Box Office Report: Captain America: The First Avenger

In anticipation of Captain America:The First Avenger being released this Friday, we'll take a look at some hard facts and figures to determine what the important numbers are for the movie to be a success.

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By Mark Julian - 7/17/2011

There's been a lot of news about Captain America in the last few days. The critics although embargoed, have dropped hints that Captain America just may be the best CBM of the summer. But it's not the critics that are the deciding factor in whether a movie gets a sequel. Let's look at some key statistical data and figure out what the key numbers are in order to guarantee a financially successful movie.


Cap is set to open in an estimated 3,500 theaters, nation wide. To add some context to this number, here are some past opening theater counts:

-Captain America: 3,500*
-Harry Potter: 4,375
-Transformers: 4,088
-Green Lantern: 3,816
-X-Men First Class: 3,641
-Pirates of the Caribbean 4:4,155
-Thor: 3,955

So Cap is opening in smaller number of theater than all of those movies [*This is an estimate and my guess is that the final number will be slightly higher]. But don't be worried, movies that perform well are often opened in an "expanding" number of theaters.

Now let's look at these same movies and their [opening weekend domestic gross/movie budget].

-Harry Potter: $168/$250M*
-Transformers: $98M/$190M
-Green Lantern: $53M/$200M
-X-Men First Class: $55M/$160M
-Pirates of the Caribbean 4: $90/$250M
-Thor: $66M/$150M
-Captain America: ?/$140M

So HP7.2 made 67% of it's production budget back in the opening weekend, while Transformers made 52%, Green Lantern made 27%, X-Men made 34%, Pirates of the Caribbean made 36% and Thor made 44%. What's working in Cap's favor is that at $140M, it has the cheapest production cost. *Should be noted that the $250M production cost for HP7.2 was spread across both movies. Usually poor opening weekend numbers are a sign that the public did not buy into the marketing or that negative reviews kept people out of theater seats. How does everyone feel about Cap's marketing? Think it's captured the broader public's interest?

Lastly, lets look at some of the intangibles surrounding Cap's box office potential. The truth of the matter is that this is the 4th CBM to hit theaters this summer. Audiences at this point, "may" be feeling super hero fatigue which could hurt the weekend gross for the Sentinel of Liberty. The other disadvantage is that Harry Potter is likely to still be going strong this Friday and could steal some of Cap's numbers. The advantage Cap has is that it's a very recognizable property unlike say Green Lantern [not taking a shot, relax], which is largely unfamiliar to the general populace. Another advantage is that the only other movie opening that weekend is Friends With Benefits which looks terrible. Here's more from The Street on Cap's upcoming war with Harry Potter:




So rather than make a prediction here, I want to open up the floor to you guys. Based on all the data and the intangibles "what do you think Cap's opening weekend number will be?" And what's the magic box office revenue number in order for Cap to have a guaranteed sequel?



"Captain America: The First Avenger" will focus on the early days of the Marvel Universe when Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) volunteers to participate in an experimental program that turns him into the Super Soldier known as Captain America. As Captain America, Rogers joins forces with Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) and Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) to wage war on the evil HYDRA organization, led by the villainous Red Skull (Hugo Weaving).



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ThreeBigTacos - 7/17/2011, 5:45 PM
I hope Cap does extremely well even with Harry Potter... I know at my theater, Harry's sales are already starting to drop since everyone and their moms have already seen it. Another factor is multiple viewings. People, Harry Potter fanatics, will be watching it multiple times since it is the LAST Harry Potter.
Anthrax - 7/17/2011, 5:45 PM
by the time cap arrives itll be number one mark my words!
juggy4711 - 7/17/2011, 5:56 PM
My guess is @ 60 million opening weekend.
elwood23 - 7/17/2011, 5:57 PM
I don't see Captain America doing that well outside America
myHero - 7/17/2011, 5:58 PM
Bought my tickets for opening day weeks ago!! Can't wait. :)
Mechagino - 7/17/2011, 5:59 PM
Capt is going to be in the third spot.
@Anthrax: Yes, and then harry potter will bomb, and pigs will fly.
MarkJulian - 7/17/2011, 6:00 PM
@Mechagino Third Spot? Behind Potter and what?
MGS - 7/17/2011, 6:04 PM
Because of the lower numbers of theaters, the HP spillover, not as a widely known icon like a Batman, best estimate is around $50-60 million... a close second to HP on opening weekend. Not bad, but not a record breaker in anyway. If it gets positive reviews and good word of mouth, expect the total BO to top out at around $200 million domestic.
Jennn - 7/17/2011, 6:05 PM
Well, If Harry Potter has a 65-55% drop in box office next weekend (both of the last two HP films had 62% and 61% drops respectively) it'll still make between $59-75 million.

It's all up to Cap at this point. Good reviews will certainly help (and the positive buzz from the majority of press/military screenings is encouraging.)

If Cap can have an opening box office similar to Thor's then it has a good chance of being number 1. Here's hoping!
batmanrises - 7/17/2011, 6:07 PM
If it's good, I hope it does AT LEAST as well as Thor, which i think it will
Superman75 - 7/17/2011, 6:13 PM
The best guess would be between 50 to 70 million. It will probably be close to Thor's opening. This film i guarantee will not have a 100 million opening weekend. I wish it would,but im not stupid.
Gmoney84 - 7/17/2011, 6:13 PM
I think all the Comic-Con press this week will also help.
impenn8 - 7/17/2011, 6:14 PM
CA vs. Harry! kind of hoping CA will win, but idk, Harry might when :D
impenn8 - 7/17/2011, 6:15 PM
i ment to say win* lol
marz66 - 7/17/2011, 6:15 PM
i think it could gross between 65-70..at best. OR maybe 50-60mil on the worst.lol. I still think cap will still make money.
SHHH - 7/17/2011, 6:16 PM
This Movie Betta Blow My Balls off....
spiderken1 - 7/17/2011, 6:17 PM
My prediction will be even if Harry Potter takes a 50-60% drop in ticket sales, that will mean that next weekend that still puts it in the $75-$80 million range... I have doubts that Cap's numbers will be that high. Unless Cap gets INCREDIBLE reviews I will say $50-75 million for Cap while Potter will still be #1 making Cap one of the few Marvel films to debut at #2! I may be wrong I'd love for Cap to beat Potter but this really is a case of Davey vs Goliath!
MarkJulian - 7/17/2011, 6:19 PM
This movie should've came out 4th of July weekend or 2 weeks after Potter, not 1.
Mechagino - 7/17/2011, 6:19 PM
@GraphicCity: Transformers 3. TF3 has some staying power and I doubt it'll be able to be knocked out of it's spot by a newbie.
BIGBMH - 7/17/2011, 6:23 PM
I think it will out-do First Class because its trailer looks more exciting so it would have an easier time attracting average movie goers. HP's second weekend will likly hurt it, but I do think a lot of people, myself included, rushed to see HP this weekend. Of course there will be those who didn't get the chance this weekend, but hopefully it won't be a huge effect.
capreborn - 7/17/2011, 6:43 PM
I'm more worried about the foreign markets, how will Cap fair over seas.
kerry67 - 7/17/2011, 6:48 PM
At this point, I'm less interested in "who wins" than "can Cap make a profit during its theatrical run." The Harry Potter franchise is a Juggernaut due to its lasting presence in the cinema market. Too many moviegoers have too much invested in the characters not to see it. I also expect some "Lapsed" Potter fans who may have missed a couple of chapters in the middle to bone up on the story so far through Netflix and DVD/Bluray sales and rentals. Furthermore, there is a significant overlap in audiences between Harry Potter and Captain America, but I think more Cap fans will go see Potter than vice versa. What's important to the studio execs (and therefore, to us) is the final take on Cap. It doesn't matter if Harry Potter grosses $500 million and Cap only does $250 million (numbers just pulled out of my arse for comparison purposes). If Cap makes back its budget and clears a nifty profit, the execs will green-light a sequel. They like making money. Granted they REALLY like making an OBSCENE amount of money, but making a whole crapload of money wil work in a pinch. It's not just the box office champion that gets the sequels and merchandising, you know.
toad376 - 7/17/2011, 6:55 PM
I also hope Cap does well. But your wrong on your budget comparison for HP. HP:Deathly Hallows Budget is 250 million, meaning a shared budget for Pt 1 and 2 together, you split that up and it comes down to 125 Million per film, with a 168 million opening weekend it far exceeds it budget in 3 days. Cap will do well, but not to well, with HP racking up somewhere in the high 90's next week it will definitely take away from Cap.
BloodRed - 7/17/2011, 6:56 PM
I believe that CA:TFA will debut at number Two with appx $55 million. I've seen the entire movie and it's not a great film.

Sadly, Marvel has been phoning in these movies since Iron Man and coasting on the success of it. THAT was a GREAT film and none of them since have been GREAT. Good...but not great.

@ Graphic City - I believe that Marvel lost a perfect opportunity to release it on July 4th and play up the American aspects of the character and film in conjunction with our national holiday. Rather, it's because the film has shied away from it's true "proud to be American" roots, especially when Chris Evans downplays him calling him "Captain Good" (as just One example), essentially watering him down, and the film itself, as a whole.

The movie will debut decently but, won't have legs for the rest of summer.

dbapz - 7/17/2011, 6:56 PM
I have some high hopes for this movie. Please don't let me down Cap!
TayDee - 7/17/2011, 7:00 PM
This movie will easily make its budget back after merchandising, tax breaks, & dvd's!
Tymminator - 7/17/2011, 7:10 PM
Since we are throwing guesses out there, I'll throw mine... I will say Potter may still be number 1 next week, but Cap pulls 65-70 mil. Then hopefully the week after that Cap has <50% drop.
write33 - 7/17/2011, 7:22 PM
yeah my thought is that HP is a monster, and it drains audience away from Cap. :( but! Avengers is not dependent on Cap success, and Thor already was a solid hit so all is not doom and gloom for Marvel.
write33 - 7/17/2011, 7:25 PM
oh one thing, in the States we focus on domestic box office too often.....I'm guilty of that too.......but money is money, so worldwide is what counts. that's what makes Thor a hit rather than a mid-level, and I'm very curious if Marvel's global dominance continues. I vote Yes, and Marvel is riding well into next summer's Avengers..........but after that??? sequels away. and then Dr. Strange seems to be highest profile 'on deck'....maybe Ant Man too.......so good present, but cloudy future. (er, too much sounding like an 8 ball)
redkrypton - 7/17/2011, 7:28 PM
Regardless of how well it does, it will not go any higher than 2nd. I think that 2nd is pretty much assured given what other offerings are out there. The juggernaut that is the final HP movie will simply be too strong to defeat, but it is entirely possible that it will be close. I personally believe that CA:TFA will make around 50 mil the first week. Hopefully no more than a 40% drop. I will cheerfully eat my words if I am favorably wrong however.
redkrypton - 7/17/2011, 7:39 PM
Yeah, I don't really see a success story abroad, given the feelings around the world about the US. Then again, perhaps politics will be put aside given that it is a comic book film and it is set in WWII, when a lot of us were on the same side.
ShadowOfTheWeb - 7/17/2011, 7:49 PM
I think Cap has the potential to be the best CBM this year but I'm really worried that it will be badly disadvantaged by being released in the shadow of Harry Potter
sonofsamadams - 7/17/2011, 7:51 PM
This movie won't be # 1 this week. Sorry fanboys. Caps chances are slim. 50-60 million or less honorable opinion. It won't make 80-100 as some of you predict. Wishful thinking, but it won't happen. And put yourself in other countries' shoes. Would you really wanna see a movie titled 'Captain France'?
kalelhawj - 7/17/2011, 8:04 PM
@Justsomeawesomeguy you got a point there, but I think it will still do well in the US. Potter will take some of the Captain's glory away but that's the risk Marvel took by opening it a week after Potter.
InFamouslyCool - 7/17/2011, 8:07 PM
harry potter and friends with benefits, hm....
BooYah - 7/17/2011, 8:16 PM
I'm watching Cap opening day.
sonofsamadams - 7/17/2011, 8:39 PM
Oh Harry Potter will effect it's numbers.

Marvel made a stupid choice releasing it a week after the Boy who lived. They should have switched its release dates with Cowboys and Aliens. That would've made sense. By then Harry would've lost a little momentum but Cap would've had a much higher chance to make it to the # 1 spot.

...and I'm really starting to hate that word 'embargo'
sonofsamadams - 7/17/2011, 8:43 PM
There's three ways this movie can go-

Thor route: Have a huge opening weekend and stay on a steady but slowly decline for a few weeks before it dies out.

Iron Man route- have a huge opening weekend and continue cashing in till it makes 250+

or The Hulk (2003) route: Have a big opening weekend and tank after that.

It won't be Iron man, but I'll make the range between 130-180 in my opinion. That is, if the word of mouth is positive.
write33 - 7/17/2011, 9:40 PM
@EasterBunnyKiller
nope, didn't mean domestic doesn't matter...dollars are dollars........I meant that in casual conversations or even online articles, I get frustrated when a focus is on domestic performance and not cumulative for global, that's all. Even if the International net (not gross) is a small percentage ultimately, it still adds to the total pile.

and for fun, I did the math for "Thor."
it's International total of: $265,000,000
if you take 40% for Marvel, would be: $106,000,000

domestically it pulled in: $179,500,000
and if the percentage is higher, at 60% it's almost the same at the International, at: $107,700,000

very interesting stuff. I enjoy trying to have a relatistic reasoning for numbers...but screw it, I am a fan, and would love Cap to be a huge hit! ..here's hoping it survives the monster that is Harry Potter.
njferns - 7/17/2011, 10:39 PM
I dont think Friends With Benefits should've even been mentioned out here (it's like a re-hash of No Strings Attached)! Harry Potter will be THE one to beat for Cap!
And I know I'm straying off topic but I cant help but love that a Hindi movie has also been mentioned in the mix. :)
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