Disney's latest hero, 'Captain America,' sets box office record

Sun Apr 6, 2014 9:11pm EDT
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By Ronald Grover and Chris Michaud

LOS ANGELES/NEW YORK (Reuters) - "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," the sequel to Marvel's 2011 film about the red, white and blue superhero, smashed its way to $96.2 million in weekend ticket sales, setting a new record for an April release and speeding past last week's winner, "Noah."

In the process, it also validated the strategy of the film's distributor, Walt Disney Co, to ramp up its pipeline of films featuring super heroes made famous by bashing bad guys in Marvel Comics.

"Captain America," which stars Chris Evans as a scrawny World War Two reject given super powers from an experimental serum, easily exceeded the April take for the racing movie "Fast Five," which collected $86.2 million in ticket sales in April 2011.

Since Disney bought Marvel for $4 billion in 2009, Marvel characters have starred in some of Hollywood's biggest hits. "Iron Man 3" was last year's second-highest grossing film with domestic ticket sales of $409 million, according to the site Box Office Mojo.

In 2012, "Marvel's The Avengers" was the third-biggest film in Hollywood history, with $623.4 million in domestic sales and $1.5 billion worldwide.

"Captain America: The Winter Soldier" is "a safe bet" to pass $250 million, said Box Office Mojo.

Disney takes advantage of each hit by spinning it through its sprawling network of theme parks, TV studio and consumer products units. The movies sell well on DVD, and Disney will generate hefty revenue from sales of "Captain America" t-shirts, lunch boxes and action figures.

The company is also making four original live-action TV series for Netflix that will begin streaming next year.   Continued...

Cast member Chris Evans waves at the premiere of "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" at El Capitan theatre in Hollywood, California March 13, 2014. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni