Sure, Rio’s nice this time of year. And heaven is, well, heavenly. But when it comes to movies, North American audiences still think there’s nothing quite like, well, America. Captain America, that is.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier once again took point and marched straight to the top of the box office this weekend—the third straight victory for Cap and Co. The estimated $26.6 million the flick earned this weekend may not be enough to buy a new Vibranium shield for Steve Rogers (those things are expensive), but it did push The Winter Soldier over the $200 million mark: Not bad soldier’s pay, really.
The birds of Rio 2, meanwhile, winged their way to a $22.5 million weekend and perched at No. 2 for the second straight week. They fended off a determined challenge by plucky Christian newcomer Heaven Is for Real, which earned a pearly $21.5 million.
Heaven may have finished third, but its strong performance still surprised some box office prognosticators (a common reaction, it would seem). According to the early estimates, Heaven earned nearly twice as much as fellow newcomer Transcendence, which boasted both a megawatt star (Johnny Depp) and play in 1,000 more theaters. The Deppster had to settle for a fourth-place, $11.2 million weekend. Heaven also looked down in judgment on A Haunted House 2, which took in a mere $9.1 million for fifth. And Bears, Disney’s charming new nature show designed to celebrate Earth Day, wasn’t even in the derby, really, earning $4.8 million for 11th place.
Heaven Is for Real’s performance slaps an exclamation mark on a really remarkable spring for Christian and faith-themed movies. Noah, as biblically irresponsible as it is, is still floating in the top 10 and has earned $93.3 million in its month in theaters. God’s Not Dead, perhaps the most surprising success story of 2014, also still holds a spot in the Top 10, with its grade book stuffed with 48.3 million A+ dollars. And Son of God, still playing in 500 theaters, has earned $59.4 million over its eight-week run.
Clearly, Captain America isn’t the only one flexing a little muscle at the box office.
Final figures update: Heaven Is for Real made enough more than the estimates ($22.5 million) to swap spots with Rio 2 ($22.2 million), landing it in the runner-up position. And Bears clawed its way into the Top 10 with $4.8 million. The rest of the real raw numbers are 1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier, $25.6 million; 4. Transcendence, $10.9 million; 5. A Haunted House 2, $8.8 million.