‘Captain Marvel’ Has the Year’s Best Opening Weekend at the Box Office

If movie studios needed another reminder that audiences are craving for new kinds of superpowered heroes, they got it this weekend.

Disney’s “Captain Marvel” rode a wave of enthusiasm for more diverse superheroes, a hunger for blockbusters at a quiet time of year and a large helping of ’90s nostalgia to sell $153 million in tickets in U.S. theaters over the weekend.

It was easily the best stateside debut weekend of any movie this year as it breezily outperformed expectations and brought the domestic box office a much-needed boost.

The Brie Larson-led movie’s opening weekend was the seventh best of any in the 21-film Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise, behind the $174.1 million brought in by “Iron Man 3” and just ahead of “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” which made $146.5 million during its first weekend. (Topping that list: “Avengers: Infinity War,” which took in $257.7 million when it debuted.)

“Captain Marvel” is the first film in the franchise dedicated to the story of a female superhero. DC-Warner Bros. and their Gal Gadot-led “Wonder Woman” broke a comic book glass ceiling in 2017, but “Captain Marvel” had an even stronger opening, bringing in over $50 million more than “Wonder Woman,” which sold around $100.5 million in tickets during its opening weekend. While DC-Warner Bros. hired a single woman — Patty Jenkins — to direct “Wonder Woman,” Disney-Marvel’s movie split directing duties between Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, who wrote the script with Geneva Robertson-Dworet.

An origin story whose soundtrack trades in the likes of Salt-N-Pepa and Nirvana, “Captain Marvel” is set principally in 1990s California, where Larson’s hero crash-lands and eventually teams up with Nicholas Fury, a government agent familiar to Marvel fans and here played by a younger-looking, digitally rejuvenated Samuel L. Jackson. Ben Mendelsohn, Jude Law, Annette Bening and Lashana Lynch play other major roles.

[Read our critic’s review of “Captain Marvel.”]

“Captain Marvel” received fairly positive reviews — it currently holds an 80% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes — but its critical reception hasn’t been as strong as some other high-grossing Disney-Marvel entries (by comparison, “The Avengers” holds a 92% “fresh” rating; “Captain America: Civil War” holds 91%). Whether the critics’ responses affect the new movie’s staying power remains to be seen, but its strong start is good news for Disney. The studio is also using “Captain Marvel” to drive up interest in “Avengers: Endgame,” the next entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that’s slated for release next month. That film will count Brie Larson’s newly-minted character among its ensemble of heroes, alongside Chris Evans’s Captain America, Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man, Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk, Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther and others in what is essentially the popcorn movie equivalent of a musical supergroup.

Moviegoers who didn’t see “Captain Marvel” this weekend mostly picked between two other films. Universal’s “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World,” now in its third weekend, brought in about $14.7 million. And Lionsgate’s “A Madea Family Funeral,” the swan song of Tyler Perry’s long-running title character, sold $12.1 million in tickets according to Comscore, which compiles box office data. Other than “Captain Marvel,” there were no first-week movies in the top ten.

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