By Martin Grove, www.ZAMM.com


         Marvelous May: After nine consecutive years of Marvel superheroes launching May to marvelous boxoffice results, history is about to repeat itself now with "Captain America: Civil War."

         Marvel Studios and Disney's new PG-13 rated 3D sci-fi action thriller, directed by Anthony Russo & Joe Russo ("Captain America: The Winter Soldier"), opens May 6 at about 4,000 theatres. Starring are: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Emily Van Camp, Marisa Tomei, Tom Holland, Frank Grillo and Martin Freeman with William Hurt and Daniel Brühl.

         Hollywood handicappers are talking about a domestic opening in the area of $190 million to $200 million. Boxoffice results have tended to exceed expectations lately, so we might even see a bigger opening. Tracking reports suggested, for instance, that Disney's "The Jungle Book" would debut to $60 million or, maybe, $65 million.

         As its opening approached, there was talk of maybe even $70 million. But when "Jungle" arrived Apr. 15 it had an astounding $103.3 million first weekend. In three weeks, it's done $252.1 million domestically and $432.7 million internationally for a global cume of $684.8 million.
         "War" invaded 30 international territories last week and is already flexing its superhero boxoffice muscles. Disney said Sunday it opened internationally "to a fantastic estimated $200.2 million, playing narrowly behind 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' and setting multiple records, including all-time industry opening weekends in Brazil, Mexico and the Philippines.

         "The excellent audience and critical reaction (94 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) bodes well for a long and healthy run. Strong international grosses are expected for tomorrow (5/2) due to the May Day holiday on Monday in many markets. Notably, the film's debut does not include any grosses from major markets such as China, Russia, Italy and Argentina, all of which open next weekend along with the U.S."

         Disney estimated that "War's" international opening "is only 5 percent behind 'Avengers: Age of Ultron,' 26 percent ahead of 'Iron Man 3,' 26 percent ahead of 'Avengers' and 157 percent ahead of 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier' when comparing the same suite of territories and all at today's exchange rates. It should be noted that 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' is the highest grossing 'super-hero' movie of all-time internationally with $946 million ($893 million at current rates)."

         In "War," a government decision to oversee the Avengers splinters the team into two camps. One side, led by Chris Evans as Steve Rogers and Captain America, wants the Avengers to remain free to safeguard humanity without government interference. The other camp, led by Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark and Iron Man, surprisingly favors government accountability for the Avengers.

 The series' first episode, "Captain America: The First Avenger," opened July 22, 2011 via Paramount to $65.1 million. It went on to gross $176.7 million domestically.

The second episode, "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," opened via Disney Apr. 4, 2014 to $95 million and did $259.8 million domestically.

The better comparison for "War" is Marvel and Disney's "Avengers" franchise rather than "Captain America" since "War" is an "Avengers" type mash-up of Marvel characters – including Captain America, Iron Man, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Black Panther, Scarlet Witch, Ant Man and Spider-Man.

Marvel and Disney's 3D PG-13 fantasy action adventure "Avengers: Age of Ultron" opened last May 1 to $191.3 million and went on to do $459 million domestically. It grossed $946.4 million internationally, giving it a worldwide theatrical cume of $1.4 billion.

This will be the tenth consecutive year that a Marvel film has kicked off the month of May at the domestic boxoffice, launching the pre-summer period that culminates with Memorial Day.

Looking back, here's how Marvel's first-week-in-May blockbusters have performed since 2007:

2015: "Avengers: Age of Ultron" (Marvel and Disney) opened May 1, 2015 to $191.3 million. It grossed $459 million domestically.

2014: "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" (Marvel and Columbia) opened May 2 to $91.6 million. It grossed $202.9 million domestically.

2013: "Iron Man 3" (Marvel and Disney) opened May 3 to $174.1 million. It grossed $409 million domestically.

2012: "The Avengers" (Marvel and Disney) opened May 4 to $207.4 million. It grossed $623.4 million domestically.

2011: "Thor" (Marvel and Paramount) opened May 6 to $65.7 million. It grossed $181 million domestically.

2010: "Iron Man 2" (Marvel and Disney) opened May 7 to $128.1 million. It grossed $312.4 million domestically.

2009: "X-Men Origins: Wolverine"  (Marvel and 20th Century Fox) opened May 1 to $85.1 million. It grossed $179.9 million domestically.

2008: "Iron Man" (Marvel and Paramount) opened May 2 to $98.6 million. It grossed $318.4 million domestically.

2007: "Spider-Man 3" (Marvel and Columbia) opened May 4 to $151.1 million. It grossed $336.5 million domestically.

That's as far back as Marvel's early May releases go. In 2006 Marvel's "X-Men: The Last Stand" (Marvel and Fox) ended the month with its May 26 debut to $102.8 million. It wound up with $234.4 million domestically. May 2006's first big opening was "Mission: Impossible III" (Paramount and Cruise/Wagner Productions) on May 5 with $47.7 million. It went on to do $134 million domestically.

Not surprisingly, no other wide openings are going head to head with "War" the weekend of May 6-8. But here's a quick look at what's going into wide release in the following three weeks of May.

Two titles are hoping that Friday, May 13 turns out to be their lucky day, but it's a safe bet we'll see a very powerful second weekend in theatres for "War."

         The R rated thriller "Money Monster," from TriStar, Village Roadshow and Smokehouse Pictures, is directed by Jodie Foster

("Home For the Holidays") and stars George Clooney, Julia Roberts and Jack O'Connell. It should play best to adult women and next best to men over 25.

         In "Money," insider tips have turned TV personality Lee Gates (Clooney) into a Wall Street money guru. But after a really bad tip from Lee costs Kyle (O'Connell) all his money, Kyle takes Lee and his producer (Roberts) hostage on the air. Kyle threatens to kill Lee if he doesn't get his now worthless stock up about 24 points before the market's closing bell. Meanwhile, Lee's ratings soar as the whole country tunes in to see what will happen next.

         Relativity Studios and Di Bonaventura Pictures' thriller "Kidnap" is directed by Luis Prieto ("Pusher") and stars Halle Berry, Dana Gourrier and Christopher Berry. It should do best with adult women.

         Halle Berry plays a mother who will stop at absolutely nothing to try to get her kidnapped son back alive.

         May 20 will see three new wide releases competing for moviegoers' time and money.

         Warner Bros. and Silver Pictures' R rated crime thriller "The Nice Guys" is from "Iron Man 3" director Shane Black and Joel Silver, producer of "The Matrix" and "Sherlock Holmes" franchises.

         "Nice," set in 1970s Los Angeles, should play best to adult men. It's about a down-on-his-luck private eye (Ryan Gosling) and a hired leg-breaker (Russell Crowe), who team up to solve the case of a missing girl and a porn star's death. The conspiracy they uncover reaches the highest circles of power.

         Universal Pictures' R rated comedy "Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising" is from "Neighbors" director Nicholas Stoller. It should play best to under-25 females and under-25 males.

         "Neighbors" opened May 9, 2014 to $49 million and did $150.2 million domestically.

         In the franchise's second episode, Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) have a second baby on the way and are now ready to make the big move to living in the suburbs. But just as they think they've reclaimed their neighborhood and it's safe to sell their home, they find their new neighbors are a college sorority that's way more out of control than Teddy (Zac Efron) and his fraternity brothers were in episode one.

         The PG rated 3D family appeal animated action comedy "The Angry Birds Movie" from Columbia Pictures and Rovio Entertainment is from first-time feature directors Fergal Reilly & Clay Kaytis. It stars such voice talents as: Bill Hader, Maya Rudolph and Peter Dinklage.

         The smartphone game that "Angry" is based on has reportedly been downloaded more than one billion times since its debut in 2009.

         The film's island setting is populated entirely by happy, flightless birds – well, almost entirely. In this paradise, there's Red (voiced by Jason Sudeikis), a bird with a temper problem, and two outsiders -- the very speedy Chuck (Josh Gad) and the very volatile Bomb (Danny McBride). When green piggies suddenly turn up on the island, these unlikely outcasts must figure out what those mysterious pigs are really up to. 

         The month's last weekend is the four day Memorial Day weekend from May 27-30 that officially starts Hollywood's summer movie season. Two high profile titles targeted to very different audiences will be hitting the multiplexes and hoping to make the most of expanded holiday moviegoing.

         Marvel through an earlier partnership with 20th Century Fox (before Disney bought Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion in August 2009) will launch its 3D male appeal fantasy action adventure "X-Men: Apocalypse." Directed by Bryan Singer ("X-Men: Days of Future Past"), it stars Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender and Olivia Munn.

         The series' last episode, "X-Men: Days of Future Past," opened May 23, 2014 to $90.8 million. It went on to gross $233.9 million domestically.

         In this episode, Apocalypse, the first and most powerful mutant from Marvel's X-Men universe, has combined many other mutants' powers to become immortal and invincible. Awakening after thousands of years and disillusioned with the world, he assembles a team of powerful mutants to cleanse mankind and create a new world order, over which he will reign -- with Earth's fate hanging in the balance.

         Walt Disney Pictures and Roth Films' family appeal PG rated 3D fantasy adventure "Alice Through the Looking Glass" is from "Muppets Most Wanted" director James Bobin and producer Tim Burton, who directed "Alice in Wonderland." Starring are: Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Mia Wasikowska and Rhys Ifans with Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen.  

         The franchise's first episode opened Mar. 5, 2010 to $116.1 million and did $334.2 million domestically.        

         In the new episode, Alice (Wasikowska) returns to the fantastical realm of Underland, traveling back in time to save the Mad Hatter (Depp).

Bottom line: Hollywood's in store for another very merry month of May at the boxoffice!