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Box Office: ‘Captain America’ Racing to $100 Million in U.S. Debut

Disney-Marvel’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is marching toward a record for the top April debut with a U.S. opening that could reach $100 million this weekend.

Friday forecasts showed an opening-day launch in the $36 million-$39 million range, including $10.2 million from late Thursday shows — leading to projections of $95 million or more for the weekend.

Unlike with most movies, the Friday number is so elevated that the tentpole is likely to decline on Saturday by about 20% to around $29 million to $32 million. Sunday’s number will probably come in around $23 million-$25 million.

Should those projections hold, “Winter Soldier” will wind up topping the previous April record of $86.2 million, set by Universal’s “Fast Five” on the last weekend of the month three years ago.

“Winter Soldier,” starring Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson, is arriving at 3,938 U.S. locations following a massive promo campaign for the $170 million movie, which will be shown in 3D at most locations, as well as at 344 Imax sites.

The original pic, “Captain America: The First Avenger,” launched three years ago with a $65 million opening on its way to a $176 million domestic cume, along with another $194 million internationally. Since then, “The Avengers” elevated the Marvel brand with a stunning $1.5 billion worldwide, and Avengers stand-alone title “Thor: The Dark World” topped $640 million worldwide.

As a result, expectations are high for the sequel, which has already grossed $95 million in 32 markets outside the U.S. and is opening in Australia and Russia this weekend.

Paramount’s second weekend of “Noah” was leading the rest of the pack with a forecast of $5.8 million, off 62% from its opening day. The Biblical tale looks likely to wind up the weekend with a 55% decline to finish around $20 million, lifting the U.S. cume to $75 million in its first 10 days.

Lionsgate announced Friday that “Divergent” had crossed the $100 million domestic milestone in two weeks. The Shailene Woodley starrer is forecasted to take in about $3 million on Friday on its way to a weekend in the $9 million-$10 million range.

Two other titles in their third weekend — Disney’s “Muppets Most Wanted” and Freestyle’s “God’s Not Dead” — will battle for fourth place at about $6.5 million.

“Muppets” has been a mild disappointment for the Mouse House with a cume of $42 million, while “God’s Not Dead,” now expanded by 587 locations to 1,765, continues to show impressive holding power with a decline of only 26%. The religious drama should finish the frame with over $31 million.

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