With a Friday bow of $37 million, Disney-Marvel's "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" not only obliterated its competition, but April domestic daily records.
The sequel is set to also break the weekend record for the highest-grossing April Stateside opening with $95 to upwards of $100 million this weekend. This could put the superhero pic almost $14 million above the previous April record of $86.2 million set by Universal's "Fast Five" in 2011. "Fast Five" also held the April day record of $34 million.
"Winter Soldier," which earned a whopping $10.2 million from Thursday night shows, is also on track to top the original "Captain America," which launched to $65 million three years ago. "The First Avenger" ultimately earned almost $371 million worldwide (about $177 million Stateside).
At this rate, "Winter Soldier" could be the most successful Marvel film after the "Iron Man" franchise and "The Avengers." So far, every Marvel sequel has skyrocketed past its predecessor. "Iron Man 3" grossed 95% more than "Iron Man 2" and "Thor: The Dark World" made 40% more than the original.
Since the first "Captain America" movie, Marvel pics have benefited from "The Avengers" halo effect. The film, which opened to $207 million (the highest domestic opening of all time) and went on to earn $1.5 billion worldwide ($623 million Stateside), has elevated its predecessors, including "Iron Man 3."
"Winter Soldier" also looks to edge past Marvel's last release, "Thor: The Dark World," which grossed almost $86 million in its first weekend. "Dark World" made $645 million worldwide (more than $206 million Stateside).
Directed by brothers Anthony and Joe Russo, "Winter Soldier," which reportedly cost $170 million to produce, stars Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson and Samuel L. Jackson. The movie is playing in 3,938 U.S. locations and will be shown in 3D at most theaters.
The sequel grossed over $75 million in 32 markets last weekend and expanded to Russia, Australia and China this weekend. The film also bowed at 668 Imax screens globally, a day-and-date record for the company.
Holdovers rounded out Friday's top 10. After a strong start last weekend with $43.7 million Stateside, "Noah" came in second with $4.9 million. Paramount's Biblical epic will likely finish its second frame with almost $17 million, lifting its domestic cume to $72 million in 10 days.
"Divergent," which in a matter of two weeks passed the $100 million mark at the domestic box office on Friday, is third with $4.2 million (down 49%). Lionsgate's Shailene Woodley-starrer is on its way to a $13 million third weekend and $114 million-plus cume.
"God's Not Dead" expanded by 587 locations to 1,765 and is alive and well with $2.2 million Friday. Freestyle's religious drama should finish the weekend with $8 million and the frame with over $31 million.
One of this month's biggest box office success stories, Fox Searchlight's "The Grand Budapest Hotel" expanded to more than 1,250 locations -- Wes Anderson's second widest expansion after 2009's "Fantastic Mr. Fox." The dramedy earned $1.8 million Friday, on its way to a $6 million three-day total and $33 million overall haul.
Meanwhile, Disney's "Muppets Most Wanted" trailed behind with $1.5 million on Friday, en route to a $6.5 million weekend and $42 million cume.
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