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If the pace of advance ticket sales is any indication, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is poised to score the top April opening of all time and cross $90 million in its North American debut this weekend. Some even wonder if it could approach $100 million.
On Thursday, the $170 million sequel became the top-selling April title in Fandango’s 14-year history, eclipsing Universal’s Fast Five, which debuted to $86.2 million in late April 2011. Fandango rival MovieTickets.com is also reporting brisk sales.
Overseas, the critically acclaimed tentpole is already a hit, racing past the $100 million mark on Wednesday after scoring $75.2 million last weekend from 32 markets. Captain America 2 opens in Russia and Australia on Thursday, and in China on Friday.
In North America, Marvel and Disney are essentially kicking off the box-office summer season a month early by deciding to open Captain America 2 on the first weekend in April.
Any domestic opening above $80 million or $85 million would be a rousing number for the movie, which looks to benefit from the post-Avengers glow. Like the first Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger launched to roughly $65 million domestically in July 2011. But the wild success of 2012’s The Avengers has seen fortunes rise for the Iron Man and Thor franchises (Thor: The Dark World opened to $85.7 million last November). The same is expected for The Winter Soldier, particularly since it is receiving stellar reviews.
Returning Chris Evans in the title role, as well as Avengers stars Scarlett Johansson and Samuel L. Jackson, Winter Soldier picks up two years after Avengers left off. Captain America and Black Widow (Johansson) discover there is a secret conspiracy within S.H.I.E.L.D. and fight to stop it, along with The Falcon, played by Anthony Mackie (some critics have described the film as an intriguing espionage tale, versus never-ending action). The villainous Winter Soldier is played by Sebastian Stan.
Brothers Anthony and Joe Russo directed Winter Soldier and have already signed a deal to head up the third installment in the Captain America series. Marvel and Disney are so high on the untitled threequel that they are sticking to a May 6, 2016, release date, even though that’s when Warner Bros. untitled Superman-Batman tentpole is slotted to open.
Box-office observers say Winter Soldier has several advantages over the first Captain America, which took in a solid $370.6 million worldwide. That film was a period piece, while the follow-up is set in the modern day.
No other movie dared to open opposite Winter Soldier in North America this weekend. Among holdovers, the big question will be how well Darren Aronofsky‘s biblical epic Noah holds up.
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