NEW YORK (AP) – "Captain Marvel," Marvel Studios' first female-fronted superhero movie, launched with $153 million domestically and $455 million globally, according to studio estimates Sunday, making it one of the biggest blockbusters ever led by a woman.
Brie Larson's Carol Danvers, a character who first debuted in Marvel Comics in 1968, had never before made it into the movies and was previously lesser known than many Marvel heroes. But "Captain Marvel," which came in at the high end of the Walt Disney Co.'s expectations, ranks as one of Marvel's most successful character debuts.
Only "The Avengers" movies, "Black Panther," ''Captain America: Civil War" and "Iron Man 3" have opened better in the Marvel cinematic universe.
"She definitely pushed us higher, further, faster," said Disney distribution chief Cathleen Taff.
"Captain Marvel" rocketed up other record books, too. It sets a new worldwide mark for a film directed or co-directed by a woman. "Captain Marvel" was helmed by the filmmaking team of Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, who previously made the indies "Half Nelson" and "Mississippi Grind."
It's the sixth largest worldwide debut ever. The only movie with a female lead that's opened better globally was "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," which grossed $529 million when it debuted in 2015.
Like the "Force Awakens" sequel "The Last Jedi," ''Captain Marvel" had to tangle with trolls who sought to lessen the film's impact. Some fans claimed Larson's hero didn't smile enough, a charge she responded to with doctored pictures of previous male Marvel superheroes with awkwardly full grins. Others took issue with Larson's statements about making her press interviews for the film more inclusive and not "overwhelmingly white male."
The anti-”Captain Marvel” campaign included the flooding of Rotten Tomatoes audience scores, which artificially drove down the film’s score to 55 percent fresh from more than 44,000 votes as of Sunday. To combat the down-voting issue in advance of “Captain Marvel,” Rotten Tomatoes (which doesn’t require users to verify that they’ve seen a movie that they’re scoring) removed the ability to rate movies prior to release.
Taff declined to address “Captain Marvel” foes but applauded Marvel and Kevin Feige for propelling a movie that expanded the Marvel universe.
“What they believe is that the more you diversify perspective and experience in front of and behind the camera, the better the movies and the stories are,” said Taff of Marvel. “You see that in their track record. I think you see that in their box office. And I think you see that in the broadening of their fan base.”
CinemaScore, which relies on interviews with audience members coming out of theaters, found crowds very much liked “Captain Marvel,” giving it an A rating. Reviews were less enthusiastic but still good, landing 79 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.