Box Office: ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ Starts Strong, on Pace for $94 Million

With Captain America 2, Disney Marvel is duking it out with Viacom and Lions Gate for box office supremacy.

"Captain America: The Winter Soldier" will likely set a new April debut record. Credit: Disney/Marvel

If its stellar Friday performance is any indication, a new April box office debut record should be in the bag for Disney (NYSE: DIS  ) Marvel's Captain America: The Winter SoldierIncluding $10.2 million from late-Thursday previews, the $170 million sequel collected a massive $37 million from domestic audiences in its first day.

This is the earliest calendar release Disney has employed for a Marvel film to date; last year's The Avengers, 2011's Thorand all three Iron Man films each arrived in early May. However, assuming Winter Soldier achieves the same average 2.55 Friday-weekend multiple as each of its May predecessors, that puts it on on pace for a first-weekend gross of approximately $94 million.

For reference, the previous April high mark of $86.2 million was set in 2011 by Universal Studios' Fast Five, which at the time absolutely shattered Fast and Furious' two-year-old record of $71 million. Zooming out a bit, this also means Captain America: The Winter Soldier should secure its spot as the third-largest Spring launch of all time, trailing only two March debuts -- $152.6 million from Lions Gate's (NYSE: LGF  ) The Hunger Games in 2012, and $116.1 million from Disney's Alice in Wonderland in 2010.

Finally, and though we're still waiting for revised worldwide figures to roll in, international movie-goers have added at least another $100 million to Winter Soldier's cume. Given its excellent "A" CinemaScore from polled audiences and assuming Cap can maintain momentum typical of his fellow Marvelites, I wouldn't be surprised to see Winter Soldier exceed the $700 million mark by the time it exits theaters a few months from now.

And in this corner...

We shouldn't forget Winter Soldier isn't alone. So how's everyone else faring?

Viacom (NASDAQ: VIA  ) Paramount's Noah plunged a harrowing 67.6% from last Friday to tack on another $4.9 million. That puts Noah on pace to add around $14 million to its U.S. total this weekend, bringing its domestic cume to right around $70 million. Then again, Noah's plunge shouldn't be all that surprising considering audiences have mostly panned the quasi-biblical epic, leaving little hope for Viacom to benefit from positive word of mouth. 

Keep in mind Noah already rolled out overseas last week, where it has tacked on approximately $51.1 million to bring its worldwide gross to $111.4 million. INoah can't find its sea legs in the U.S. going forward, it'll need to lean hard on international territories to recoup Viacom's lofty $125 million production budget.

Meanwhile, Lions Gate's Divergent fell a reasonable 48% week-over-week to add $4.2 million in its third Friday, which means it should arrive somewhere in the $13 million to $14 million range. With Divergent set to expand in earnest overseas this weekend and Lions Gate already planning at least two sequels, investors should be pleased the $85 million film has already racked up a global gross of $112.8 million.

If one thing is sure it's this weekend belongs to Captain America: The Winter SoldierNext weekend could prove interesting with a trio of promising newcomers arriving in Draft DayOculus, and Rio 2. Be sure to check back before then for our take on how each movie will fare.

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