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Weekend Box Office: Winter Soldier Ices Competition, Heaven is the Real Deal; Transcendence Fails

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By Chris Kavan - 04/20/14 at 08:54 PM CT

The Easter weekend proved good for superhero and faith-based films but Johnny Depp wasn't so lucky. It also wasn't a banner weekend for Marlon Wayans. But despite the highs and lows, year to year the box office continued to improve, up over $20 million compared to last years and continuing the trend we've been seeing for most of the year. And with this win, Captain America should have no trouble at topping the last week of the month (until making way for a different superhero in May).

1) CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER

For the third straight weekend, Captain America: The Winter Soldier topped the box office. Dropping just 35.5%, Winter Soldier added $26.6 million to its total, helping it cross the $200 million mark with a new total of $201.5 million. That easily topped The First Avenger, which wound up with $176.6 million and it should be able to pass Thor: The Dark World ($206.3 million) by next weekend. The Captain is guaranteed a $250 million total and, depending on how big of damage The Amazing Spider-Man 2 does to its audience, $300 million is still looking like a possibility. Regardless, the film still gives the franchise a nice boost and bodes well for the future.

2) RIO 2

Repeating in the second spot as well, Rio 2 brought in $22.5 million and gave the film a new total of $75.3 million - well on its way to $100 million. The sequel dipped 42.8% - a lot deeper than the 33% the original film dropped in its second weekend. Even though it is the go-to family film right now, it looking more and more like it will have trouble topping the $143.6 million that Rio took in - though it will top its $103 million budget without much issue.

3) HEAVEN IS FOR REAL

Going in to this weekend, I knew faith-based films had seen a nice resurgence. With Son of God, Noah and God is for Real all meeting or exceeding expectations, the genre has been a great success. Heaven is for Real didn't disappoint - bringing in a fantastic $21.5 million over the weekend. With Wednesday grosses factored in, it now has $28.5 million total. The film was a hit with audiences (62% female, 51% over 35) who gave it an "A" cinemascore. In fact, should the movie play out - it should top both Son of God ($60 million) and God's Not Dead (currently at $48 million) to become the biggest Christian-themed film of the year (Noah is a bit of an amalgamation). While Christian audiences certainly had a big impact, it should be noted that Heaven is for Real is based on a popular book and can serve as both an inspiration rather than a straight-up religious film (likely reaching a more broad audience in the process).

4) TRANSCENDENCE

Wally Pfister's directorial debut was a big debacle and for Johnny Depp, Transcendence represented yet another disappointing movie to add to his resume. Opening with just $11.1 million, it joined The Lone Ranger ($29.2 million) and Dark Shadows ($29.7 million) as notable Depp flops. In fact, in terms of sci-fi films, its debut was worse than Stealth ($13.3 million) and The Island ($12.4 million) - both considered notable bombs in their own right. It's no wonder - with a decidedly terrible critic response (19% on Rotten Tomatoes) and a depressing "C+" Cinemascore - both the movie snobs and movies slobs gave it the cold shoulder. I saw it - and I can say it deserves the response it got. If the story had been more polished, I think it would have been a hit - but it was a boring, muddled mess - not likely to be the worst film of the year, but, sadly, certainly in contention. With the overwhelmingly negative results, the movie is going to struggle to hit $30 million, which, coming off a $100 million budget, isn't a good thing for anyone involved.

5) A HAUNTED HOUSE 2

Marlon Wayans had a nice hit with A Haunted House, which earned a cool $40 million on a reported $2 million budget. It's a no-brainer that a sequel was commissioned - just like all those "found footage" films they spoofed, a low budget with a big returns is golden in the eyes of studios. Lightning didn't quite strike twice, but things are still going to turn out alright. A Haunted House 2 doubled its modest budget (to $4 million) but only opened to $9.1 million (about half as much as the first film's $18.1 million debut). But, hey, the film has already doubled it's estimated budget in one weekend - and it's only going to be gravy from here. Even if it winds up with half as much of a total ($20 million) as the original film, it's still going to make a profit. It might mean we won't get A Haunted House 3 - but they keep making more Paranormal Activity films on diminishing returns, so don't count it out.

Outside the top five: Although Disneynature films have always had a niche audience, they have also been moderately successful. But Bears opened to just $4.8 million (outside the top 10 in 11th place), which represents the worst start yet for the series. Next year focuses on monkeys, so I'm betting it will garner a better response as well.

Frozen is about to hit $400 million domestically (it's inching there with a few hundred thousand each week) and hit likely its last major international milestones - at $729.3 million, it is officially the highest-grossing international animated movie and, combined with its domestic run, now stands at $1.129 billion - passing Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and Transformers: Dark of the Moon for 6th on the all-time international charts.

Next week three films open: the female-centric comedy The Other Woman, the horror film The Quiet Ones and one of the final films of the late Paul Walker, the action film Brick Mansions. We'll see if Winter Soldier can hold off one last onslaught and end April at the top of the box office.

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