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Captain America sequel soars

By BEN LIVESEY AND DAN HART BLOOMBERG

This article was published April 11, 2014 at 2:13 a.m.

shailene-woodley-is-among-the-stars-of-divergent-the-movie-made-about-129-million-and-placed-third-at-last-weekends-box-office

Shailene Woodley is among the stars of Divergent. The movie made about $12.9 million and placed third at last weekend’s box office.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the superhero sequel to the 2011 movie, generated an estimated $95 million in its weekend debut for Walt Disney Co., a record for an April release.

The film, starring Chris Evans in the title role, left behind Noah, the epic film starring Russell Crowe, which took in $17 million in its second weekend in U.S. and Canadian theaters for Paramount Pictures, according to Rentrak Corp.

The Winter Soldier marks a rather early start to the summer film season, which traditionally starts in May and is when Hollywood studios release some of their biggest movies. Spreading out the premiere dates helps the industry avoid too many of its so-called tent pole pictures cannibalizing one another’s sales.

Opening sales of Captain America: The Winter Soldier beat the previous high for the month, $86.2 million, recorded by Fast Five in 2011, according to Rentrak. The $95 million in Winter Soldier receipts includes $10.2 million in April 3 showings, a portion of which were screened at midnight.

Overseas sales of The Winter Soldier have generated $107.1 million, according to Disney. The movie should have $248 million in receipts in its full run here and in Canada, according to BoxOffice.com, which two weeks ago increased its forecasts.

Winter Soldier picks up the story of Steve Rogers, played by Evans, the slight recruit who becomes a super soldier after volunteering for a top-secret project. In the sequel to the 2011 movie, set in World War II, Rogers finds himself in the Cold War era where he battles a new threat,a Soviet agent known as the Winter Soldier.

Scarlett Johansson is featured as Black Widow. Robert Redford and Samuel L. Jackson also star.

The movie’s predecessor, Captain America: The First Avenger, was released by Paramount and garnered $65.1 million in its opening weekend in July 2011, according to Box Office Mojo.

The success of Captain America: The Winter Soldier provides more evidence of the moneymaking power of Marvel studios, acquired by Disney for about $4 billion four years ago. Marvel’s The Avengers generated $1.52 billion in global ticket sales in 2012, making it the third-highest grossing movie of all time. Noah, which also features Anthony Hopkins, Jennifer Connelly and Ray Winstone, has won acclaim for its visual effects while receiving criticism for the artistic license taken with the biblical story.

Divergent, the returning movie from Lionsgate about teen warriors, collected $12.9 million to place third. The first installment in the studio’s latest young adult franchise has taken in $114 million in U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Rentrak.

God’s Not Dead, a religious movie from Pure Flex Entertainment, collected $7.7 million for fourth place. The film follows a student whose faith is challenged by his philosophy professor. Disney’s Muppets Most Wanted brought in $6 million for fifth place and The Grand Budapest Hotel collected $6 million to place sixth for Fox Searchlight.

Weekend revenue for the top 10 films rose 26 percent, to $157.4 million from the year-earlier period, Rentrak said. Domestic box-office sales year to date are $2.59 billion, up 7 percent from a year earlier.

MovieStyle, Pages 34 on 04/11/2014

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