News

‘Captain America’ sets box office record

BOX OFFICER RECORD-BREAKER:This image released by Marvel shows Chris Evans, left, and Scarlett Johansson in a scene from "Captain America: The Winter Soldier." Photo: Associated Press

By Ronald Grover and Chris Michaud

LOS ANGELES/NEW YORK (Reuters) – “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” the sequel to Marvel’s 2011 film about the red, white and blue superhero, smashed its way to $96.2 million in weekend ticket sales, setting a new record for an April release and speeding past last week’s winner, “Noah.”

In the process, it also validated the strategy of the film’s distributor, Walt Disney Co, to ramp up its pipeline of films featuring super heroes made famous by bashing bad guys in Marvel Comics.

“Captain America,” which stars Chris Evans as a scrawny World War Two reject given super powers from an experimental serum, easily exceeded the April take for the racing movie “Fast Five,” which collected $86.2 million in ticket sales in April 2011.

REVIEW: ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’

Since Disney bought Marvel for $4 billion in 2009, Marvel characters have starred in some of Hollywood’s biggest hits. “Iron Man 3” was last year’s second-highest grossing film with domestic ticket sales of $409 million, according to the site Box Office Mojo.

In 2012, “Marvel’s The Avengers” was the third-biggest film in Hollywood history, with $623.4 million in domestic sales and $1.5 billion worldwide.

“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is “a safe bet” to pass $250 million, said Box Office Mojo.

Disney takes advantage of each hit by spinning it through its sprawling network of theme parks, TV studio and consumer products units. The movies sell well on DVD, and Disney will generate hefty revenue from sales of “Captain America” t-shirts, lunch boxes and action figures.

The company is also making four original live-action TV series for Netflix that will begin streaming next year.

“When you put the name Marvel on a movie, we think that it gives us essentially a head start with the audience,” Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger told analysts during a conference call in February.

“Noah,” starring Russell Crowe as the biblical figure, was second with $17 million in ticket sales from Friday to Sunday.

The dystopian action film “Divergent” was third with $13 million, for a total of $114 million since its March 21 release in U.S. and Canadian theaters.

“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” also scored the biggest opening weekend of 2014, and took in another $9.6 million at IMAX screenings, for which moviegoers a premium. That also set a new April record.

“I would certainly expect we can broaden out” beyond the usual Marvel film buyers, said Dave Hollis, Walt Disney Studios’ executive vice president of film distribution. Hollis noted that some 90 percent of critics gave positive notices as collated by the Rotten Tomatoes website and audiences rated the film an A.

Fourth for the weekend, with sales of $7.7 million, was the independently released Christian drama “God’s Not Dead,” which continued its impressive run despite being panned by critics.

“The Grand Budapest Hotel” rounded out the top five, taking in $6.3 million. Starring Ralph Fiennes as a scheming concierge and directed by Wes Anderson, the film started slowly, playing in only four theaters on March 7 and has grown steadily. It is currently playing in 1,263 theaters.

Disney distributed “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” “Noah” was released by Paramount Pictures, a unit of Viacom.

Lionsgate distributed “Divergent.” “The Grand Budapest Hotel” was released by Fox Searchlight, a unit of Twenty-First Century Fox. “God’s Not Dead” was distributed by Freestyle Releasing.

(Reporting By Ronald Grover and Chris Michaud; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Paul Simao)

Recent Headlines

8 hours ago in Local

Illinois Woman Sentenced for Health Care Fraud

gavel2

Ann Marie Sheppard of O'Fallon was sentenced this past week. The first six months of her probation will be served in home confinement.

9 hours ago in Local

Bill Seeks to Ban Drones From Flying Near Prisons

FILE - This March 12, 2014 file photo shows a drone landing after flying over the scene of an explosion that leveled two apartment buildings in East Harlem in New York. Brian Wilson, the owner, says he uses the aerial drone to document buildings, weddings and news events. The Federal Aviation Administration bars commercial use of drones no matter how seemingly benign. Officials say rules to address the special safety challenges associated with unmanned aircraft need to be in place before they can share the sky with manned aircraft and final regulations could be years away. But tempting technology and an eager marketplace are outrunning the aviation agency's best intentions. Photographers, real estate agents, moviemakers, and others are hurrying to embrace the technology.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Tim Bivins, seeks to prevent drones from flying over prison yards and dropping packages containing drugs, pornography, razorblades and other contraband, which has happened in other states.

9 hours ago in Local

Officials Delay Decision on Delavan Armory

wtax 011015

Officials met Monday in Delavan and decided to delay a decision on the building's future until June, when they will have more information on various options.

9 hours ago in Local

Water Monitors to Test Quality of Bloomington Lakes

bloomington

Stations will be installed in creeks flowing into Lake Bloomington and Evergreen Lake this spring.

9 hours ago in Local

Voter Registration Deadline Ahead for March 15 Primary

I Voted Stickers

The Illinois primary election is March 15.