This weekend, Captain America: The First Avenger was on a quest to avenge the disappointing box office results of recent superhero movies like X-Men: First Class and Green Lantern, and according to weekend estimates, it looks like Cappy has succeeded! The patriotic Paramount/Marvel tentpole earned a strong $65.8 million this weekend, bettering the opening of Thor, which hammered out $65.7 million during its debut in May. (Let’s wait for final numbers on Monday before we declare this the best superhero opening of the summer.) Captain America wasn’t a weakling in the per theater average department, either, as it found a terrific $17,719 at each of its 3,715 locations. Only 40 percent of the opening figure came from 3D screens, though—yet another low number for the format.
Audiences, which were 64 percent male, liked the film quite a bit, issuing Captain a nice “A-” Cinemascore grade (comparatively, Thor and X-Men: First Class both earned a “B+”, while Green Lantern earned a “B”), and the positive reception should help the $140 million action film stick around at the box office. As Chris Evans recently suggested in EW’s Comic-Con suite, the fate of the Avengers franchise was sort of resting on Captain America‘s success this weekend, so those involved with the film must be breathing a huge sigh of relief today. Granted, the real test will be seeing how the film holds up in the weeks to come, but it’s certainly off to strong start. Gotta love capitalism!
In second, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows—Part 2 dropped by a gigantic 72 percent (a hefty drop was all-but guaranteed after last weekend’s record-breaking numbers), but it still pulled in a a strong $48.1 million, pushing its ten-day total to $274.2 million. The wizard flick is on track to surpass Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone‘s $317.6 million tally to become the highest grossing Potter film, even though it’s falling quite fast. Where’s Dumbledore to cast Aresto Momentum when you need him? Still, Warner Brothers isn’t sweating—the Potter finale has already conjured up $836.4 million around the world, and $1 billion is a sure thing.
Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake’s raunchy comedy Friends With Benefits debuted to a decent-though-underwhleming $18.5 million, good enough for a $6,323 per theater average. The $34 million Sony production couldn’t outdo the similarly-themed No Strings Attached, which scored a $19.7 million opening in January, and it finished well behind the opening numbers of recent R-rated comedies like Horrible Bosses, Bad Teacher, and Bridesmaids.
Fortunately for the studio, Friends with Benefits was relatively cheap to produce, and it should be able to find some legs at the box office, as this summer has been very kind to the comedy genre. The sexed-up laugher earned a solid “B+” grade from Cinemascore, with audiences under 18 giving the film an “A” and audiences over 50 giving it a “B-” (Wait, young people like sex more than old people? What?!). Exit polling revealed that the Friends With Benefits‘ audience was 62 percent female, while 56 percent was 25 or older.
In fourth place, Transformers: Dark of the Moon blasted up another $12 million, marking a 44 percent drop from last weekend. After four weeks, Michael Bay’s robot-alien blockbuster has grossed $325.8 million, and while it won’t outgross Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, which earned $402.1 million in 2009, it is still the top grossing film at the domestic box office this year, and it has been thriving overseas as well. All told, Dark of the Moon has amassed $882.4 million worldwide, and even if Shia Labeouf doesn’t return to the franchise, I sincerely doubt we’ve seen the last of the Transformers.
Horrible Bosses, now in its third weekend, came in fifth place. The dark comedy has been enjoying some great word-of-mouth with audiences, and despite competition from Friends With Benefits, Bosses only fell 34 percent to $11.7 million, which pushes the film’s total to $82.4 milion. At the same point in its run, Bad Teacher had earned $78.7 million, and Horrible Bosses looks like it will finish just ahead of the Cameron Diaz vehicle and break the $100 million plateau with ease.
1. Captain America: The First Avenger — $65.8 mil
2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 — $48.1 mil
3. Friends with Benefits — $18.5 mil
4. Transformers: Dark of the Moon — $12 mil
5. Horrible Bosses — $11.7 mil
6. Zookeeper — $8.7 mil
7. Cars 2 — $5.7 mil
8. Winnie the Pooh — $5.1 mil
9. Bad Teacher — $2.6 mil
10. Midnight in Paris — $1.9 mil
For more box office news, follow Grady on Twitter @BoxOfficeJunkie.