‘Captain America’ battles ‘Money Monster’ and ‘The Darkness’ for the win

‘Money Monster’
Jack O’Connell, left, as Kyle Budwell and George Clooney as Lee Gates in “Money Monster.”
(Atsushi Nishijima / Sony Pictures)

When Captain America and Iron Man fight it out, all others take a seat, as seen at this week’s box office as Walt Disney Co. and Marvel Studios’ “Captain America: Civil War” outperformed the two new releases, Sony Pictures’ “Money Monster” and “The Darkness” from Focus Features’ High Top Releasing unit.

In its second week, “Captain America” pulled in another estimated $72.6 million in the U.S. and Canada, meeting analyst expectations of $72 million to $80 million. That is a week-to-week drop of 59% from its record-setting debut of $179 million last week. Last year’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” experienced a similar drop from its debut gross.

But the latest Marvel adventure had a stronger hold on audiences than Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment’s March offering “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice,” which fell 69% in its second weekend. “Civil War” likely benefitted from the generally positive responses from moviegoers and largely stellar reviews.

The $250-million superhero mashup’s domestic gross to date is $295.9 million while, internationally, it has amassed $645 million. “Captain America: Civil War” is now the sixth highest-grossing superhero movie of all time -- behind only “The Avengers,” “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Iron Man 3,” “Dark Knight Rises” and “Dark Knight.” It’s the No. 2 film of the year globally -- behind Disney’s “Zootopia” -- and the No. 1 film of the year internationally, thus far.


Coming in second place, beating the new releases in its fifth week, was Disney’s “The Jungle Book.” The remix of the classic Rudyard Kipling tale added another $17.8 million for a total domestic gross to date of $311.8 million. The picture also continues to perform well internationally, with ticket sales surpassing the $500 million mark.

Sony’s “Money Monster” took home the third spot with a $15-million debut, well ahead of analysts’ and the studio’s $10-million expectations.

“It’s always a risk you take when you open any film in the wake of a huge film like ‘Captain America,’” said Rory Bruer, Sony’s distribution chief. “It’s not easy to open a movie in the wake of something so huge, [but] the best thing going for the film is the film itself.”

The R-rated, socially conscious thriller stars George Clooney as a charismatic financial TV personality who winds up in trouble when an angry investor takes the studio hostage. Julia Roberts also stars in it as Jodie Foster directs.


The $27-million film, which was released by Sony’s TriStar label, debuted at the Cannes Film Festival this week to an extended standing ovation for its stars and director. Audiences and critics outside of the prestigious film gathering, however, seem split.

According to polling firm CinemaScore, moviegoers graded the film positively with a B-plus. Responses from critics on the site Rotten Tomatoes, however, were more varied, with only 56% rating it favorably.

The picture’s performance, Bruer said, is indicative of the audience’s appetite for movies geared directly and exclusively to adults, especially during the summer months when the cineplex is often reserved for family-oriented and tent pole fare.

“Adult thrillers are not as easy to come up with the right formula, but you want a diverse slate of movies to be available to movie-going audiences,” he said. “Films of this ilk and genre ... are important to the health and future of our industry.”

“The Darkness,” from famed horror producer Jason Blum, landed in fourth with an estimated $5.8 million. Analysts projected what would normally be deemed a poor performance of less than $10 million, but Blum’s firm Blumhouse Productions said $4 million to $5 million would be a success.

Audiences and critics are not overwhelmingly pleased with the picture. Moviegoers gave it a C CinemaScore -- which is par for other low-budget horror flicks like the latest of the “Paranormal Activity” franchise which Blum also produces -- while the film has a 0% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The supernatural thriller starring Kevin Bacon only cost in the single-digit millions, but is part of an experiment by the firm’s releasing label BH Tilt to save marketing and distribution money by releasing movies in fewer theaters and specifically targeting horror genre fans through digital media.

“As BH Tilt continues to experiment with new ways to market and distribute genre movies, we are pleased that a digitally heavy, targeted campaign helped ‘The Darkness’ generate a solid opening in line with our goals,” said John Hegeman, who oversees the unit.


The company tried the strategy with last year’s cannibal movie “The Green Inferno” to middling results. That movie took in $3.5 million in its debut, and tapped out at $7.2 million.  

Pulling up the rear this week in fifth place was Open Road’s “Mother’s Day,” which pulled in another $3.3 million in its third week. The comedy starring Jennifer Aniston, Julia Roberts and Kate Hudson has grossed $28.8 million domestically to date.

Follow me on Twitter: @TrevellAnderson

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