Weekend Box Office Preview: Captain America Soars Past Competition

This weekend’s most anticipated release is Paramount (NYSE:VIA) and Marvel Entertainment’s (NYSE:DIS) Captain America: The First Avenger. The film, starring Chris Evans in the title role, is a part of a larger Avengers franchise that includes the hugely popular Iron Man films starring Robert Downey Jr., and this year’s Thor.

The film has already grossed $4 million in midnight debuts at 2,000 U.S. theaters, the best midnight gross for any superhero film this summer, beating out 20th Century Fox’s (NASDAQ:NWSA) X-Men: First Class and Warner Brothers’ (NYSE:TWX) Green Lantern. Earlier this year, Thor debuted to $3.25 million in midnight ticket sales, going on to gross $65 million domestically in its opening weekend.

Paramount is expecting Captain America to fare better than First Class, which grossed $55.1 million in its opening weekend, but not so well as Thor. Based on the popular comic series from Marvel Entertainment’s Stan Lee, Captain America is being heavily promoted at this week’s Comic-Con in San Diego.

Also being released in theaters this weekend is the Justin Timberlake/Mila Kunis R-rated comedy, Friends With Benefits, a Sony/Columbia (NYSE:SNE) picture. The film’s supporting cast includes Patricia Clarkson, Jenna Elfman, Woody Harrelson, SNL‘s Andy Samberg, and Modern Family‘s Nolan Gould.

Continuing this weekend is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, already this year’s fourth highest grossing film domestically after only a week in theaters. As of Thursday, the film had grossed $651.4 million worldwide and looks to be on its way to being Warner Brothers’ highest grossing film ever. The film currently holding that title, 2008’s The Dark Knight, grossed just over $1 billion worldwide. Deathly Hallows 2 has already broken all opening-weekend box-office records and has pushed the 8-film franchise’s combined worldwide gross above $7 billion.