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Weekend Report: 'Captain America' Rockets to the Top, 'Potter's Bubble Bursts


It was a dollar-spangled debut for Captain America: The First Avenger. Despite being the last to strike, the most famous superhero of Summer 2011's comic-book onslaught delivered the best opening salvo of the bunch, while Harry Potter's last stand fell prey to the adage, "the bigger they are, the harder they fall."

Captain America made an estimated $65.8 million on approximately 7,100 screens at 3,715 locations, edging out fellow Avenger Thor's $65.7 million as well as Green Lantern's $53.2 million and X-Men: First Class's $55.1 million to top the summer's superhero launches. While the gross difference was a sliver, Captain had nine percent greater estimated attendance than Thor, which received more bolstering from 3D (and had IMAX): Captain's 3D share was 40 percent at 2,511 3D locations, compared toThor's 60 percent at 2,737.

In terms of estimated attendance, Captain America's first weekend was slightly ahead of G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra but trailed Fantastic Four and X-Men among past July Marvel Comics kick-offs by sizable margins. Distributor Paramount Pictures' exit polling indicated that 64 percent ofCaptain's crowd was male (about the same as Thor) and 58 percent was 25 years of age and older (skewing younger than Thor's 72 percent).

As moviegoers rallied 'round Captain America, they fled from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. The wizard wunderkind mustered an estimated $48.1 million, but its 72 percent fall was far more severe than past opening weekend record breakers The Dark Knight(53 percent), Spider-Man 3 (62 percent) and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (54 percent) and by far the worst yet for a Harry Potter movie. However, that spoke more to the fan frenzy of Deathly Hallows Part 2's opening day than to the fans' reaction to the movie, and, with a whopping $274.2million tally in ten days,Deathly Hallows Part 2 was still the fastest-grossing Potter yet, topping Deathly Hallows Part I's $219.1 million ten-day run. In fact, Deathly Hallows Part 2 posted the second highest-grossing ten-day opening ever, behind The Dark Knight's $313.8 million, and it ranked 15th in estimated attendance.

Meanwhile, Friends with Benefits got off to an estimated $18.5 million start on around 3,500 screens at 2,926 locations. That was a tad less than fellow "friends-with-benefits" sex comedy No Strings Attached's $19.7 million back in January. Distributor Sony Pictures' research showed that 62 percent of Friends's audience was female (compared to 70 percent for No Strings) and 56 percent was age 25 years and older (versus 60 percent for No Strings).