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‘Captain Marvel’ Aims to Overpower ‘Hunger Games’ and ‘Wonder Woman’ in Box Office Debut

Katniss Everdeen’s reign as the box office’s top-drawing heroine may be at an end

For the past seven years, “The Hunger Games” and its sequel, “Catching Fire,” have stood as the largest box office openings for any film with a woman in the sole leading role. But now Marvel Studios could add that to their hoard of box office records as “Captain Marvel” gets ready to hit theaters worldwide this week.

Right now, independent trackers have the latest MCU film earning an opening weekend of as much as $145 million. But between the overwhelming interest in seeing the first Marvel solo female superhero movie and its connection to the even more anticipated “Avengers: Endgame,” analysts who spoke to TheWrap say there’s a chance that “Captain Marvel” could beat the female lead opening record of $158 million, which was set by “Catching Fire” in November 2013.

And if “Captain Marvel” really overindexes, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that it could break the March opening weekend record of $174.7 million, set by the 2017 remake of “Beauty and the Beast.” Already, Fandango notes that “Captain Marvel” has had the most ticket presales on their site of any film since “Avengers: Infinity War.”

Disney, as usual, is keeping its projections conservative at a $125 million-plus opening. But even if “Captain Marvel” falls short of the “Hunger Games” record and ends up closer to Disney’s expected range, it would still be significantly higher than other recent Marvel films that debuted a new superhero. While the $202 million opening of “Black Panther” was a cultural outlier, a $125 million opening for “Captain Marvel” would beat the openings of “Doctor Strange” ($85 million) “Guardians of the Galaxy” ($94 million) and even “Spider-Man: Homecoming” ($117 million).

“The connection to ‘Endgame’ is going to be a real boost to this movie,” said Boxoffice’s Daniel Loria. “Thanks to that post-credits scene in ‘Infinity War’ and the fact that we’re so close to the next ‘Avengers’ film, it’s going to make that usual anticipation for a Marvel movie even bigger.”

On the long term side, “Captain Marvel” will face little four-quadrant competition this month, as the animated family film “Wonder Park” isn’t projected for an opening higher than $13 million while Jordan Peele’s horror film “Us” is looking at a solid $40 million opening but is aimed at a far narrower audience than what Marvel goes for.

That means that “Captain” has a chance to leg out over the next four weekends and possibly challenge the $412.5 million domestic total earned by the last major female superhero film, “Wonder Woman.”

“Captain Marvel” tells the story of Carol Danvers, a member of the Kree empire’s elite intergalactic military unit Starforce. When she crash lands on Earth in the 1990s, she stop an invasion of shapeshifting aliens known as the Skrulls with the help of future SHIELD director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). But along the way, she rediscovers memories that were believed to be erased; memories that reveal that she was once a human fighter pilot named Carol Danvers.

Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck directed the film from a script they co-wrote with Geneva Robertson-Dworet. The film also stars Ben Mendelsohn, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Lashana Lynch, Gemma Chan, Annette Bening, Clark Gregg, and Jude Law.