Noah Movie Darren Aronofsky

Controversy, solid int'l bows could strengthen domestic prospects

The day of reckoning is nigh for Paramount’s Biblical tentpole “Noah,” which looks to ride a wave of recent controversy and solid overseas grosses into Stateside plexes, projected to open at around $40 million in three days.

Internationally, though, Disney will steal headlines, kick-starting it’s roll out for “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” in 32 territories, including Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Mexico, South Korea and the U.K. The Mouse opens the pic in China and Russia next weekend day-and-date with the U.S.

The Darren Aronofsky-directed “Noah,” which has drawn heat from religious groups over some of the liberties taken with the source material, already has seen sizable debuts in certain international territories, including Mexico and South Korea. In Australia, “Noah” commanded more than half of the local marketshare on opening day, with results 20% greater than “Gravity” locally.

So far, “Noah,” starring Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly, has grossed $18.5 million from those three countries. Pic expands to 19 additional territories this weekend.

The film, which cost around $125 million to produce, certainly is positioned like a first-quarter tentpole, with hopes of appealing to audiences beyond faith-based markets. But its playability also depends greatly on how religious auds respond to the film.

Early reviews have been mostly positive, with a 76% positive rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes.

Also bowing domestically, Open Road’s Arnold Schwarzenegger action-thriller “Sabotage” is expected to land in the high-single digits. The film was financed and produced by QED Intl.

Lionsgate-Pantelion’s “Cesar Chavez,” from Participant Media, launches Friday at 664 Stateside locations, with Spanish-dubbed or subtitled versions available at all engagements. Pantelion, Lionsgate’s Hispanic-targeted label, is hitting its stride lately, and has targeted a grassroots marketing campaign for “Cesar Chavez” at Latino political other groups.

The overall domestic box office should see a boost from holdovers, led by Lionsgate-Summit’s YA adaptation “Divergent” entering its second frame with expectations ranging in the mid-$20 millions.

Appealing to the family market are Disney’s “Muppets Most Wanted” and Fox-DreamWorks Animation’s “Mr. Peabody & Sherman.” The former film fell flat last weekend, grossing just $19.6 million through Wednesday, while “Peabody” has hit its groove in the spring break corridor, surpassing $83 million domestically.

And continuing to break out in theaters, Fox Searchlight’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel” expands again in its fourth frame. In a remarkable platform rollout, the film has grossed nearly $15 million Stateside.

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