In our current summer of superhero movies, there’s been an ongoing concern about the ceiling for blockbusters featuring lesser lights than Batman or Spider-Man, especially in such a saturated market. But just as there might be a ceiling, there’s also a baseline, too: If you spend money on a second-tier comic book hero, then you can expect a sizable—if less than spectacular—return on investment. To that end, Captain America: The First Avenger made superhero money: $65.8 million to be exact, a mere $100,000 above fellow Marvel traveler Thor and a little over $10 million higher than Green Lantern and X-Men: First Class. Buoyed by better-than-average reviews—and offering itself as the most patriotic investment this side of Goldline coins—Captain America easily won the box office over the weekend, besting Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, Part II, which tumbled over 70% from its record-breaking opening. While Captain America didn’t appear to suffer from superhero-movie fatigue, the Justin Timberlake-Mila Kunis rom-com Friends With Benefits may have suffered from being the second movie of its kind this year after No Strings Attached. It’s the better of the two, but collected a comparably okay $18.5 million for third.
In limited release, the Holocaust drama Sarah’s Key and the indie sci-fi movie Another Earth both performed reasonably well on five and four screens, respectively, with Sarah’s Key taking $23,400 per screen and Another Earth $19,600. Despite Jenna Fischer’s presence, A Little Help performed poorly with a mere $2,000 per screen on 24 screens, and The Myth Of The American Sleepover earned $9,100 on a single screen, with its distributor (IFC) no doubt eyeing OnDemand and other money-making pipelines instead. And if you love ideological wrangling over the performance of the Sarah Palin documentary The Undefeated, there’s plenty of that going around. A $1,713 per screen average on its second weekend is bad by any measure, but bloggers from the left and right can enjoy another week of arguing whether its $101,000 total gross is super-awesome or a total disaster. Yawn.