'Captain Marvel's Box Office Numbers Shattered A Superhero Glass Ceiling

by Ani Bundel

Heading into the weekend, presales of tickets for Captain Marvel had box office watchers hopeful. After two months of doldrums and $25 million openings being the top end of the of the list, it looked like the drought could be over. The estimates for Captain Marvel placed the film north of the $100 million opening weekend line, though no one was sure how high it could go. It turns out the answer was higher, further, and faster. Captain Marvel's box office numbers smashed expectations this weekend, clocking in as the third highest March opening of all time.

According to Box Office Mojo, the current estimates for this weekend's domestic haul put the movie on, or about $153 million over three days (Friday to Sunday), with assumptions the final number tally will land a little further north of that, perhaps as high as $155 million. Either way, Captain Marvel made more in three days by itself than the combined total of any box office weekend in 2019 so far.

To put this in perspective with other March blockbusters, this puts it just a little higher than The Hunger Games ($152.5 million opening), and just below Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice ($166 million). The current record holder for March premieres is the 2017 live-action Beauty and the Beast ($174 million).

Judged against its Marvel Cinematic Universe brethren, Captain Marvel's numbers clocks in as the seventh biggest opening out of 21 releases since 2008. Captain Marvel's opening weekend is now the second highest for a character debut film in the franchise behind Black Panther ($202 million). Overall, it will sit comfortably behind Iron Man 3, which opened to $174 million, and can boast at having bested Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2, which opened at $146 million.

The top grossers on this list are naturally the crossover movies, with Avengers: Infinity War topping the list at $257 million followed by 2012's The Avengers at $207 million, and Avengers: Age of Ultron just behind Black Panther at $191 million.

Box Office Mojo notes the next few weeks at the box office will see Captain Marvel have the superhero lane to herself, with this coming weekend filled with programming aimed at teens and tweens, and the weekend after dominated by the horror film Us. This should let the movie run up the box office numbers nicely.

On average, the 20 previous releases in the MCU delivered a 2.76x multiplier, which would suggest Captain Marvel's run would finish around $422 million based on the film's domestic opening weekend. That said, should it manage to top Iron Man 3's $409 million domestic run it would rank as the fifth largest film in the MCU.

Landing in or around the $422 million mark would also put Captain Marvel ahead of Wonder Woman, which finished 2017 with a domestic haul of $412 million. Captain Marvel does have a $50 million head start on Wonder Woman's $103 million opening, but the latter had long legs that kept bringing audiences back and back all summer, while Captain Marvel has something of a hard stop on April 26, when Avengers: Endgame lands.

Hopefully, this opening will be enough that an announcement for Captain Marvel 2 won't be far behind.