The changing of the seasons once again brings us around to the summer movie bonanza, with franchises as far as the eye can see. Starting off in pole position is a bit of a doozy, as the studios waste no time in giving people an extravaganza.
Weekend Forecast for May 6-8, 2016
By Reagen Sulewski
May 6, 2016
By now, most people have come around to the idea that when it comes to blockbusters, it’s Marvel’s world, and we’re just living in it. Captain America: Civil War takes what was once towards the lower end of the ambitious but triumphant MCU project and boosts it to co-leader alongside the Avengers films, taking one of the highest profile stories from the comics in recent years – in that it’s one of the things that people who don’t read comics might have heard about – and bringing it more or less intact to the big screen.
Following the run of incidents over the last eight or so years that have rocked the version of Earth in these movies, political agencies have started to attempt to rein in super-powered humans, creating a registry and/or benching powered people who won’t get with the program. This splits the Avengers in two, between those frightened of the potential of supers, and those championing the idea of freedom regardless of the consequences. In the comics world it was a (to simplify things) nuclear explosion that set off our plot, but here it’s the fallout from the Winter Soldier movie and the reveal of Hydra, along with Captain America’s continued defense of Bucky Barnes – his former comrade who was given super soldier formula and a brainwashed Hydra sleeper agent.
So we have one side, led by Captain America and Friends, and another, led by Iron Man and Friends, pitting themselves against each other in friend versus foe match-ups that are strangely evenly matched in skill and ability and hmmmmmm... (like, did they set out ground rules ahead of time? Weight classes like boxers or wrestlers?) There’s a feeling that this is really all just a backdrop for a bigger conflict, a la Batman v. Superman except, you know, good, but for now, taking the already-showing-signs-of-strain team and pitting it against itself makes for a fantastic “Who would win” scenario. To the mix of already known characters, we get two additions – Black Panther, and most notable, the return to the MCU fold of Spider-Man, the big missing piece of the puzzle, and worth the millions it took to get him back, if only for this film.
Although it says Captain America in the title, and although it’s been the Avengers films that have really drawn in the crowds, the presence of both Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr, plus everyone who is still alive out of all the Avengers films (minus Thor and Hulk), makes this effectively Avengers 2.5. Combine this with Winter Soldier’s “Superhero movie for actual grownups” stance, and we have all the makings of yet another significant leap in box office for this branch of the franchise.
The first Captain America opened to a now-amusing $65 million, with Winter Soldier grabbing $95 million in its debut. Similar to how the Iron Man movies have kept climbing, Captain America 3 should rival and even surpass the Avengers movies, particularly the second one, which came out a bit half-baked and without a solid reason for existing other than it being time. This film, on the other hand, has basically everything and is in line for a massive opening weekend, tracking at over $175 million. Once we get into this rarified air, things start to take on a life of their own, and we could see a runaway a la Jurassic World or Star Wars, and I look for a start of around $220 million.
As is tradition, we’re left with very little in the way of competition for this film from returners, and The Jungle Book, with its surprising legs, is basically it. Sitting at a tad shy of $265 million going into the weekend, it's part of giving Disney a lock on the 1-2 spot this frame. It may lose a little to the opening of Captain America, but should still hit $26 million.
Last weekend saw a couple of small films open, which may hang on for one more week in relevance, but it'll be a close thing. Key & Peele's Keanu opened to just under $10 million and should drop to about $5 million, as a comedy for a built-in fanbase. Garry Marshall's latest attempt to annex a holiday for his own dastardly purposes, Mother's Day, fell well short of his other previous efforts, opening to $8 million the weekend before its title arrives. While it may get a small boost this weekend, that probably keeps it at just $5 million, and likely saves us from having to endure Arbor Day, starring Zac Efron as a tree.