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‘Captain America’ Opens at No. 1, Knocks ‘Potter’ From Top

“Captain America: The First Avenger” opened as the top film in the U.S. and Canada this weekend, collecting $65.1 million in ticket sales for Paramount Pictures and dethroning “Harry Potter.”

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2” dropped to second with $47.4 million after opening last week with a weekend record of $169 million, researcher Box-Office said today in an e-mailed statement.

“Captain America,” starring Chris Evans, is the latest superhero from the Marvel comics library to reach the big screen. The movie, distributed by Viacom Inc.’s Paramount, is one of several, including the “Iron Man” movies, leading up to next year’s “The Avengers.” In that picture, numerous Marvel heroes join forces to defend Earth from evil-doers.

“It reaffirms that people do want to see comic book movies, that there’s a giant appetite for the material, and that they aren’t going to go away any time soon,” Karie Bible, a box-office analyst at Exhibitor Relations, said yesterday in a telephone interview.

Superhero films have produced mixed results this year.

Paramount’s “Thor,” based on a Marvel character, was made for about $150 million and generated $446 million in global ticket sales, according to Box Office Mojo.

‘The Green Lantern’

Warner Bros.’ “The Green Lantern,” drawn from parent company Time Warner Inc.’s D.C. comics unit, took in $146.8 million worldwide against a budget of $200 million, according to the box office tracker. News Corp’s “X-Men: First Class,” also a Marvel-inspired film, cost about $160 million to make and had sales of $347 million worldwide.

“‘The Green Lantern’ was disappointing, but comic book movies are alive and well,” Bible said.

In “Captain America,” Evans plays Steve Rogers, a brave, scrawny man deemed unfit for military service during World War II. He is picked for a government-sponsored experiment that endows him with superior strength, speed and reflexes. Because of his courage and new physical capabilities, he is chosen for a highly dangerous mission to thwart a Nazi plot. The film cost about $140 million, according to the Internet Movie Database.

The weekend’s other new film, the R-rated romantic comedy “Friends With Benefits,” was third with sales of $18.6 million. The film stars Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis as friends who try to maintain a sexual relationship without emotional attachments.

Weekend Revenue

The premise of the Sony Corp. film is similar to that of “No Strings Attached,” a Paramount release that featured Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman. That movie, released in January, cost $25 million and generated $148 million in worldwide ticket sales.

Among returning films, “Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” came in fourth with $12.1 million in receipts. The Paramount Pictures release has taken in $325.8 million domestically since it was released on June 29.

“Horrible Bosses,” a comedy with Jason Bateman and Kevin Spacey, fell to fifth place from third, taking in $11.9 million for Warner Bros. The film has generated $82.6 million in sales since its July 8 release.

Revenue for the weekend for the top 12 films rose 17 percent to $181.3 million from a year earlier, said. Domestic box-office sales this year have declined 6.4 percent, while attendance is down 7.8 percent.

The amounts below are based on actual ticket sales for July 22 through yesterday.

                     Rev.             Avg./    Pct.   Total
Movie               (mln) Theaters  Theater    Chg.   (mln)  Wks
 1 CAPTAIN AMERICA  $65.1   3,715   $17,512     --    $65.1    1
 2 HARRY POTTER      47.4   4,375    10,839    -72    273.5    2
 3 FRIENDS WITHS     18.6   2,926     6,364     --     18.6    1
 4 TRANSFORMERS      12.1   3,375     3,571    -43    325.8    4
 5 HORRIBLE BOSSES   11.9   3,104     3,829    -33     82.6    3
 6 ZOOKEEPER          8.7   3,215     2,707    -29     59.2    3
 7 CARS 2 (3-D)       5.7   2,668     2,120    -33    176.4    5
 8 WINNIE THE POOH    5.2   2,405     2,146    -34     17.6    2
 9 BAD TEACHER        2.6   2,034     1,284    -49     94.4    5
10 MIDNIGHT IN PARIS  1.8     621     2,906     -4     44.8   10
11 BRIDESMAIDS        1.3     680     1,950    -23    163.8   11
12 LARRY CROWNE       1.0   1,035       985    -62     34.3    4

Top 12 Films Grosses

This Week Year Ago Pct. (mln) (mln) Chg. =================================== $181.3 $155.0 +17

Year-to-date Revenue

2011 2010 YTD YTD Pct. (mln) (mln) Chg. =================================== $6,146 $6,565 -6.4 Year-to-date Attendance: -7.8%

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