This weekend, making more money than all other films combined, the super hero sequel Thor: The Dark World descended upon the box office and crushed all rivals delivering the fourth biggest opening weekend of the year. Distributed by Disney, the Marvel tentpole bowed to an estimated $86.1M from 3,841 locations for a muscular $22,418 average including higher-priced tickets from 3D and IMAX screens.
The Dark World opened 31% mightier than the $65.7M bow of its 2011 predecessor, which was slightly better than the jump that the second Iron Man film enjoyed following two years after the first movie from that series. For both Avengers-related franchises, the first chapter tackled the origin story while the sequel saw the hero take on a new mission against a new villain.
The new Thor got the weekend started with a stellar $31.6M on Friday which included $7.1M from Thursday night shows beginning at 8:00pm. For most comic book flicks and sequels it is common for Saturday to dip from a supercharged opening day with earlier Thursday preview shows. A slide of around 10% would be normal since fanboys rush out to the first possible shows. But The Dark World actually remained flat on Saturday with a remarkable $31.7M — an incredible hold. Disney projected a 28% decline on Sunday to $22.8M helped in part by Monday being Veterans Day, a school holiday.
Only three films opened stronger this year — Iron Man 3 with $174.1M, Man of Steel with $116.6M ($128.7M including Thursday evening group sales) and Fast & Furious 6 with $97.4M. The demographic breakdown of the Dark World audience was almost identical gender-wise to the first Thor‘s, but there was a noticeable shift towards younger moviegoers this time. Males made up 62% of the crowd while 61% were over 25 for the sequel. Those figures compared to 63% and 72%, respectively, for the 2011 predecessor. And while the first Thor was more of a critic-pleaser, the humor-filled followup played as more of a crowd-pleaser. Reviews were not as sensational this time around; however, the CinemaScore grade from paying audiences was a solid A- compared to the B+ for the first Thor.
With no major competition to face in its second weekend, Thor: The Dark World will be able to bank an impressive two-week gross before The Hunger Games: Catching Fire debuts to what might be record levels. The first Thor went on to gross $181M domestically and $449M worldwide (60% from international) and its sequel should have no problem beating both of those numbers.
Overseas, the new Thor raked in an estimated $94M this weekend from holdover markets that launched last week as well as a few new markets led by China’s potent $19.6M Friday-to-Sunday bow. The international total now stands at $240.9M led by Russia’s $24.1M, $22.6M from the U.K., China’s $19.6M from only three days, Brazil’s $15.9M, and Mexico’s $15.7M. Thor: The Dark World has grossed a fantastic $327M worldwide in under two weeks and may be on its way across the $700M barrier by the end of its global run.
It was a three-way race for the bridesmaid position as a bunch of holdovers all projected just over $11M in weekend business. Final chart positions might change. Paramount’s hit prank flick Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa dropped 44% in its third round (another nice hold for this kind of movie) to an estimated $11.3M, lifting the cume to a stellar $78.7M. The Johnny Knoxville film cost only $15M to produce.
The animated film Free Birds declined by only 29% in its second weekend thanks to no new competition for young children. The Relativity release banked an estimated $11.2M, upping the total to $30.2M heading to about $60M. Also holding well was the star-driven comedy Last Vegas with an estimated $11.1M, off just 32%, for $33.5M to date. CBS Films may end in the $60M range too.
As widely expected, the sci-fi film Ender’s Game took a beating in its second weekend with the arrival of Thor. Lionsgate suffered a 62% tumble to an estimated $10.3M putting the ten-day sum at $44M — disappointing for a pricey effects-driven adventure meant to launch a new franchise. A $60-65M final seems likely.
The space blockbuster Gravity fell from the top five for the first time in its six-week run taking sixth place with an estimated $5.4M sliding 35%. The decline was about the same as for the last two frames which was amazing given the huge footprint Thor left this weekend. The Warner Bros. overperformer has now grossed a sensational $231.1M domestically while the international haul rose to $241.2M putting the new worldwide tally at an impressive $472.3M. Next week’s China opening on November 20 is expected to keep things going, especially with the popularity of 3D and IMAX there.
Awards hopeful 12 Years A Slave expanded nationwide after three weeks of successful limited play and landed in seventh for the weekend with an estimated $6.6M from 1,144 locations for a good $5,769 average. Fox Searchlight nearly tripled the run this weekend and its total is now $17.3M. Sony’s Captain Phillips followed with an estimated $5.8M, down 31%, for a $91M sum for Sony on its way to the century club.
Universal expanded its sci-fi romance About Time across North America following one week of limited release and saw lackluster results. The Rachel McAdams drama grossed an estimated $5.2M from 1,200 sites for a mild $4,310 average. The studio reported an aggressive estimate expecting its core female audience to come out strong on Football Sunday and be helped by Monday’s Veteran’s Day holiday. However, its slim 7% projected Sunday drop is far smaller than the 28-43% predicted by every other film in the top ten so the final weekend figure may come in lower. Universal research showed that About Time skewed 71% female and 56% 40 and older. Cume is $5.2M and reviews were mixed.
Rounding out the top ten was the toon sequel Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 which dropped 33% to an estimated $2.8M giving Sony $110M to date.
Below the top ten, Fox platformed its Nazi Germany-set drama The Book Thief in just four theaters and debuted to an estimated $108,000 for a strong $27,000 average. With mixed reviews, the PG-13 film heads into additional cities throughout the month. Focus found solid results with its second weekend expansion of Matthew McConaughey’s Dallas Buyers Club which collected an estimated $629,000 from 35 locations for a good $17,971 average. Total is $985,000.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $158.7M which was off by less than 1% from last year when Skyfall opened at number one with $88.4M; but up 28% from 2011 when Immortals debuted in the top spot on 11.11.11 with $32.2M.