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

Marvel's "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" opened strong on Friday. Here's what fans and investors need to know.

Apr 5, 2014 at 3:05PM

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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Steve Symington has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of Walt Disney. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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