Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is already in full swing. Captain America: Civil War first screened nearly a month before its premiere in North America, and the response is universally positive. Critics and audiences are raving about the work done by directors Joe and Anthony Russo - including their balancing of several established Avengers and introduction of new characters like Spider-Man and Black Panther. The next wave of Marvel films is off to a great start, setting up an exciting future moviegoers can't wait to see.
This, of course, extends to the commercial performance of Civil War. Opening in several international markets before reaching the States, the film has already grossed more than $200 million internationally. In the weeks leading up to its domestic debut, many analysts have tried to figure out how much it will bring in over its first three days in America. The estimates keep increasing each time they're updated, and the film is all but guaranteed to have one of the highest box office openings of the year, but just how much will it make? In a special edition of the Box Office Prediction, we're breaking down the chances of Civil War surpassing the $166 million posted by Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice earlier this year.
Civil War will almost certainly have a larger debut than the previous two solo Captain America films. In 2011, The First Avenger bowed to a modest $65 million and 2014's The Winter Soldier parlayed the property's newfound popularity with $95 million. The main difference in this case, obviously, is the cast. Whereas the previous Cap films had Steve Rogers in the lead, surrounded by fan-favorite supporting players, Civil War is essentially an Avengers movie. Just about all of Earth's Mightiest are featured (save for Thor and Hulk), giving Civil War more of an "event" feel than any other non-Avengers Marvel movie. The scale and scope is massive, something conveyed by the trailers.
The third Cap film also has an advantage over all similar genre titles. This week, it was revealed that it set a new superhero movie record for most ticket pre-sales - more than Batman V Superman or Avengers: Age of Ultron. Also helping it are the aforementioned reviews, which have steadily built up a wave of great buzz. People are always excited to see the latest tentpole, but in the age of social media, word-of-mouth is exceptionally critical. If a film is to have any chance of joining the elite ranks of the $1 billion club, they need critics and viewers behind it. Civil War most definitely has that support, and North American fans are foaming at the mouth to see what all the fuss is about after so many have raved about the final product.
As the kickoff to the summer movie season, Civil War is in a great position to succeed. It faces virtually no competition. Fellow Disney film The Jungle Book has already had its big moment at the box office, meaning that Cap 3 is the clear movie of choice for mainstream audiences. There are no other wide releases this week, a conscious decision made by rival studios to avoid getting lost in the hoopla. All eyes are on the MCU this week, and perhaps for most of the month until X-Men: Apocalypse and Alice Through the Looking Glass hit over Memorial Day. Civil War has the marketplace to itself, and seems to be the big film that most have been waiting for.
There honestly isn't much working against the film in terms of commercial prospects. It has hit the trifecta of a strong release window, audience anticipation, and critical praise. With all of those factors, it's difficult to envision a scenario in which Civil War does not set a new high for an opening weekend in 2016. As is the case with most of these major blockbusters, the only question is to see how well it does in the end. We're conservatively going to say it will make around $200 million in its first three days domestically, which would be the second-largest opening for the franchise.
The Box Office Prediction will return next week.
Captain America: Civil War opens in theaters May 6, 2016, followed by Doctor Strange on November 4, 2016;Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man: Homecoming – July 7, 2017;Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – March 8, 2019; Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on July 12, 2019, and on May 1, July 10, and November 6 in 2020.