1.2 billion worldwide benefited similarly.
Whether the PG-13-rated “Winter Soldier” hits $100 million will depend on the extent to which word of mouth powers a Saturday turnout. First-night audiences gave it an “A” CinemaScore Friday and the critics are on board in a big way — 88 percent on Rotten Tomatoes — so it’s not that long of a shot.
With 3D in roughly 80 percent of its market-high 3,938 theaters, 341 IMAX theaters and 316 Premium Large Format sites, “The Winter Soldier” was getting a boost from premium tickets. And $10.2 million of the Friday haul came from Thursday night screenings.
Chris Evans returns as Captain America and allies himself with Scarlett Johansson‘s Black Widow and Anthony Mackie’s Falcon in the $170 million “Winter Soldier,” which also features Robert Redford as a shadowy bureaucrat. Joe and Anthony Russo direct, from a script by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, while Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige again rides herd as a producer.
“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” was dominating.
Last weekend’s No. 1 movie, Paramount’s Russell Crowe Biblical epic “Noah,” was a distant second with $4.9 million from 3,571 theaters Friday. That projects to a nearly $17 million second week for director Darren Aronofsky’s controversial take on the Old Testament tale, which would be a roughly 60 percent drop from its debut.
Lionsgate’s young adult sci-fi tale “Divergent” was third on Friday with an estimated $4.1 million. That translates to a $13 million third week for the Shailene Woodley-Theo James adventure, which has taken in more than $100 million domestically.
“God’s Not Dead” continues to show surprising staying power, after expanding by 587 theaters to 1,765 locations for its third week. The low-budget drama about a college student trying to convince his skeptical professor that there is a Deity brought in $2.2 million Friday and finished fourth for distributor Freestyle Releasing. That means it will wind up at around $8 million for the three days, which would put it over $30 million domestically.
Fox Searchlight gave “The Grand Budapest Hotel” its widest run yet, adding 286 sites to bring the theater count to 1,263, and it brought in $1.8 million Friday. Writer-director Wes Anderson’s R-rated ensemble comedy is looking at a three-day total of around $6.1 million. With $27 million domestically and another $45 million from overseas, it’s the writer-director’s highest grossing film with $72 million worldwide.
“Grand Budapest” will likely run behind Disney’s “Muppets Most Wanted” and just ahead of “Mr. Peabody & Sherman” for the weekend. The “Muppets” sequel brought in $1.5 million and is looking at a $6.4 million three-day total that would raise its domestic total to $42 million after three weeks. DreamWorks Animation’s “Mr. Peabody” rung up $1.3 million Friday and is on course for a $5.3 million fifth week that would lift over $100 million domestically for distributor Fox.
Liam Neeson’s “Non-Stop,” Disney’s “”Need For Speed” and “Sabotage” rounded out the top ten. Things didn’t get any better for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s action movie “Sabotage,” which dropped a whopping 69 percent from its limp opening last weekend, and may not clear $9 million after two weeks for Open Road Films.