Here are your three-day box office returns (new releases bolded):
1. Thor: The Dark World - $86.1 million
2. Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa - $11.3 million
3. Free Birds - $11.18 million
4. Last Vegas - $11.10 million
5. Ender's Game - $10.2 million
6. Gravity - $8.4 million
7. 12 Years a Slave - $6.6 million
8. Captain Phillips - $5.8 million
9. About Time - $5.1 million
10. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 - $2.8 million
The Big Stories
Anyone writing that Thor was a disappointment at the box office this weekend is crazy. Honestly, the only people who should be disappointed with the numbers that Thor Deux put up are those who estimated it was headed for mid-90s territory. Anyone who actually saw the film has every right to be disappointed. Even angry and should demand their portion of its $86 million back. It may not be as bad as your Fantastic Fours and Ghost Riders, but it is down there in the company of the bottom third of Marvel film product. That being the optimum word, of course: product. Cause that’s what we got. A ride on the post-Avengers train to bridge in the next wave and Marvel is laughing all the way to the bank.
Thor: The Not-So-Dark Truth
The grosses of the first Thor film, with little more than the knowledge of his appearance in an Incredible Hulk TV film and the Adventures in Babysitting mythos for most people, should have been expected to not line up with Marvel’s more popular superheroes. Sure that was more visual acuity than Iron Man had over the years, but that also had the newfound appeal of Robert Downey Jr. for audiences while Chris Hemsworth’s big role was as a red herring in A Perfect Getaway and a supporting role in a shelf-sitting Joss Whedon coscripted horror film. It still opened the summer of 2011 with $65.7 million and went on to gross $181 million. (That was a bit more than what Captain America would cook up a couple months later.) Thor has a better advantage now. Not one, but two big-screen appearances under the hammer. How does his first direct sequel compare to others in the comic film world?
The Dark Knight (+224.9%), Blade II (+90.5%), X2: X-Men United (+57.0%), Hellboy II: The Golden Army (+49.0%), Thor: The Dark World (+31.0%), Iron Man 2 (+29.9%), Batman Returns (+12.8%), Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (+3.5%)
Ghost Rider, The Punisher and Kick-Ass all took drops with their sequels. Then again, people barely knew their sequels were even coming out. Spider-Man 2 did not open as big as its predecessor but that was more Sony’s error in going for the July 4 holiday rather than being the summer kickoff of 2004. It opened to $26 million less and still came within $34 million of the original’s final gross. Thor and the Lame Elves are going to eclipse the $181 million from the first go-round. (X-Men Origins: Wolverine is the only film to open with $80+ million and not hit $200.) It is the 11th Marvel feature to start with over $80 million. The others all bare the mark of Spider-Man, Iron Man, X-Men or The Avengers. That’s not bad. Add in another $240 million overseas, the sequel will easily eclipse the $449 million worldwide gross of the original. As for the whole Avengers bump Thor was supposed to get, a 24.8% increase compared to Iron Man 3’s 35.9% is not too shabby either. We’ll see just how much love there really is for Captain America when The Winter Soldier opens off-peak in April, brought to you by the directors of You, Me and Dupree.
An Ender by Any Other Name
Ender’s Game took a steep decline this week. As expected, Thor cut deep into its numbers dropping it 62% and back to fifth place while adult comedies and kids fare held a bit better and should continue to do so next week as nothing opens wide except The Best Man Holiday. Ender’s total now stands at just under $44 million and is going to struggle to hit $70. Bad Grandpa had no problem making that tally and has held so well it even has a shot at reaching $100 million as does Sony’s Captain Phillips. Last Vegas and Free Birds will likely hit that combined, holding well enough to knock Ender back. Meanwhile, 12 Years a Slave continues to increase its screen count and slowly draw in a bigger audience. Its tally stands at over $17 million.
Support Your Overseas Rom-Com
Finally, Universal doesn’t seem to know how to sell people on a time-traveling romance. Even when it costars The Time Traveler’s Wife herself, Rachel McAdams. Domhnall Gleason may not slide off the tongue but letting Richard Curtis’ About Time limp its way from a 175-theater limited release to a 1,200-theater semilimited release is not helping to get word of mouth out there yet. Love Actually started on just 576 screens back in 2003 and grossed $6.8 million. On nearly 1,200 screens the following week it grabbed almost $8.7 million with its large cast. It played pretty consistently on less than 1,750 screens its first month before grabbing its final $16 of its $59 million. Unless About Time is discovered soon, $16 million may be what it is looking at total.
Erik Childress can be seen each Thursday morning on WCIU-TV's First Business breaking down the box office on the Movies & Money segment.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]
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