Captain America is again No. 1

Posted: April 18, 2014 at 1:59 a.m.

Luiz (from left), Rafael, Blu, Pedro and Nico are among the colorful cast of characters in Rio 2. It came in second at last weekend’s box office and made more than $39 million.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier led ticket sales for a second week, holding off Fox’s Rio 2, as audiences rewarded Hollywood studios for releasing their biggest films early.

The Winter Soldier, the superhero sequel to the 2011 movie, took in $41.3 million in U.S. and Canadian theaters, while the animated Rio 2 collected $39.3 million to place second in its debut for 20th Century Fox Inc., Rentrak Corp. said Sunday.

The superhero movie, which posted a record opening for April and notched up the biggest debut so far this year, shows how Hollywood can successfully stagger releases to help avoid cannibalizing sales of too many so-called tent pole pictures during the summer. It’s also more evidence of the commercial success of Marvel studios, acquired by Disney in 2009, which has since churned out monster hits like Marvel’s The Avengers and Iron Man 3.

“The key takeaway is this is turning into a huge month and bodes well for the industry,” said Phil Contrino, chief analyst with“It highlights that if studios spread out their films during the year they can do really well.”

Such is the confidence Disney has in its Marvel productions, the company said last week, that the third Captain America film will open on the same day as the combined Superman-Batman movie from Warner Bros. in May 2016.

The Winter Soldier has taken in $477 million globally, according to Box Office Mojo.

The movie, with Chris Evans in the title role, picks up the story of super-soldier Steve Rogers, who finds himself battling a Soviet agent known as the Winter Soldier. It was directed by Anthony and Joe Russo and cost an estimated $170 million to produce, according to Box Office Mojo.

Horror film Oculus, the third new film in wide release, placed third, generating sales of $12 million for Relativity Media LLC. The movie follows a woman who tries to exonerate her brother, convicted of murder, by proving that the crime was committed by a supernatural phenomenon.

It was projected to take in $13 million in its domestic opening. The movie garnered a 71 percent rating on

Football drama Draft Day, featuring Kevin Costner, placed fourth in its debut weekend, raising $9.8 million for Lionsgate Entertainment Corp. It had been forecast to generate $13.5 million by

Costner stars as manager Sonny Weaver, who takes a gamble on rebuilding his team when he finds out his job is on the line. gave the film a 61 percent positive rating.

With $39.5 million domestically, the Wes Anderson caper The Grand Budapest Hotel has performed exceptionally in a gradual release by Fox Searchlight. The independently released Christian film God’s Not Dead, from Freestyle Releasing, has made a whopping $41 million in four weeks.

Just holding in the top six was Lionsgate’s teen sci-fi franchise-starter Divergent, which added $7.4 million in its fourth week to bring its cumulative total to $125 million. Lionsgate announced April 11 that the third installment in the series (a sequel for 2015 is already in the works) will be split into two releases. The final book in Veronica Roth’s young-adult trilogy, Allegiant, will be made into two installments, one to open in March 2016, the other in March 2017.

MovieStyle, Pages 32 on 04/18/2014