'Captain America' Tops 'Harry Potter,' Trails 'Iron Man': Box Office

Hayley Atwell, Peggy Cater, Captain America: The First Avenger
Captain America: The First Avenger with Hayley Atwell as Peggy Cater

July 25

Captain America: The First Avenger grossed $65.05 million – including about $4 million from midnight screenings – at the North American box office this past weekend (July 22-24), according to box office actuals found at Box Office Mojo. Distributor Paramount had overestimated Captain America's box office take by nearly $800,000, which led some to claim the Joe Johnston-directed Marvel comics adaptation starring Chris Evans was the biggest superhero movie of 2011. That's not so.

Actually, let me rephrase that. That's not so in terms of box office revenues, as the Kenneth Branagh-Chris Hemsworth film version of another Marvel character, Thor, took in $65.72 million when it opened in early May. But in terms of attendance, Captain America (40 percent of revenues from costlier 3D venues) was ahead of Thor (60 percent of revenues from costlier 3D venues) – in addition to both X-Men: First Class and Green Lantern.

Captain America: The First Avenger features Hayley Atwell, Tommy Lee Jones, Stanley Tucci, Hugo Weaving, Richard Armitage, Dominic Cooper, and Toby Jones.

Much has been said about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 plunging 72 percent on its second weekend out. Reports of Harry Potter's demise, however, have been grossly exaggerated – or rather, distorted.

Deathly Hallows: Part 2 boasted the biggest midnight opening ever by far, $43.5 million. Leave aside those midnight earnings, and the latest Harry Potter movie was down a hefty – though hardly horrific – 61 percent. In fact, that's not bad at all for a movie that earned more on one weekend than the vast majority of movies earn in their various lifetimes (theaters, television, DVDs, toys, hosiery, etc.).

A better example of a movie truly plummeting on its second weekend out would be the case of the Sarah Palin documentary The Undefeated. Despite the addition of four theaters – a 40 percent increase in venues – The Undefeated was down 62 percent, taking in a mere $24,664 at 14 locations. Now, that is a flop in every sense of the word. (And no, I'm not comparing Palins to Potters here; this is a case of a movie in limited release with no appeal even within its political niche.)

Directed by David Yates, the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 cast includes Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Jason Isaacs, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Gary Oldman, Tom Felton, Michael Gambon, John Hurt, Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane, Kelly Macdonald, Ciaran Hinds, David Thewlis, Timothy Spall, Miranda Richardson, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, Warwick Davis, and Miriam Margolyes.

Photo: Captain America: The First Avenger (Jay Maidment / Marvel / Paramount)

Mila Kunis, Justin Timberlake, Friends with Benefits
Mila Kunis, Justin Timberlake, Friends with Benefits

At no. 3, Will Gluck's R-rated comedy Friends with Benefits, pulled in $18.62 million at the North American box office this past weekend (July 22-24), according to box office actuals found at Box Office Mojo. Starring Justin Timberlake and Black Swan's Mila Kunis, Friends with Benefits opened slightly behind the similarly themed January release No Strings Attached. A vehicle for Kunis' Black Swan co-star Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher, No Strings Attached collected $19.65 million. Friends with Benefits was also behind Justin Timberlake's other 2011 R-rated comedy, Bad Teacher.

Starring Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (replacing Megan Fox), and Josh Duhamel, Michael Bay's Transformers: Dark of the Moon brought in $12.05 million at no. 4. It was followed by Horrible Bosses, with $11.88 million at no. 5. The R-rated comedy, which was ahead of Transformers 3 for several days last week, stars Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, Colin Farrell, and Kevin Spacey. Horrible Bosses ($82.56 million cume) has holding up better than Bad Teacher ($94.36 million cume), and should surpass it within two to three weeks.

At no. 6, Kevin James' Zookeeper added $8.7 million. Next in line were John Lasseter's Pixar/Disney release Cars 2 with $5.65 million at no. 7 and Disney's Winnie the Pooh with $5.16 million at no. 8.

Rounding out the top twelve were Cameron Diaz-Justin Timberlake-Jason Segel's Bad Teacher with $2.61 million, Woody Allen-Owen Wilson's Midnight in Paris with $1.8 million, Paul Feig-Kristen Wiig's Bridesmaids with $1.32 million, Tom Hanks-Julia Roberts' Larry Crowne with $1.01 million.

Gone from the top twelve were J.J. Abrams' Super 8 and Selena Gomez's Monte Carlo.

Among the top-twelve movies on the North American chart, Captain America: The First Avenger scored the highest per-theater average, a 3D-assisted $17,512. Larry Crowne had the lowest, $985.

Also among the top twelve (barring newcomers Captain America: The First Avenger and Friends with Benefits), Midnight in Paris posted the smallest weekend-to-weekend drop-off rate, a minuscule down 4 percent. Following the loss of 1,250 locations, Larry Crowne posted the steepest attendance drop, down 62 percent; next was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2's down 61 percent (-72 percent if one includes Thursday midnight screenings).

Photo: Friends with Benefits (Glen Wilson / Sony Pictures).

July 24

Chris Evans, Captain America: The First Avenger
Chris Evans, Captain America: The First Avenger

Below are comparisons between Captain America: The First Avenger and first-timer (non-sequel) superheroes of years past, none of which had the advantage of revenue-boosting 3D surcharges. Note that Captain America brought in less opening-weekend revenue (an estimated $65.8 million) than Spider-Man, X-Men, and Iron Man. Adjusted for inflation, it was behind Fantastic Four as well. And if 3D surcharges are factored in, Captain America attracted fewer moviegoers than The Incredible Hulk, Superman Returns, and Batman Begins. Having said that, bear in mind that a weaker opening weekend doesn't necessarily mean weaker overall revenues, as exemplified by Batman Begins.

  • Louis Leterrier-Edward Norton's The Incredible Hulk opened with $55.41 million (approx. $60.61 million today) at 3,505 theaters in June 2008. It went on to gross $134 million domestically, $263 million worldwide.
  • Jon Favreau-Robert Downey Jr's Iron Man debuted with $98.61 million (approx. $107.87 million today) at 4,105 theaters in early May 2008. It went on to gross $318 million domestically, $585 million worldwide.
  • Bryan Singer-Brandon Routh's Superman Returns took in $52.53 million (approx. $63 million today) at 4,065 theaters in late June 2006. It went on to gross $200 million domestically, $398 million worldwide.
  • Tim Story- Ioan Gruffudd-Jessica Alba's Fantastic Four, which also starred Captain America's Chris Evans, opened with $56 million (approx. $68.65 million today) at 3,602 theaters in July 2005. It went on to gross $154 million domestically, $330 million worldwide.
  • Christopher Nolan-Christian Bale's Batman Begins opened with $48.74 million (approx. $60 million today) at 3,858 theaters in mid-June 2005. It went on to gross $205.3 million domestically, $372.7 million worldwide.
  • Sam Raimi-Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man opened with $114.84 million (approx. $155.26 million today) at 3,615 theaters in early May 2002. It went on to gross $403 million domestically, $821 million worldwide.
  • Back in 2000, Bryan Singer-Hugh Jackman-Patrick Stewart's X-Men collected $54.47 million (approx. $79.41 million today) at 3,025 theaters. X-Men went on to gross $157 million domestically, $296 million worldwide.

Captain America cost a reported $140 million. For comparison's sake: Green Lantern cost $200m, Thor $150m, X-Men: First Class $160m, Superman Returns $270m, Batman Begins $150 million.

Directed by Joe Johston and starring Chris Evans, Captain America: The First Avenger also features Hayley Atwell, Tommy Lee Jones, Stanley Tucci, Hugo Weaving, Richard Armitage, Dominic Cooper, and Toby Jones.

Photo: Captain America: The First Avenger (Jay Maidment / Marvel / Paramount)

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Captain America: The First Avenger Chris Evans Captain America shield
Chris Evans, Captain America: The First Avenger

Directed by Joe Johnston, and starring Chris Evans in the title role, Captain America: The First Avenger grossed $65.82 million at 3,715 locations – including approximately $4 million from midnight screenings – at the North American box office this weekend (July 22-24), according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo. Approximately 40 percent of Captain America's box office take came from 3D venues. Those 3D surcharges helped to boost the Marvel adventure's per-theater average to a respectable $17,719.

Even while excluding its Thursday midnight screenings, Captain America was only less than 1 percent up on Saturday. Yet, Paramount predicted a quite modest 17 percent drop on Sunday. If the studio's “positive expectation” turns out to be correct, Captain America will have barely beaten Thor's $65.72 million to become 2011's biggest superhero at the North American box office. Else, Thor, directed by Kenneth Branagh and starring Chris Hemsworth, will remain no. 1. (Note that both superheroes will be featured in next year's The Avengers.)

For comparison's sake: Matthew Vaughn-James McAvoy-Michael Fassbender-Jennifer Lawrence's X-Men: First Class opened with $55.1 million in early June, while Martin Campbell-Ryan Reynolds' Green Lantern collected $53.17 million upon its mid-June debut.

Internationally, Captain America added $2.8 million from one single territory, Italy – quite a bit below Thor's $4.19 million opening. A few more comparisons with recent 2011 debuts: John Lasseter's Cars 2, which is partly set in Italy, opened in that country with $3.87m; Rob Marshall-Johnny Depp's Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides with $7.52m; Michael Bay-Shia LaBeouf's Transformers: Dark of the Moon with $3.49m; and X-Men: First Class with $1.4 million.

Also in the Captain America: The First Avenger cast: Hayley Atwell, Tommy Lee Jones, Stanley Tucci, Hugo Weaving, Richard Armitage, Dominic Cooper, and Toby Jones.

Photo: Captain America: The First Avenger (Jay Maidment / Marvel / Paramount)

July 23

Chris Evans hot shirtless, Captain America: The First Avenger
Chris Evans shirtless in Captain America: The First Avenger

Directed by Joe Johnston, and starring Chris Evans in the title role, Captain America: The First Avenger grossed $25.75 million – including approximately $4 million from midnight screenings – at the North American box office on Friday, July 22, according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo. Approximately 40 percent of Captain America's box office take came from 3D movie houses.

For comparison's sake among 2011's other movie superheroes: Kenneth Branagh-Chris Hemsworth's Thor's opened with $25.5 million, Matthew Vaughn-James McAvoy-Michael Fassbender-Jennifer Lawrence's X-Men: First Class with $21.39 million, and Martin Campbell-Ryan Reynolds' Green Lantern with $21.38 million. Of those, only X-Men: First Class was not released in 3D. Captain America may thus become 2011's biggest superhero at the domestic box office.

Also in the Captain America: The First Avenger cast: Hayley Atwell, Tommy Lee Jones, Stanley Tucci, Hugo Weaving, Richard Armitage, Dominic Cooper, and Toby Jones.

Earlier this week, many were wondering if Captain America would be able to beat Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 at the North American box office this weekend. I'm assuming no one was considering a Copper-Canyonesque 84 percent drop for Deathly Hallows: Part 2, which earned an estimated $14.63 million on Friday. Even discounting the $43.5 million the latest Harry Potter movie earned at Thursday midnight screenings, it was down a whopping 69 percent compared to the previous Friday.

That means Deathly Hallows: Part 2 will likely have to wait until Wednesday or Thursday – perhaps even Friday – next week to pass the $300 million milestone in the U.S. and Canada. A little delay, but obviously nothing to be sniffed at.

Directed by David Yates, the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 cast includes Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Jason Isaacs, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Gary Oldman, Tom Felton, Michael Gambon, John Hurt, Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane, Kelly Macdonald, Ciaran Hinds, David Thewlis, Timothy Spall, Miranda Richardson, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, Warwick Davis, and Miriam Margolyes.

At no. 3, 2011's latest R-rated comedy, Will Gluck's Friends with Benefits, pulled in $6.8 million. Starring Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis, Friends with Benefits opened slightly behind the $7.3 million earned by the similarly themed No Strings Attached. A January release, No Strings Attached starred Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher.

Starring Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, Colin Farrell, and Kevin Spacey, Horrible Bosses brought in $3.68 million at no. 4. The R-rated comedy remained slightly ahead of Michael Bay's Transformers: Dark of the Moon, which collected $3.51 million at no. 5. Horrible Bosses and Transformers 3 may end up switching places before the weekend is over.

Starring Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (replacing Megan Fox), and Josh Duhamel, Transformers 3 is currently the biggest 2011 domestic release. Within ten-to-fifteen days or so, that will change as Deathly Hallows: Part 2 will surely become the year's biggest domestic blockbuster.

At no. 6, Kevin James' Zookeeper added $2.85 million. Next in line were John Lasseter's Pixar/Disney release Cars 2 with $1.7 million at no. 7 and Disney's Winnie the Pooh with $1.6 million at no. 8.

Rounding out the top twelve were Cameron Diaz-Justin Timberlake-Jason Segel's Bad Teacher with $825,000, Woody Allen-Owen Wilson's Midnight in Paris with $525,000, Paul Feig-Kristen Wiig's Bridesmaids with $411,000, Tom Hanks-Julia Roberts' Larry Crowne with $326,000.

Gone from the top twelve were J.J. Abrams' Super 8 and Selena Gomez's Monte Carlo.

Among the top-twelve movies on the North American chart, Captain America: The First Avenger scored the highest per-theater average, a 3D-assisted $6,931. Larry Crowne had the lowest, $315.

Also among the top twelve (barring newcomers Captain America: The First Avenger and Friends with Benefits), Midnight in Paris posted the biggest Thursday-to-Friday attendance increase, up 59 percent. Following the loss of 1,250 locations, Larry Crowne was the only movie to be down, down 18 percent.

Photo: Paramount / Marvel

July 23 early morning

Chris Evans, Captain America: The First Avenger
Chris Evans, Captain America: The First Avenger

Captain America: The First Avenger grossed an estimated $26 million – including approximately $4 million from midnight screenings – in North America on Friday, July 22, according to early, rough, unofficial estimates found at Deadline.com. Directed by Joe Johnston, and starring Chris Evans in the title role, Captain America is expected to earn about $66 million by Sunday evening.

If so, Captain America will perform slightly better than Kenneth Branagh-Chris Hemsworth's Thor's $65.7 million opening weekend. And that means Captain America will become the biggest superhero hit of 2011. Now, considering that Thor broke no records, while both James McAvoy-Michael Fassbender's X-Men: First Class and Ryan Reynolds' Green Lantern underperformed, to become “the biggest superhero hit of 2011” doesn't really mean all that much.

Captain America should easily top the North American box office, thus dethroning Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 after a single weekend at the top. Who would have guessed? Well, anyone who figured that Deathly Hallows: Part 2 would lose a staggering 80 percent of its business on weekend no. 2 – in case Deadline's estimates are indeed correct. As per Deadline, the latest (and last) Harry Potter took in an estimated $16 million on Friday, and is expected to reach $50m+ over the weekend. (In all fairness, without last week's $43.5 million from midnight screenings, Deathly Hallows: Part 2 would actually be down about 55 percent.)

Also in the Captain America: The First Avenger cast: Hayley Atwell, Tommy Lee Jones, Stanley Tucci, Hugo Weaving, Richard Armitage, Dominic Cooper, and Toby Jones.

Directed by David Yates, the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 cast includes Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Jason Isaacs, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Gary Oldman, Tom Felton, Michael Gambon, John Hurt, Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane, Kelly Macdonald, Ciaran Hinds, David Thewlis, Timothy Spall, Miranda Richardson, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, Warwick Davis, and Miriam Margolyes.

At no. 3, 2011's latest R-rated comedy, Will Gluck's Friends with Benefits, pulled in about $7 million on Friday, and should reach $20 million for the weekend. Friends with Benefits stars Justin Timberlake – he of the R-rated comedy Bad Teacher – and Mila Kunis – she of the R-rated drama Black Swan.

Just recently, both Timberlake and Kunis received a much-publicized invitation to a military ball somewhere in the American South. No doubt the timing of the invitation – or perhaps of the publicity surrounding it – was merely a patriotic coincidence.

And remember, those are early, rough, box office estimates. Official studio estimates for Friday will be released on Saturday morning. Weekend estimates will be available on Sunday morning. And weekend box office actuals will be released on Monday.

Photo: Paramount / Marvel

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4 Comments to 'Captain America' Tops 'Harry Potter,' Trails 'Iron Man': Box Office

  1. ikioko

    I wish I'd seen Captain America topping Harry Potter.

  2. zac

    @AreUJoking

    >>>>>>>Harry Potter made 92.1 million just on midnight screenings and close to 500 million in the first 2 days,even if Captain America makes more this weekend than HP(which i doubt) by no means will HP 7.2 be “dethroned” by Capt America

    As clearly stated above, the text refers to North American estimated grosses. You're quoting worldwide figures.

    Also, “Captain America” easily dethroned “Harry Potter” at the North American box office this weekend. Though, of course, barring a miracle “Harry Potter” will remain way ahead of “Captain America” in terms of cumulative grosses.

  3. AreUJoking

    “Captain America: The First Avenger grossed an estimated $26 million — including approximately $4 million from midnight screenings ”

    Harry Potter made 92.1 million just on midnight screenings and close to 500 million in the first 2 days,even if Captain America makes more this weekend than HP(which i doubt) by no means will HP 7.2 be “dethroned” by Capt America

  4. Big T

    It just amazes me that the media finds it hard to believe that Captain America would dethrone Harry Potter. While HP 7.2 was an amazing film, there rarely is a moment in which a blockbuster reigns two weekends in a row while another blockbuster is released. I really do question the media's intelligence on this. I expect that Harry Potter will even be in third place this weekend behind Captain America and Friends With Benefits. Hopefully not though.