Trailer: Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Steve Rogers struggles to embrace his role in the modern world and battles a new threat from old history: the Soviet agent known as the Winter Soldier.PT2M30S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-35ni5 620 349 March 28, 2014
Captain America: The Winter Soldier conquered the North American box office in its debut weekend, becoming the top-earning movie so far this year, industry estimates showed on Sunday.
In the process, it also validated the strategy of the film's distributor, Walt Disney Co, to ramp up its pipeline of films featuring super heroes made famous by bashing bad guys in Marvel Comics.
Box office smash ... George St-Pierre, left, and Chris Evans in a scene from Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Photo: AP
The $US170 millionsuperhero saga, starring Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson, pulled in a hefty $US96.2 million ($104.49 million), box office tracker Exhibitor Relations said.
The 3D sequel to Captain America: The First Avenger out earned this year's previous box office winner The Lego Movie, which in February grossed $US69 million in its first weekend.
Biblical epic Noah, starring Australian Russell Crowe, meanwhile, was the box office runner up in its second weekend, with $US17 million in ticket sales. The action drama reunites Crowe with Jennifer Connelly, his co-star from 2001's A Beautiful Mind.
Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) joins the fight in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Photo: AP
In third place, with $US13 million, was teen adventure Divergent, the dystopian tale of a young woman in a futuristic society, based on the popular young adult novel of the same name.
Since Disney bought Marvel for $US4 billion in 2009, Marvel characters have starred in some of Hollywood's biggest hits. Iron Man 3 was last year's second-highest grossing film with domestic ticket sales of $409 million, according to the site Box Office Mojo.
In 2012, Marvel's The Avengers was the third-biggest film in Hollywood history, with $US623.4 million in domestic sales and $US1.5 billion worldwide.
Actor Chris Evans is Captain America/Steve Rogers.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is "a safe bet" to pass $250 million, said Box Office Mojo.
It took in another $9.6 million at IMAX screenings, for which moviegoers a premium. That also set a new April record.
"I would certainly expect we can broaden out" beyond the usual Marvel film buyers, said Dave Hollis, Walt Disney Studios' executive vice president of film distribution. Hollis noted that some 90 percent of critics gave positive notices as collated by the Rotten Tomatoes website and audiences rated the film an A.
Religiously themed God's Not Dead, which tells the story of a college freshman who debates his atheist philosophy professor, climbed one spot to fourth place with $US7.7 million.
In fifth was Wes Anderson's quirky The Grand Budapest Hotel, which earned $US6.30 million.
It was closely trailed by Muppets Most Wanted, Kermit and company's latest outing, which raked in $US6.29 million.
The musical comedy caper was ahead of Mr Peabody and Sherman, based on characters from the 1960s television cartoon Rocky and Bullwinkle, which earned $US5.3 million.
Car-chase action movie Need for Speed, which stayed in eighth place for a second consecutive week, taking in $US1.84 million.
Non-Stop, the Liam Neeson action movie set on a long-haul flight, added another $US1.83 million to its earnings to land in ninth.
Rounding out the top 10 with $US1.8 million was action flick Sabotage, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Australian Sam Worthington.
Marvelling at Disney's empire:
Disney takes advantage of each Marvel hit by spinning it through its sprawling network of theme parks, TV studio and consumer products units. The movies sell well on DVD, and Disney will generate hefty revenue from sales of Captain America T-shirts, lunch boxes and action figures.
The company is also making four original live-action TV series for Netflix that will begin streaming next year.
"When you put the name Marvel on a movie, we think that it gives us essentially a head start with the audience," Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger told analysts during a conference call in February.
AFP, with Reuters