By Anousha Sakoui
May 8, 2016 — 4:52 PM BSTUpdated on May 8, 2016 — 5:51 PM BST
Opening positions Disney for biggest year in studio profit
Film doesn't threaten records as some analysts expected
“Captain America: Civil War,” the latest box-office juggernaut from Walt Disney Co.’s Marvel studios, scored with film fans in U.S. and Canadian theaters, kicking off the summer film season.
The third “Captain America” feature, and the eighth Marvel movie from Disney since it acquired the filmmaker in 2009, collected $181.8 million in its debut in North American theaters, researcher ComScore Inc. said in an e-mailed statement Sunday. The movie came in below what turned out to be optimistic estimates for at least $185 million, and didn’t challenge the opening record for a superhero movie as some thought it might.
The opening positions Disney for its biggest year yet in box-office sales and studio profit, according to analysts. In a first, all of its five movie units, including Marvel, Pixar and Lucasfilm, will have new releases in a single year. “Captain America” doused concerns that fans might be tiring of the superhero genre, which will be part of Disney’s and other studios’ slates for years to come.
The film, which cost about $250 million to produce and tens of millions more to market, was estimated to open with domestic weekend sales of $214 million by analysts at BoxOfficePro.com. That was one of the higher forecasts. Box Office Guru analyst Gitesh Pandya predicted about $185 million, while Hollywood Stock Exchange was projecting $203 million.
“‘Civil War’ opened right where it should have,” Pandya said in an e-mail. “It’s not a full Avengers movie.”
The film had generated $291.2 million internationally prior to its U.S. debut and the simultaneous opening in China, soon to be the world’s largest movie market. Disney and Marvel already hold the opening record for a superhero genre: The $207.4 million brought in by “The Avengers” in 2012 was also the biggest debut for any Marvel picture.
In “Civil War,” the Avengers split over how to combat the world’s evils. Chris Evans reprises his role as Steve Rogers, Captain America’s alter-ego. After a series of Avengers incidents caused collateral damage, pressure mounts on the group to develop a system of accountability.
That divides the heroes into two camps -- one led by Rogers and others who want to defend humanity without government interference, and some behind Iron Man Tony Stark’s decision to back government oversight. Robert Downey Jr. returns as Stark. Scarlett Johansson, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman and Paul Rudd also co-star.
The film was the only new wide release of the weekend. Analysts are predicting that movies like “Civil War” will help push box-office sales to a new high this summer.