Captain America: The Winter Soldier was the big winner at the weekend box office as it kicked off the summer movie season a month early with an estimated $96.2 million, a new box office record for April.  Overseas the film, which opened in a number of markets last weekend, has already earned $207.1 million, which is more that the first Captain America movie made during its entire run outside of North America.  In fact, The Winter Soldier, which powered the total of the top 12 box office films to a massive 26.5% gain over the same weekend last year when the Evil Dead remake bowed to $25.7 million, should end up surpassing the entire total of Captain America: The First Avenger ($370.6 million) by this time next week. 
The Winter Soldier debuted with a bang on Friday earning $37 million, which was 14% more than Thor: The Dark World, and 44% more than Captain America: The First Avenger.  The Winter Soldier widened its lead through the rest of the weekend with its record setting $96.2 million April debut that was up 47% from The First Avenger’s $65 million bow, though it of course trails the first weekend totals of all three Iron Man films ($102 million, $128 million, and $175 million respectively) as well as The Avengers $207 million debut weekend record.  Still The Winter Soldier’s $96.2 million bow blew away the previous April mark of $86.1 set by Fast Five in 2011--and it should be noted that Fast Five opened on April 29, which is a long way from the first week of the month.  

The Cap sequel earned about 40% of its domestic total from 3-D screens, and the premium ticket prices (for 3-D and IMAX, which accounted for 10% of the total dollars from just 318 locations) made a significant contribution to the movie’s first weekend earnings.  At this point The Winter Soldier appears to be the one film released so far in 2014 that has a chance of catching and surpassing The LEGO Movie’s year-to-date leading total of $250.6 million.  A relatively weak slate of April action movie releases also bodes well for The Winter Soldier’s chances.
Opening weekend audiences for The Winter Soldier skewed male (65%), but were pretty well mixed across the age demographics with 43% under 25.  Audiences gave the film a solid "A" CinemaScore, which bodes well for the next few weeks as do the film’s solid notices--The Winter Soldier has a current Tomatometer reading of 89% positive, which is exceptionally high for a superhero film.  Don’t be surprised if The Winter Soldier goes on to clearly eclipse Thor: The Dark World and earn second place (behind IM3) in the post-Avengers Phase II.  The Winter Soldier’s Cold War thriller elements have the potential to broaden the already extensive audience for Marvel-based movies.

Weekend Box Office (Studio Estimates): April 4-6, 2014



Weekend Gross




Total Gross



Captain America: The Winter Soldier





















God's Not Dead







The Grand Budapest Hotel







Muppets Most Wanted







Mr. Peabody & Sherman














Need for Speed













As might be expected, Darren Aronofsky’s Noah took it on the chin as the Cap sequel dominated the cineplexes, dropping 61.1% in its second weekend in theaters as it earned an estimated $17 million, bringing its domestic earnings to $72.3 million.  The Biblical epic, which was produced for $125 million, has now earned $106.2 million overseas for a worldwide total of $178.5 million.
In its third weekend, the YA adventure Divergent dropped 49.3% as it earned $13 million and brought its domestic total to $114 million.  Divergent has just started to open overseas, and has yet to become a Hunger Games-scale success, though it is definitely not a failure like so many recent YA novel adaptations that have failed to stir Twilight or Hunger Games-like interest at the box office.
The Christian-themed God Is Not Dead continued its modestly successful run as it increased its number of theaters by a third and dropped just 12.2%, earning $7.7 million and bringing its total to $32.5 million.  The film’s $4,395 per-theater average was fourth best in the top ten, trailing just The Winter Soldier ($24.449), The Grand Budapest Hotel ($4,998), and Noah ($4,761).
Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel continues to chug along as it earned $6.3 million from 1,253 locations, bringing its domestic total to $33.4 million. 
While Disney scored big with the debut of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the Mouse House’s attempt to keep its Muppets franchise viable is in danger.  In its third weekend of release Muppets Most Wanted earned $6.2 million bringing its domestic total to $42.1 million.  The $50 million production will need to do much better overseas to make it to the black, and so far the results are not encouraging, but time will tell.
Dreamworks’ animated feature Mr. Peabody & Sherman brought its total past the $100 million mark, the fifth 2014 movie to pass that milestone so far this year.
There is no hope for the latest Arnold Schwarzenegger bomb, Sabotage, which dropped 63.8% from its pitiful debut as it earned just $1.9 million in its second weekend of wide release (2,486 theaters).  Can the "Terminator" survive in the age of superheroes?  Certainly Sabotage’s per-theater average of just $767 doesn’t provide much hope.
The highest per-venue average for the weekend went to Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin, a horror science fiction film, which has been described as an "art house version of Species," earned $35,000 each from four different locations.  Under the Skin stars Scarlett Johannson (Black Widow in The Winter Soldier) and has received lots of press in upscale newspapers and magazines.
Be sure to check back here next week to see if the animated sequel Rio 2, the "R" rated horror/suspense drama Oculus, or the NFL-themed Draft Day can dislodge The Winter Soldier from its currently lofty perch atop the box office.