The “summer” U.S. movie season gets underway this week with Captain America: Civil War being a test whether Marvel Studios maintain its momentum.
The movie already is in release outside the U.S. In terms of reviews, it’s like the mirror image of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Cap has a 94 percent score on the Rotten Tomatoes website, based on 78 “fresh” reviews and only five “rotten” ones, with many U.S. critics yet to weigh in. Batman v Superman scored 27 percent, with 89 approving reviews and 236 pans.
A big opening weekend seems assured. But Marvel at times operates in such rarefied air at the box office, it can get criticism for not opening *big enough*.
Last year at this time, Avengers: Age of Ultron was cast as “only” having a $191.3 million opening weekend, because that was short of Marvel’s The Avengers’ $207.4 million in 2012. Then again, few are going to be sympathetic to Marvel or its corporate parent, Walt Disney Co., if Civil War is seen as not meeting expectations.
Then, of course, there’s the challenge whether Marvel’s latest effort will encourage repeat viewings and generate word-of-mouth to bring more people into theaters. Batman v Superman started out huge ($166 million its opening weekend) but fell off sharply. That film’s global box office, which Warner Bros. had hoped would exceed $1 billion, may fall short of SPECTRE’s $880.7 million.
It will also be interesting to see if Captain America: Civil War will maintain the tone of its 2014 predecessor, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which evoked darker, 1970s spy movies.Directors Anthony and Joe Russo , who helmed the 2014 film, were retained for the new movie, which does pick up story threads from Winter Soldier.
At the same time, Civil War is more sprawling, and is inspired by a 2006-07 story line in Marvel Comics that spanned multiple titles. That makes Civil War almost a third installment of The Avengers rather than a Cap adventure. It’s telling that in the movie’s logo that “Civil War” appear in much larger letters than “Captain America.”
Eight years ago, Marvel Studios began its trek of producing its own films, instead of licensing characters to studios, with the release Iron Man. Marvel plans out movies for years in advance (something Warners is trying to emulate with Superman v Batman and next year’s Justice League film).
Marvel is now in “Phase III,” with Civil War being the test whether it can keep going.
UPDATE: For Marvel, the early news is more than favorable. Captain America: Civil War has generated non-U.S. box office of $200.2 million, Variety reported.