“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” stormed the box office on Thursday night, racking up a commanding $10.2 million, according to studio estimates.
That figure compares favorably to other recent superhero releases such as “Man Of Steel,” which picked up $9 million for Thursday shows and “Thor: The Dark World,” which earned $8.8 million. It falls short of the $15.6 million that “Iron Man 3” earned in its initial Thursday run and the $18.7 million in midnight shows that “The Avengers” generated.
IMAX played a crucial role in the film’s impressive late-night debut, with $1.2 million of its earnings coming from 344 of the wide-screen format’s locations.
“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is on pace to hit $90 million at the weekend box office, which could make it the biggest April opening of all time, ahead of the $86.1 million high-water market established by “Fast Five” in 2011. It’s the kind of results usually reserved for broad, summer releases. It continues Hollywood’s new appetite for widening the boundaries of what constitutes blockbuster season, something that has paid off with recent hits such as February’s “The Lego Movie” and March’s “Divergent.”
The Marvel sequel comes armed with a slew of positive notices and has received praise for a ripped-from-the-headlines plot that finds Captain America unraveling a massive government conspiracy.
Disney is launching an impressive campaign that will deploy the $170-million film to 3,938 theaters. Roughly 80 percent will show it in 3D at a healthy surcharge. It will also enjoy a 344-theater IMAX run and will be in 316 Premium Large Format locations as well, for extra padding.
Pre-sales have been robust, with Fandango reporting that the film is on track to the biggest April release in company history.
Chris Evans returns as Captain America and allies himself with Scarlett Johansson‘s Black Widow and Anthony Mackie‘s Falcon. Robert Redford classes up the joint 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.