Friday, April 4, 2014

Can the Captain break an April record?

Captain America: The Winter Soldier flies into 3,938 theatres today, by all indications readying itself for quite the stunt landing. This latest installment in the increasingly crowded Marvel cinematic universe has already broken the record for most advance tickets sold, according to Fandango. Overseas, the film has grossed more than $100 million.

Can Captain America break $100 million at the domestic box office this weekend? Between advance sales and positive reviews (87 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes) it’s certainly possible, although most pundits are predicting slightly lower returns, in the still-magnificent $80-$90 million range. The Winter Soldier has a few things going for it: The return of Avengers crossover characters Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) as well as an association with the familiar S.H.I.E.L.D. organization (itself the subject of a TV series – media hybridity at its best), and the introduction of a new hero, Falcon (Anthony Mackie). The WWII period setting that dominated much of the first film has been swapped in favor of a contemporary Washington, D.C., backdrop. An ultra-modern conflict involving wiretapping, national security, and that thin line between necessary protection and unlawful invasion of privacy also lends the movie a topical boost. Critics certainly like it. All in all, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is poised to set a new April record. (Fast Five currently holds the title of Strongest April Debut, having opened to $86.2 million in 2011.)

The much delayed Halle Berry vehicle, Frankie and Alice, also opens this weekend in limited release. The movie has been ready and yet collecting dust on the shelves since 2010, even though Berry won an award for her portrayal of a woman suffering from multiple-personality disorder that year. From distributor Freestyle Releasing, Frankie and Alice changed hands to current distributor Code Black, which is a division of Lionsgate.  Even given the draw of Berry’s name, it’s unlikely Frankie and Alice will earn more than $500,000.

Holdovers Noah and Divergent should round out the weekend’s top three just behind Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

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