Weekend Box Office: THOR: THE DARK WORLD Thunders Past $86 Million

     November 10, 2013

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Thor: The Dark World earned an estimated $86.1 million from 3,841 locations on its first weekend in theatres.  That might seem like a step down for the Thunder God after appearing in The Avengers but, Disney will be quick to note, the debut marks a 31% improvement over Thor’s first solo outing, in 2011. And, as for all those predictions that put the sequel in the $100 million range? I’m not sure what we were thinking…

 Title Weekend Total
1.  Thor: The Dark World $86,100,000 $86.1
2.  Bad Grandpa $11,300,000 $78.7
3.  Free Birds $11,180,000 $38.1
4.  Last Vegas $11,100,000 $33.5
5.  Ender’s Game $10,800,000 $44
6.  Gravity $8,405,000 $231.1
7.  12 Years a Slave $6,600,000 $17.3
8.  Captain Phillips $5,800,000 $90.9
9.  About Time $5,172,000 $6.6
10.  Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 $2,800,000 $109.9

thor-the-dark-world-posterDon’t let box office hyperbole cloud your judgment, Thor: The Dark World is a giant hit. In international territories, the sequel has earned over $240 million in a little over one week. That is close to the first Thor’s final international total of $268 million. On the domestic front, Thor 2 has already taken in almost half of its predecessor’s $181 million in just three days. Though he may have fallen short of the $100 million hurdle that Batman and Spider-Man vault with ease, Thor has clearly set a new benchmark for the so-called “second-tier” superheroes.

For weeks, Thor: The Dark World had been tracking in the $95 million range. Those projection were based on the “Avengers effect” – the belief in the box office potential of all post-Avengers Marvel features. Until this morning, there was only one other property on which to test the Avengers-effect theorem: Iron Man 3. Back in May, IM3 launched with $174.1 million, or the second-highest domestic debut of all time (after The Avengers). That is an outsized number, but it’s important to note that Iron Man 2 was already well over $100 million when it opened in 2010.

The point here is that $100 million was a rather arbitrary goal. Iron Man 3 got a 36% boost after The Avengers, so it was probably unrealistic to expect Thor: The Dark World to do better. The film received an A- CinemaScore from audiences, but Rotten Tomatoes rates it at 66% – down from the 77% of the original. Considering that that first film was viewed as a bit of a disappointment, Thor: The Dark World did better than most of us could have imagined… prior to The Avengers.

about-time-posterClearly, Thor: The Dark World brought the hammer down on the weekend’s other offerings. In fact, it earned more than the rest of the top ten films combined. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t stories of note buried in those tiny, tiny grosses. Free Birds and Last Vegas each saw excellent holds on their second frames. Vegas was down by 32%, in fourth place, and Free Birds by 29% – holds that are even more impressive when compared to Ender’s Game. Last weekend’s number one film was down over 62% this weekend. Thanks to Thor, that drop was absolutely expected; but because Ender’s debut was not authoritative to begin with, it still has to hurt.

12 Years a Slave expanded its run to 1,144 venues on Friday. In its first frame in ‘wide’ release, the drama earned an estimated $6.6 million to bring its domestic total up to $17.3 million. Universal’s About Time also went wide this weekend.  After taking in just over $1 million from 175 locations last weekend, the romantic comedy cracked this week’s top ten with an estimate of $5.1 million.

Because Thor The Dark World dominated the box office so completely, overall earnings were down by about 4% from this same weekend in 2012, when Skyfall launched with $88.3 million. That film went on to earn over $300 million in the US despite launching just one week ahead of the final entry in the Twilight Saga. This year, Thor 2 will get some breathing room before  The Hunger Games: Catching Fire opens. Perhaps that’s where the Avengers-effect will really come into play: with no competition to speak of, The Dark World has the chance to realize one of the best sophomore holds in Marvel history.

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