iOS app Android app More

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
Scott Mendelson

GET UPDATES FROM Scott Mendelson

Weekend Box Office: Captain America Tops With $66m, Kunis/Timberlake's Friends With Benefits Nets Solid $18.5m, Harry Potter Tumbles Domestically But Dominates Worldwide

Posted: 07/24/11 03:42 PM ET

Captain America: The First Avenger (review) debuted at number one this weekend, earning a rock-solid $65.8 million.  The opening puts it just over Thor ($65.7 million) for the top superhero debut of the year.  The film scored an A- from Cinemascore and had an okay 2.55x weekend multiplier.  It played 64 percent male and 57 percent over-25 (I don't have 3D stats yet).  I had hopes for a higher opening weekend after the $4 million midnight debut (bigger than any non-sequel this year), but in the end it played like every other super hero film this year.  On a personal note, I'm a little disappointed that the film didn't play better to women, as Hayley Atwell's Peggy Carter ranks as one of the best female lead/love interest characters in comic book movie history (i.e. -- she's an authoritative ass-kicker whose general bad ass-ness is taken completely for granted and whose eventual romance with Steve Rogers actually has emotional weight).  Still, the large over-25 percentage implies that the film is playing well to older audiences who were drawn in more by the period and the older actors (Tommy Lee Jones, Stanley Tucci, etc) than the comic book genre or character popularity.  Still, those older audiences are being heavily targeted by Universal's campaign for Cowboys and Aliens (also based on a comic book, albeit a relatively cult one), which hopes to lasso non-geeks with the James Bond (Daniel Craig) teams with Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) gimmick.  

Barring unexpected collapse, it should go toe-to-toe with Thor, which just crossed $180 million this weekend.  Overseas numbers are a bigger question (the movie doesn't expand much internationally for a couple weeks), as Paramount is emphasizing the international nature of Captain America's 'Howling Commandos' as well as the fact that the primary threat isn't nation-specific (IE -- Red Skull is too crazy even for the Nazis!).  But for now, this is a dynamite debut for one of the summer's biggest question marks, fitting for a movie that turned out to be far better than most were expecting (and if you're that idiot who wants to assign the movie to a specific ideology, READ THIS first).

There are seven films in box office history that have opened with $120 million or more.  Yet this weekend, we had a film LOSE $120 million from weekend to weekend as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part II (review) dropped 72 percent from its record-breaking $169 million debut last weekend.  The series finale of the Harry Potter series still grossed $48 million, which is the biggest second weekend for the series that wasn't boosted by Thanksgiving weekend and the fourth-biggest second weekend of the eight-part series.  It now appears that the series finale is now basically acting like a normal Harry Potter film, with the 3D price-bump somewhat helping boost the weekend total.  

Everyone who was casually interested in the franchise went last weekend, and now the film is back to merely catering the more serious fans.  Not that this is a criticism in any way.  The film still has $274 million in 10 days, second in 10 day totals only to The Dark Knight ($317 million), and it's at $834 million worldwide in just under two weeks of release.  The Deathly Hallows part II will likely be the highest-grossing entry domestically in the next week or two, and now it's just a question whether the bleeding can stop enough for it to topple Transformers: Dark of the Moon (now at $325 million domestic and a record for the franchise $882 million worldwide) and/or top $400 million.  Worldwide, it's a question of how fast it can get to $1 billion.

The other big opener this weekend was Friends With Benefits, which rode a year-long wave of popular R-rated comedies to a solid $18.5 million debut.  The Justin Timberlake/Mila Kunis romantic comedy had an almost identical debut to No Strings Attached, the Natalie Portman/Ashton Kutcher vehicle with a relatively similar premise that opened with $19.6 million at the beginning of this year.  Like all of the popular R-rated comedies this summer, this one was budgeted reasonably, as the $35 million production should make its money back domestically in the next two weeks, leaving the always-uncertain international figures as merely gravy.  It's a lower debut than the other R-rated comedies this summer, but Timberlake and Kunis aren't proven openers quite yet, so the number is impressive.  Horrible Bosses and Bad Teacher are both holding up well, as the former dropped just 34 percent in weekend three for a new $82 million total and the latter is at $94 million and should cross $100 million in a week or two.

There's not much else to report, especially in terms of holdover news.  Winnie the Pooh dropped an okay 34 percent, for a second weekend total of $5.1 million and a 10 day cumulative of $17 million (Oh bother...).  Bridesmaids is at $163 million, inching closer to besting The Firm ($165 million) on the all-time R-rated grossers list.The Zookeeper has held on just a bit, dropping just 29 percent in weekend three and crossing the $60 million mark.  Cars 2 is at $176 million, dropping just 31 percent (I finally saw Cars 2... yes it's pretty lousy and quite boring, but it's no war crime and Pixar will be fine).  Midnight In Paris actually rose 1.2 percent this weekend, and its total now sits at $44 million.  $50 million is all-but-inevitable at this point (as is, deserving or not, a Best Picture nomination next season).  Tree of Life, which never made it to even 300 screens, crossed $11 million this weekend and will arguably try to reach $15 million before it becomes a cult-classic on Blu Ray and a genuine Oscar contender next year (well, it certainly deserves it more than Midnight In Paris).

That's it this weekend.  Join us next time when the last mega-movies of the summer close out July, as Cowboys & Aliens squares off against Crazy Stupid Love and The Smurfs.  It will also see the U.S. release of the cult sensation Attack of the Block, but I do not know how wide that one will be playing.  Don't expect any early reviews for this batch, as my mother-in-law and daughter want to see The Smurfs, my father-in-law wants to see Cowboys and Aliens, and  Crazy Stupid Love will probably be that Monday's 'Parent Movie Monday' showing at the Northridge Pacific, so I'll probably wait until the weekend to accommodate all interested parties (Ethan also thought Horrible Bosses was flat, not terribly funny, and lacking a forward narrative momentum).  Until then, take care and share your thoughts below.
 

Follow Scott Mendelson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ScottMendelson