Box Office Guru

Thor Hammers The Competition

Fast Five and Jumping the Broom round out the top three.

by | May 9, 2011 | Comments

This weekend, the latest super hero from the Marvel vault made his debut on the silver screen as Thor soared to a number one opening in North America. The sequel Fast Five fell sharply but finished in second with a hefty take of its own as both films continued to fight it out across the global box office. Rival wedding comedies battled it out for third place with the black-led Jumping the Broom edging out the white-led Something Borrowed despite playing in 900 fewer theaters. But the overall marketplace could not match up to last year’s frame which saw a gargantuan bow from a bigger comic book avenger — Iron Man 2.

Doubling its nearest competitor, the effects-driven super hero flick Thor bowed on top with an estimated $66M from 3,955 locations for a muscular $16,688 average. Presented in 3D and in IMAX, the PG-13 film directed by Kenneth Branagh earned rave reviews and delivered strong debuts around the world before landing in North America this weekend. Technically speaking, Thor generated the third best opening for a debuting Marvel franchise after 2002’s Spider-Man and 2008’s Iron Man which also launched on the first weekends of May. However, other films like 2000’s X-Men, 2003’s The Hulk, and 2005’s Fantastic Four all sold more tickets and at today’s prices would have opening weekend tallies better than Thor’s. None of those films benefited from IMAX or 3D price hikes either.

Paramount’s Norse God flick starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, and Anthony Hopkins played to super hero fans as expected. 63% of the audience was male and 72% was over 25. 3D screens contributed 60% of the gross for the converted pic. The CinemaScore was a B+ meaning that critics loved the film, and regular moviegoers just liked it. Thor will return to screens next year on the first weekend of May alongside Iron Man, Captain America, and The Hulk when Marvel’s long-awaited The Avengers debuts through Disney.

Overseas, Thor grossed an estimated $46M this weekend from 60 markets boosting the international total to $176M and the global haul to $242M. With a more European feel to its story and characters, the film should see a larger share of its worldwide tally come from overseas than most American super hero films.

After a scorching debut last weekend that resulted in the year’s best opening, the action sequel Fast Five hit the brakes and decelerated by an understandable 62% but still collected an estimated $32.5M in its sophomore frame. The last three sequels in the series all dropped by 59-63% in the second weekend so the new installment is in line with how the franchise plays out. The Universal hit has banked a stellar $139.9M in ten days of domestic release and looks headed for $180-190M.

Sony enjoyed a surprisingly strong debut for its wedding comedy Jumping the Broom which grossed an estimated $13.7M this weekend. The $6.6M-budgeted production was expected to reach a maximum of $10M so the performance was impressive as the average came in at a solid $6,732 from only 2,035 sites. The PG-13 film starring Angela Bassett enjoyed a sturdy 25% boost in sales on Saturday and the distributor is projecting a very optimistic Sunday gross on Mothers Day that would slide a mere 17% from Saturday. Final grosses could see a tighter race between third and fourth places. Broom played to a mature female African American audience with exit polls showing that 70% of the crowd was female and 64% was over 35. A very high 95% stated that the film was “excellent” or “very good” and the CinemaScore grade was an encouraging A so good word-of-mouth should spread.

Something Borrowed, starring Ginnifer Goodwin and Kate Hudson, debuted to an estimated $13.2M putting it in fourth place although final grosses to be reported on Monday should see a closer race for the number three slot. The Warner Bros. title averaged a decent $4,530 from 2,904 theaters and played to a female audience not interested in super heroes and fast cars. Critics were brutal in their reviews and Saturday sales climbed only 2% so Borrowed will have to work hard during the weeks ahead.

Fox followed with a pair of films. The 3D animated hit Rio grossed an estimated $8.2M, off 45%, for a cume to date of $114.9M after 24 days. The Reese Witherspoon-Robert Pattinson romance Water for Elephants dropped 40% to an estimated $5.6M taking in $41.6M to date.

Madea’s Big Happy Family tumbled 60% in its third round to an estimated $3.9M while the high school flick Prom grabbed an estimated $2.4M, down 49%. Totals are $46.8M for Lionsgate and $7.8M for Disney.

Sony’s Soul Surfer slipped only 38% to an estimated $2.1M for $36.7M overall while Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil fell a steep 54% to an estimated $1.9M giving The Weinstein Co. a dismal $6.7M in ten days.

Summit’s Mel Gibson film The Beaver directed by and co-starring Jodie Foster was met with indifference from arthouse audiences debuting to just $104,000, according to estimates, from 22 theaters for a dull $4,727 average. Earning somewhat good reviews, the $21M production will expand on May 20 in North America although the limited bow suggests that the road ahead will be troublesome. Given Gibson’s very public personal problems over the last few years there are many that will not spend a dime on his movies and Beaver lacks any must-see buzz to make it an exception.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $149.5M which was down 11% from last year when Iron Man 2 opened in the top spot with a colossal $128.1M; but up 8% from 2009 when Star Trek debuted at number one with $75.2M.

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