Update Monday April 7: As expected after a strong Thursday Night opening, Captain America: The Winter Soldier did in fact post the largest April opening weekend of all time, pulling in an estimated $96.2 million at the box office, beating the record held by Fast Five by a full 10 million dollars. The film also already passed $207 million in overseas gross, which puts it ahead of the first Cap movie in international markets after just 10 days (just one weekend in several major markets) - the first earned a total of $194 in overseas markets during its entire run.
The film’s strong box office comes off a variety of factors, including The Avengers bump, positive reviews and strong word-of-mouth - something that should help it have staying power. The 48% jump over the first movie is the largest percentage increase for a post-Avengers solo film yet for Marvel Studios.
Between continued buzz, the tie-in with the ABC/Marvel television show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the fact that there is no major competition for the movie in the entire month of April (The Amazing Spider-Man 2 doesn’t hit until May 2, 2014, and is the next real challenge), The Winter Soldier should have no problem dominating the box office for the weeks to come.
Of course, in context of the Iron Man and Avengers film behemoths, it’s clear that Steve Rogers is still second fiddle to Tony Stark. Iron Man 3 had a $174 million opening weekend (albeit in the stronger/more traditional start to the blockbuster season of the first weekend of May), and Avengers leveraged the full team to the tune of $207 million. Cap did defeat the god of thunder, however, as Thor: The Dark World took in $85.7 million back in November.
Looking inside the numbers, perhaps the one thing that'll stand out for Marvel/Disney is China's opening weekend of $39.2m in China, 16% above Iron Man 3’s opening frame (according to the studio) and its best opening weekend there ever.
Given the exponential capacity for growth in what's already the world's second largest market after the U.S. - the country is estimated to have 18k screen and a population of 1.3 billion and reportedly building 10 to 13 new screen a day, compared to 44k screen in North America for an estimated population of 529m - you can see why Marvel now has plans through 2028 . Its not inconceivable by the time 2028 rolls around, Marvel films could be earning as much revenue in China than they will be in North America.
Original Story: Captain America: The Winter Soldier had what Variety calls a “Massive” opening night with $10.2 million from Thursday night/Midnight showings. Of course, put in context of movies like The Avengers, which had an $18.7 million opening midnight, or Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 which holds the record (and by quite a lot) with $43.5 million, it doesn’t seem quite as “massive.”
Still, it’s a great opening for the film, and positions it to easily have the biggest opening weekend of 2014 so far. The April record for an opening weekend is $86.2 million, held by Fast Five, and analysts say Winter Soldier should now have no trouble topping that, with some forecasts calling for nearly or even just over $100 million in this opening weekend. Captain America: The First Avenger opened to $65.058 million, the second lowest opening of any of the Marvel Studios films, but its sequel has the benefit of also being a sequel to The Avengers, which did over $1.5 billion in the worldwide box office.
The midnight opening did beat out recent tentpole films like Man of Steel, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, and Thor: The Dark World. The Dark World's $7.1 million midnight led to an $85.7 million opening weekend, and Man of Steel's July 2013 $9 million Thursday led to $116.6 million for the weekend. Captain America: The Winter Soldier should benefit from largely positive reviews, and is certified fresh on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.