Welcome to the Screen Rant Box Office Prediction. Every week we put together an informal list of box office picks for the upcoming weekend – in collaboration with the Screen Rant Underground podcast Box Office Battle – to offer readers a rough estimate of how new releases (and returning holdovers) will perform in theaters.

For a recap of last week’s box office totals, read our box office wrap-up from Noah‘s opening weekend – and scroll to the bottom of this post to see how our previous picks measured up.

Full disclosure: Box office predictions are not an exact science. We acknowledge that our picks may not always be correct. For the sake of offering a jumping off point for discussion, here are our picks for the weekend of April 4 – 6, 2014.

This weekend, superhero sequel Captain America: The Winter Soldier opens in 3,900 theaters. In limited release, Dom Hemingway debuts in 4 locations on April 2, Afflicted gets an unspecified release, Island of Lemurs: Madagascar sees a release of 37 theaters, while Nymphomaniac: Volume II and Under the Skin both are release in an unspecified number of locations.

#1 – Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Those playing our game this week should get an automatic three points with Captain America: The Winter Soldier finally opening in U.S. theaters this weekend. In 2011, the first solo Cap film debuted with over $65 million en route to a $176.6 million domestic total. Since that time, the character also appeared in the megahit The Avengers (over $600 million), so the brand has received a considerable boost. While it’s unlikely the film reaches the heights of Avengers or the Iron Man films, it will undoubtedly see an increase in opening numbers (think Thor: The Dark World).

While Winter Soldier is guaranteed the top spot thanks to the enthusiastic Marvel fan base, the overwhelming amount of positive buzz will only help it earn more. Early reviews have been extremely favorable, with many calling it the best Marvel Studios movie yet. The film’s tone (more of a political action-thriller) makes it a bit more grounded – and potentially accessible – than other superhero titles. Either way, with tracking numbers indicating an $80 million weekend, we only have to see how high this will open.

#2 – Noah

Last week’s champ, Noah (read our review), is an easy pick for second place. During its opening weekend, the Biblical epic grossed $43.7 million. It won’t be able to compete with the Marvel machine, but Noah had a large enough opening that even the inevitable second week decrease won’t be enough to make it fall down the charts too much.

#3 – Divergent

Coming in third should be Divergent (read our review). The dystopian young-adult adaptation showed decent legs by making $25.6 million during its second weekend. While it’s not in the same ballpark as other, more successful entries in this genre, it’s popular enough that its target audience will help it post solid numbers once again for at least another week.

#4 – Muppets Most Wanted

Our choice for fourth place is Muppets Most Wanted (read our review). Kermit and friends are doing a sequel, but moviegoers don’t seem all that interested. With only $33.1 million collected through two weeks of release, it doesn’t appear this film will be around for much longer. Still, you can never underestimate the power of a family film, so the latest Muppet adventure should stay in the top five for one more week.

#5 – The Grand Budapest Hotel

Rounding out the top five might be The Grand Budapest Hotel (read our review). Wes Anderson’s latest film has done very well at the box office so far, grossing $8.5 million in 977 locations last weekend (finishing sixth). The Winter Soldier is expected to suck the air out of most of the existing holdovers, targeting a wide audience and could steal business away from Divergent, Noah, and Muppets Most Wanted. That would open the door for this little bit of art house counter-programming to sneak in the top five (it barely missed last week). If the film keeps posting strong per theater averages, it’s certainly in the realm of possibility.

#10 – Need for Speed

Our tiebreaker pick for this week is Need for Speed (read our review), which came in eighth place last week.

That’s it for this week’s breakdown.

Now, if you want to participate in the weekly Box Office Battle, it’s time for you to make your picks! In the comments section below, post what you think will be the top five movies this weekend at the box office as well as your own number ten tiebreaker. Then, tune into the Screen Rant Underground podcast for the results and find out who won.

Opening in theaters this week (Wide):

  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier – 3,900 theaters

Opening in theaters this week (Limited):

  • Dom Hemingway – 4 theaters (on Wednesday)
  • Afflicted – unspecified
  • Island of Lemurs: Madagascar – 37 theaters
  • Nymphomaniac: Volume II – unspecified
  • Under the Skin – unspecified

Box Office Battle Scoring Rules: You get three (3) points for each direct match with the weekend actuals and one (1) point for each movie placed within one spot of the exact position. A perfect score is 15 points. Tie-breakers are not worth any points but, in the event of a tie, the person with a tie-breaker selection closest to the number 10 spot will be awarded the win.

Last Week’s Official Box Office Battle Reader Winner (Noah‘s opening): Sal reports that ThePrinceThatWasPromised is the winner again, this time with a perfect score of 15 points.

For the record, here are our picks from last week – along with the corresponding amount of points we received for each pick (listed in parenthesis).

  • #1 – Noah (3)
  • #2 – Divergent (3)
  • #3 – Muppets Most Wanted (3)
  • #4 – Sabotage (0)
  • #5 – Mr. Peabody and Sherman (3)
  • #10 – Non-Stop
  • Final Score: 12 points and a perfect tiebreaker

Make sure to check back later this week for the official box office results and tune into the Screen Rant Underground podcast for the weekly winners!

Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisAgar90

Source: Box Office Mojo (Release Schedule)