NO WEAKLING: ‘Captain America’ $65.8M; But Is He Summer’s Biggest Superhero? Harry Potter #2, ‘Friends With Benefits’ #3

SUNDAY AM, 6TH UPDATE: Wait a minute — aren’t all the superheroes in San Diego at Comic-Con? With so much news from the Con coming hourly all weekend, it’s been tough to keep up with North American box office where yet another superhero pic unreeled this summer. Distributor Paramount had been expecting Marvel/Disney’s Captain America: The First Avenger to open with a $60+M weekend. But the studio on Sunday said the actual total is $65.8 million (even though rival studios put the total much less). Paramount’s figure would better this summer’s original superhero Thor’s $65.7M. But I believe we’ll have to wait until Monday’s actuals to decide who is the biggest superhero of the summer since Sunday’s number is just an estimate right now. As a Paramount exec replied to my questioning his number, “Harry Potter fell 16% last Sunday. We are estimating down 17%. Whether it ends up $65.8M or a little less, it crushed Green Lantern and X-Men: First Class” — both of which were this summer’s superhero movies but made and distributed by different studios (Warner Bros and Fox respectively). Saturday’s take for Captain America of $21.9M was -10% from Friday’s $25.7M North American grosses from 3,715 theaters including around 2,500 showing the movie in 3D. Friday’s take includes $4M midnights from 2,000 locations, better than Thor and Green Lantern as well as prequel/reboot X-Men: First Class. The movie earned an ‘A-’ CinemaScore. (Thor earned a B+). Exit polls showed 43% of the audience was under age 25 vs 57% over age 25 while 64% were male vs 36% female. (Thor was 62% male & 28% under 25.)

Some in Hollywood thought Warner Bros holdover Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 might beat Captain America. But when a pic has set nearly every record for its opening, it’s bound for a steep decline. The franchise finale made $48M this weekend for a big -72% falloff from a record opening and record midnights and record single day a week ago.

In third place with $18.5M is Sony/Screen Gems’ R-rated Friends With Benefits; Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake missed bettering that other recent rom-com No Strings Attached ($19.7M, and it was originally titled Friends With Benefits, too). Full analysis within the hour.

Here’s the Top 10:

1. Captain America 3D (Marvel/Disney/Paramount) NEW [3,715 Runs]
Friday $25.7M, Saturday $21.9M, Weekend $65.8M

The pic opened Comic-Con at a local theater on July 21st in advance of Friday’s release. Chris Evans even made a surprise appearance as USO girls gave out a Comic-Con exclusive poster. But at the Con this weekend, Marvel already has moved on to The Avengers where Captain America will mix it up with Iron Man, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, and other superheros in the publisher’s stable. But first there was the task of letting moviegoers meet  Captain America: The First Avenger. Even Hollywood, which loves to see its rivals fail, felt this pic would open respectably. Because Marvel has opened all its films respectably so far. (Not a Green Lantern brick among them… When is WB/DC gonna get its act together without relying on Chris Nolan? WatchmenJonah Hex… bombs away.) From the start, the studio gave a cool retro feel to this World War II actioner about Steve Rogers who transforms from a proverbial 90lb weakling into 6-pack-abs Evans who’s not only easy on the eyes but can act like more than just a pumped-up uber-soldier. “Captain America is the ultimate underdog story,” one of the execs involved told me about positioning. “A physically weak man, who has infinite courage and drive, is transformed into the world’s first avenger.” And there are Nazis to vanquish as well. Cooler still.

Websites that do geek (I don’t) claim Captain America is the more mainstream superhero to make a big screen debut this summer, compared with Thor and Green Lantern. But that duo had far less competition when they opened, and certainly nothing like the Harry Potter finale in theaters. Intro-ing any new superhero is a bitch, but Marvel bitchslaps the competition again and again by doing it deftly. As far back as last October, Captain America was revealed on the cover of EW last year. Chris Evans presented with Thor‘s Chris Hemsworth at last January’s Golden Globes. The Superbowl spot was Twitter’s most talked about movie ad from the game. There was the usual heavy rotation of TV ads for the network season finales and sports playoffs and music shows. To make inroads with flyover country, the campaign made a big deal of the CMA Music Festival which features 750K attendees; 30 country radio stations sponsored fly-ins to celebrate Captain America Night on June 10th. Also to that end, the campaign did military outreach: the film was screened first on 30 U.S. military bases. I always thought that Captain America would attract a lot of patriotic fever because of its “Heroes are made in America” tagline.

Paramount launched Captain America‘s 3D trailer with Transformers 3. Interestingly, I’ve been reporting for weeks on Paramount’s pushy ways with theater owners as it distributed both these tentpole summer pics. (See Paramount Making Too Many 3D Demands?) For instance, Paramount dictated to exhibitors it’d be a four-week minimum to play Transformers: Dark Of The Moon in their Digital theaters. This strategy succeeded in keeping Disney/Pixar’s Cars 2 and Warner Bros’ Harry Potter And The Deathly Hollows Part 2 out of 3D dates. “But then, miraculously on July 22nd, Paramount will open those screens up to get Captain America opened on as many 3D screens as they can,” a source predicted to me. But now I’m tipped by exhibitors that Paramount is splitting its 3D screens for Captain America with Transformers 3, giving all but the last show and one afternoon show to the robots. “I’ve never seen a studio do something like this to one of its tentpole pics on its opening weekend,” the exhibition exec told me. Then again, Paramount owns the Transformers franchise and is only distributing Captain America whose future franchise releases will soon move to Marvel’s new owner Disney. Follow the money, folks.

There’s always been a question mark whether Captain America would do well overseas because of its jingoistic title. That’s why, in just a few territories, it’s being renamed The First Avenger. Paramount says the $2.8M opening in Italy this weekend is double the debut of X-Men: First Class there and +16% over the first Iron Man.

2. Harry Potter/Deathly Hallows Pt 2 3D (Warner Bros) Week 2 NEW [4,375 Runs]
Friday $14.6M, Saturday $18.4M, Weekend $48M (-72%), Cume $274.1M

So what if it dropped -84% from Friday to Friday. It’s the last Harry Potter, folks. It’s making a fucking fortune and breaking a shitload of records. Its domestic haul after 10 days in release is already $274.1M. (Part 1‘s haul for the same period was only $219M.) ”We will now settle in and enjoy the lucrative summer playtime breaking HP box office records along the way,” a Warner Bros exec assures me. The entire Harry Potter franchise just passed $7B in worldwide grosses. Relax your crack, naysayers. This is box office magic.

3. Friends With Benefits (Screen Gems/Sony) NEW [2,926 Runs]
Friday $6.8M, Saturday $6.5M, Weekend $18.5M

Sony and New Line keep competing to see how many unnecessary rom-coms they can shove down our throats. This one earned a ‘B+’ CinemaScore. Polling showed that 62% of the opening audience was female vs 38% male, while 44% and 44% under age 25 vs 56% over age 25. ”Exits show very high definite recommend ratings and we expect the film to continue to play well in the weeks ahead,” a Sony exec said Sunday. But despite its interesting casting, Friends With Benefits is R-rated and self-conscious especially when it comes to its dialogue. Even the title is tired. Which is surprising considering director Will Gluck made the way less formulaic sleeper Easy A. Then again Screen Gems claims its budgetwas only $34 million. As usual with these kinds of pics, it was marketing to within an inch of its life. The trailers certainly did a better job than most at hinting this movie wasn’t just the usual coupling when, of course, it was. Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis went out of their way to hype the pic, appearing together as presenters at the Academy Awards, MTV Movie Awards, Spike Guy’s Choice Awards, the Espy’s, and so on. “These appearances collectively helped established them as the hot co-stars of the moment and the hot on-screen couple of the moment,” a Sony exec tells me. Barf. Of course, Justin also hosted the season finale of SNL in May, which posted the highest ratings that show has seen in years. (That episode was repeated last Saturday as well.)  Online, Screen Gems launched a Red Band clip last Friday that became one of the most watched videos on Youtube in the U.S. this week. Gluck also produced Friends with Benefits along with Martin Shafer, Liz Glotzer, Jerry Zucker, and Janet Zucker. The screenplay is by Keith Merryman & David A. Newman, along with Gluck. Story is by Harley Peyton and Keith Merryman & David A. Newman.

4. Transformers 3 3D (Paramount) Week 4 [3,375 Runs]
Friday $3.5M, Saturday $4.7M, Weekend $12M, Cume $325.7M
5. Horrible Bosses (New Line/Warner Bros) Week 3 [3,104 Runs]
Friday $3.6M, Saturday $4.5M, Weekend $11.7M, Cume $82.4M
6. Zookeeper (MGM/Sony) Week 3 [3,215 Runs]
Friday $2.7M, Saturday $3.4M, Weekend $8.7M, Cume $59.2M
7. Cars 2 3D (Disney) Week 5 [2,668 Runs]
Friday $1.7M, Saturday $2.8M, Weekend $5.7M, Cume $176.4M
8. Winnie The Pooh (Disney) Week 2 [2,405 Runs]
Friday $1.6M, Saturday $2.2M, Weekend $5.1M (-35%), Cume $17.5M
9. Bad Teacher (Sony) Week 5 [2,035 Runs]
Friday $825K, Saturday $1M, Weekend $2.6M, Cume $94.3M
10. Midnight In Paris (Sony Classics) Week 10 [621 Runs]
Friday $508K, Saturday $900K, Weekend $1.8M, Cume $48.8M

Comments (191)

  • Solid from beginning to end. Evans really stepped up to the plate on this one. Probably the best movie to come out of Marvel since…ever!

    Comment by Alboone — Friday July 22, 2011 @ 12:07pm PDT  
    • This was by far the worst movie I have seen all year!!! So boring…terrible ending. Wish I had passed. Nothing against Evans…too my history and not enough action.

      Comment by Monica — Friday July 22, 2011 @ 2:55pm PDT  
      • Yeah! Fuck history!

        All I wannna see is some tits and explosions!

        Comment by Studio Executive — Saturday July 23, 2011 @ 1:01am PDT  
      • You must not have seen Sucker Punch.

        Comment by Charl — Saturday July 23, 2011 @ 8:31am PDT  
        • agreed. Sucker Punch was the worst…wow..was it bad.

          Comment by xfiler — Saturday July 23, 2011 @ 3:53pm PDT  
        • Ahahaha +1

          Comment by score — Saturday July 23, 2011 @ 11:21pm PDT  
        • Sucker Punch was much better than green Lantern though…

          Comment by Jack — Wednesday July 27, 2011 @ 11:46pm PDT  
      • Worst movie? too much history? it was set in world war 2 and that is about it.

        And it was beyond awesome. So, I respectfully disagree with you Monica.

        Comment by The Ronin — Saturday July 23, 2011 @ 12:47pm PDT  
      • Clearly you don’t know him in the comics. The movie was spot on action wise. Cap has never been about the big action set pieces. Sorry you want him to be like other heroes.

        Comment by Robert — Saturday July 23, 2011 @ 1:26pm PDT  
      • To each their own…I’m glad Monica’s tastes are not in the majority.

        Comment by another Monica — Saturday July 23, 2011 @ 2:11pm PDT  
        • Again, it was a snorefest. My entire family of 6 did not enjoy it. And some of you are right…I DON’T know him in the comics…that’s not my thing, but that’s doesn’t mean I wouldn’t enjoy the movie. You can tell the history of Captain America without it being so damn boring!!! And I am NOT the only one that thinks so!!! :-)

          Didn’t know a damn thing about Thor…enjoyed the hell out of that.

          Comment by Monica — Saturday July 23, 2011 @ 11:33pm PDT  
          • “Damn”…”damn”…”hell”

            Ah, a wordsmith. Fluent in the English language, and not afraid to show it (much like the reviewer).

            Personally, I think the movie looks like it would be very enjoyable, on many levels. I wanted to see it Friday (opening) night, but was not able. I then wanted to see it at least on the second day it was showing, but still couldn’t. So, I plan/hope to see it this coming Friday, the second weekend it is showing. I hope it’s as good as it seems it should be. (Oh, I forgot — “crap”…”darn”…”heck”.)

            Comment by Douglas J. Bender — Sunday July 24, 2011 @ 6:45pm PDT  
      • I guess youll be waiting for sleepless in seattle part deux

        Comment by Sage — Sunday July 24, 2011 @ 12:01am PDT  
        • You see, that’s where you are mistaken. Sleepless in Seattle was GREAT because Tom Hanks was in it. Every Tom Hanks movie is great, because…. Tom Hanks is in it.

          Don’t you remember Joe vs. the Volcano?
          Or… Cast Away (oh, I’m sorry, we are supposed to like watching a MOVIE (sound and video) for 45 minutes with no talking)
          Or….. Dragnet

          I wonder if Rosey O’Donnell will fly Meg Ryan all over the world again, at the expense of the company they work for, to meet me?

          Or like in Philadelphia, where Tom Hanks lies to his bosses about working on the big account, and is working at nights, but is staying home because he’s ashamed of his hideous appearance because he had aids. But, lying pays, he wins the big law suit and we all have faith in the judicial system, because in the end (no pun intended), it’s Tom Hanks that won the money!

          Comment by Ben Decho — Sunday July 24, 2011 @ 1:17pm PDT  
          • Troll.

            Comment by JohnDoe — Sunday July 24, 2011 @ 6:42pm PDT  
          • what are you talking about? Who’s “Tom Hanks?”

            Comment by ? — Monday July 25, 2011 @ 9:23am PDT  
      • it was not the worst movie it was awesome just like all the marvel movies “Suckerpunch” was stupid and just “really bad and really weird” “Captain America” is a cool movie and stuck with the Comic Book’s Origin

        Comment by Dennis — Friday August 5, 2011 @ 5:27pm PDT  
    • just so it’s clear now: Marvel superheroes are still going strong. it’s DC heroes that are dead :)

      Comment by Banjo — Saturday July 23, 2011 @ 2:20am PDT  
    • Whenever I hear the name Captain America, I keep seeing the scene from Men in black Part 1, where Will Smith goes to the MIB written test and he kids around with his rod-up-his-ass neighbor.

      Comment by Logan — Sunday July 24, 2011 @ 5:13am PDT  
      • That doesn’t make sense at all.

        Comment by Justin P. — Sunday July 24, 2011 @ 9:37am PDT  
    • Not quite on par with IM1. Best since, tho. IMO. Marvel Studios is setting the standard on how to do comic movies. I like that Thor, IM, and Cap’n have roughly the same tone to them. They play together quite nicely. Problem with IM2 is that it went overboard. Should have been a different movie altogether.

      Superman, Batman, and Green Lantern don’t even feel like they’re in the same universe. But Nolan can’t do everything. Can he?

      Comment by just bob — Sunday July 24, 2011 @ 3:25pm PDT  
  • I’ve seen 3 different trailers and I still have no idea what it’s about. Pass. I have super hero overload. I’m done.

    Comment by Anonymous — Friday July 22, 2011 @ 12:39pm PDT  
    • Seriously? The trailers are quite easy to follow – a man who’s weak in body but strong in character gets picked to undergo a procedure to become the US Army’s “super soldier” – becomes the WWII-era superhero Captain America. There’s really not much to it.

      Comment by BK — Friday July 22, 2011 @ 1:18pm PDT  
      • Wait, don’t tell me, he’s supposed to defeat Hitler. I’m so sick of Hollywood’s fixation with Hitler and WWII it’s so overdone it’s becoming a cliche.

        Comment by sp — Friday July 22, 2011 @ 2:58pm PDT  
        • Actually he’s battling his nemesis, The Red Skull played brilliantly by Hugo Weaving.

          Comment by Andrew — Friday July 22, 2011 @ 3:31pm PDT  
        • You, sir, are an idiot.

          Comment by Scott — Friday July 22, 2011 @ 3:58pm PDT  
        • Uh? where did you get he defeats Hitler from?

          Hitler is not even in the movie, the movie is not really about World War 2, that is just the setting it takes place in. A weak but brave man becomes the apex of humanity and ends up fighting against a mysterious organization working for the Nazis.

          And it was really really fun, go check it out.

          Comment by The Ronin — Saturday July 23, 2011 @ 12:49pm PDT  
        • You do realize that Captain America’s story is 70 years old? That it was written back in the days where we actually feared Nazi invasions. He was the original anti-nazi hero.

          Comment by Robert — Saturday July 23, 2011 @ 1:27pm PDT  
          • Exactly. Jack Kirby and Joe Simon pretty much gave readers exactly what they wanted at the time, and taking Kirby’s Jewish heritage (not sure about Simon’s religion) into account, Captain America was an idealist archetype for good against evil of the period for many people not unlike the early Detective Comics heroes like Superman or Batman (and still today a lot of people confuse Captain America with being a DC comics superhero).

            Comment by CMG — Saturday July 23, 2011 @ 6:28pm PDT  
          • It was also written back in the days when having ‘America’ in a title would actually attracted people.

            Comment by Spencer — Sunday July 24, 2011 @ 4:28pm PDT  
        • You obviously did not see the movie!

          Comment by Nate Nelson — Saturday July 23, 2011 @ 1:29pm PDT  
    • Snark, snark. Snarkitty snark snark.

      Snark’em snark, snark?

      Comment by Mr. Snark — Saturday July 23, 2011 @ 12:57am PDT  
      • Agreed. Can’t stand it. Why even post here if that’s all you’re going to do.

        Comment by Veteran Assistant — Sunday July 24, 2011 @ 2:20am PDT  
    • Do yourself a favor and go see it. I was hoping it was going to be good but was really apprehensive. Glad I saw it. Realy good movie.

      Comment by Cal — Saturday July 23, 2011 @ 11:38am PDT  
    • I have to totally agree with the person who said that they were in superhero overload and that they didn’t see Captain America. How many comic superheroes can we make/remake? I totally was into the Spider-man Trilogy but since then Hollywood has milked this idea for all that it’s worth. Pretty soon they’ve got to run out of heroes. It’s not that I am totally against comic book heroes but once again Hollywood has failed to be original and is trying to repeat (and repeat and repeat) what has brought them $$$ The dollars are the bottom line here. Until Hollywood either runs out of comic book heroes or starts raking in less money for these movies people who would like to see movies that have different ideas and different twists are going to have to wait.

      Comment by Nathen — Sunday July 24, 2011 @ 3:02am PDT  
  • It deserves it – it’s a better movie than those other three combined. Definitely Marvel’s best movie since Iron Man.

    Comment by John Whorfin — Friday July 22, 2011 @ 12:59pm PDT  
  • Captain America already opened out? Didn’t even hear about it.

    Comment by sp — Friday July 22, 2011 @ 1:14pm PDT  
    • With those numbers, you must be the only one. This is going to be a hit, and I am very happy for everyone involved.

      Comment by 'Merica — Friday July 22, 2011 @ 2:56pm PDT  
      • This isn’t that great of an opening for a movie that has been hyped all year long. Fast 5 made more than most of the superhero stuff. The fantasy genre that sported such hits as POTC and Harry Potter is still where the money is at. The last Twilight film has the chance to be one of the biggest this year. Superhero films all cost in excess of a hundred million before you get to advertising. It doesn’t sound like that great of an investment for a studio. No wonder Hollywood is snapping up every YA fantasy that goes to print.

        Comment by Anon — Saturday July 23, 2011 @ 11:25am PDT  
        • Yeah, I don’t get it. I remember people being luke warm and slightly disappointed about Thor only making 65 million its opening weekend (I remember explanations such as “Thor is just a second tier superhero, so 65 million is what should be expected”). Yet Captain America makes 66 million and its spoken of like it’s a smash success? “The biggest super hero film of the summer!” Is one million dollars really that big of a difference?

          Not that either film is a failure. They’re not. But still, I do wonder how long Marvel can keep this up.

          Comment by Jcar — Saturday July 23, 2011 @ 4:04pm PDT  
          • I guess it’s just ‘reduced expectations’. See, my crap-box condo is no longer worth $600g but if i could get $400g I’d be thrilled. Altho, $350g is more likely.

            Comment by optimist prime — Sunday July 24, 2011 @ 1:47pm PDT  
        • UM. “Captain America” toppled “Harry Potter” – which had an 84% drop-off. And $66 million for an opening weekend makes it the third highest opening of the summer. And Hollywood is “snapping up” every superhero fantasy that’s in print – because they make tons of money.

          Just because you have some personal problem with super hero movies doesn’t ALTER FACTS, buddy.

          Comment by David — Saturday July 23, 2011 @ 4:38pm PDT  
          • OK. Just ask ‘Green Lantern’ and ‘Jonah Hex’ if they made tons of money. That new X-men didn’t exactly back up the truck either. FF2. Superman. Hulks. Scott Pilgrim. Judge Dredd.

            in fact, they cost a ton of money.

            Comment by optimist prime — Sunday July 24, 2011 @ 1:39am PDT  
          • The success of Sin City confused people if a graphic novel could be a moneymaker. People forget it had an all-star cast. Its successors pretty much had to have a certain formula of no story and a lot of action plus naked people, a la 300. V for Vendetta was popular to a degree because the Wachowskis did not have their names completely sullied at that point and had a basic premise of dystopia that was a perfect zeitgeist for many people debating the war on terror.

            Watchmen barely made money after its opening weekend and was too hard to follow or get for people who did not read the source material, and even fans who read it had a mixed response. The others like Scott Pilgrim were too niche to make money even if it got good word of mouth and critical response not to mention a very credible director.

            Then you have the regular adaptations, they make money but the studios aim for building a franchise. Green Lantern was a failure for the franchise potential (and considering DC also was riding on their animated series for GL to get a good jump start with the movies), even if The Fantastic Four had a sequel it was an incredible failure, Fox basically pulled the plug on more X-Men origins stand alone films, and Warner Bros. wants you to forget Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns.

            Comment by CMG — Sunday July 24, 2011 @ 2:50pm PDT  
        • Merchandising. Superhero films sell a lot of toys. It’s more than just the box office, of which 66 million is a great opening.

          Comment by dan — Sunday July 24, 2011 @ 10:23am PDT  
  • Looks great, can’t wait to see it this weekend.

    Comment by Winton — Friday July 22, 2011 @ 1:29pm PDT  
  • Saw it at a midnight showing last night here in New York – really great movie, much better than THOR (although I generally liked it, it didnt set my world on fire). Loved that they reached down into the story and really worked the story rather than just making it an action flick… Can’t tell you the last time I got so invested in a super hero movie. Great to look at, funny and Chris Evans really sells his “still skinny on the inside” awkwardness throughout the movie. A total win. I would actually see it again.

    As usual, stay til after the credits for some good stuff. :)

    Comment by Andrew — Friday July 22, 2011 @ 3:30pm PDT  
  • Captain America and its story is 70 years old and created to combat the Nazis. Sp, you’re an idiot.

    Comment by setzer — Friday July 22, 2011 @ 3:36pm PDT  
  • GO CAPTAIN AMERICA!

    Comment by wrtrprod7 — Friday July 22, 2011 @ 4:01pm PDT  
  • Reviews starting to come in from the general public say they are loving it. Must be something about the film that is good.

    Comment by moviergoer — Friday July 22, 2011 @ 4:07pm PDT  
  • great film

    Comment by carole — Friday July 22, 2011 @ 4:12pm PDT  
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