It's time to gear up, Marvel fans, because this weekend Disney (NYSE:DIS) Marvel's Captain America: The Winter Soldier is finally rolling out to nearly 4,000 theaters in the U.S.
If Winter Soldier's impressive $10.2 million gross from late-night Thursday showings is any indication, the long-awaited sequel could be poised for the largest-ever April box office launch. For that, it'll need to beat the $86.2 million achieved this time three years ago by Fast Five.
However, it's hard to compare apples to apples because Fast Five began its first weekend with $3.7 million from Thursday midnight showings alone. This in mind, I still like Winter Soldier's chances considering Thor: The Dark World grossed "only" $7.1 million from late-Thursday showings last November en route to an impressive $85.7 million opening weekend. April is generally a slower month at the box office than November, but if Winter Soldier's Thursday success carries over to any meaningful extent, it could easily rack up between $90 million and $100 million in the U.S. over the next three days.
Combine that with the $95.4 million in sales already amassed by Winter Soldier over the past week from 32 smaller international territories, and it looks like Disney and Marvel already have yet another big hit on their hands. That's a great thing considering Disney spent an enormous $170 million to produce Winter Soldier, or a $30 million increase over its 2011 predecessor.
Nothing can stop Cap now
Moreover, as the only new film entering wide release this weekend, there's little standing in the way of Winter Soldier's immediate success.
Specifically, the box office's most recent blockbuster stands in the form of Viacom (NASDAQ:VIA) Paramount's $125 million biblical epic, Noah, which launched last weekend to a better-than-expected $44 million. Noah goes into this weekend with $104.1 million in worldwide sales already under its belt, roughly half of which has come from stateside audiences. All things considered, and with Captain America set to steal its thunder in the world's largest market this weekend, that leaves a long road for Noah to recoup Viacom's $125 million outlay.
Next, Lions Gate's (NYSE:LGF-A) Divergent is already entering its third weekend after grabbing just $26.5 million in week two. As of right now, Divergent's worldwide gross stands a touch above $107 million, of which $99.5 million came from from the U.S. so far.
Even still, keep in mind Lions Gate only spent $85 million to bring its latest dystopian future to life, and Divergent has yet to roll out in more than 20 international markets. Nonetheless, while that provides plenty of breathing room for Divergent to ultimately prove a financial success for Lions Gate, it shouldn't so much as put a dent in Winter Soldier's results.