Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is nearly upon us, with the theatrical premiere of Captain America: Civil War set for May 2016. The film has already been screened for members of the press (and had a world premiere at CinemaCon), and the early reaction is universally positive. Those who have seen what Joe and Anthony Russo have in store have praised their handling of the material, as well as stellar introductions for franchise newcomers Spider-Man and Black Panther. By all accounts, it looks like the next wave of the MCU is starting off with a bang.
As is the case with every major event film, it's all but a guarantee that Civil War will finish in the top spot at the box office during its opening weekend. The only real question is how high could it go. The first rough estimates are now in, and while the third Captain America movie may not reach the heights of the two Avengers movies, it will still make a pretty penny when it debuts in a few weeks.
According to THR, Marvel's latest blockbuster is on track to gross $175 million domestically in its first three days. That would be the fifth-highest opening in history, behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Jurassic World, and both Avengers movies. Should these projections pan out, Civil War would significantly eclipse the debuts for the previous two solo Captain America movies - which started at $65 million and $95 million, respectively. That development isn't surprising, since Civil War's #TeamCap vs. #TeamIronMan dynamic gives it the feel of an Avengers film instead of a typical standalone adventure.
Some reports are suggesting that Civil War may open even higher. Umberto Gonzalez of Heroic Hollywood says that it's possible the film reaches the staggering total of $220 million in the United States, which would trail only The Force Awakens on the all-time opening weekend charts. It's very plausible that Captain America 3 can approach a $200+ million debut, considering that word-of-mouth is very strong and the film is riding a wave of great buzz. Fans have been excited to see the film ever since it was announced, and it sounds like it lives up to the hype. In addition, other studios are smartly steering clear of Civil War, as it is the only wide release scheduled for that weekend. It'll largely have the marketplace to itself, which is a recipe for tremendous success.
Regardless of which estimates prove to be closest to the actuals, Civil War is poised to continue Disney's box office dominance in 2016. The Mouse House already struck gold earlier this year with Zootopia, and their live-action Jungle Book remake pulled in more than $100 million during its opening weekend. This is merely the tip of the iceberg for the studio, since they also have Finding Dory, Doctor Strange, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on the horizon, and all of them should do great business. Universal was the story at the box office last year with all their broken records, but Disney is about to take the crown.
Captain America: Civil War will release on May 6, 2016, followed by Doctor Strange– November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man: Homecoming – July 7, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 –May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – March 8, 2019; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019; Inhumans –July 12, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on May 1, July 10 and November 6, 2020.