Thor: The Dark World thunders to number one
By Rich Matthews
In a turn of events that will surprise no one, Marvel/Disney's superhero sequel Thor: The Dark World hammered its way straight to the top spot at the US box office this weekend, grossing $86.1m. That's less than last year's $88m for the biggest Bond ever, Skyfall, on the same weekend.
However, the original Thor – which also starred Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman, and was directed by Kenneth Branagh – took $65m in its opening weekend in May 2011, so this represents a similar bump to the one that saw Iron Man 3 go on to gross $1.2bn this summer. This is the so-called Avengers halo effect, where Marvel's biggest success – to the tune of $1.5bn and the third-biggest film of all time behind Titanic and Avatar – is hoped to boost the individual Marvel hero's movie outings.
Directed by Game Of Thrones veteran Alan Taylor, The Dark World has already soared to a global total of $327m, thanks to an early international release. Seeing as the first Thor took $449.3m in total, TDW is tracking a whopping 90% ahead of the original – it won't hit Iron Man 3 or Avengers numbers, but it now looks likely that the sequel could easily reach $600m worldwide, putting Thor in the same ballpark as Man Of Steel.
The biggest test of The Avengers effect so far will be next summer's Captain America: The Winter Soldier, with Captain America the lowest performer of the recent glut of Avengers-related heroes. While we don't normally go into demographics in very much depth, two things are noteworthy for The Dark World – there was a higher female turnout (48% of the audience) than normal for this type of film, which helped boost the couple quotient to 62%; and Saturday was marginally bigger than the Friday, which goes against the grain for what would traditionally be a fanboy-driven flick. Both of these factors indicate a cross into the mainstream that could truly take Marvel to even higher success.
Outside of Thor's dominance, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa held strong at number two to take $11.3m and build its total to $78.7m and $100.9m worldwide. Close behind, Thanksgiving-themed CGI turkey comedy Free Birds gobbled up $11.3m to take its tally to $30.2m, while geriatric Hangover Last Vegas – starring Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline – was also hot on their heels with $11.1m and a domestic gross of $33.5m. Rounding out the top five was another old timer, Harrison Ford, in Ender's Game, which took $10.3m for a US tally of $44m and a worldwide gross of $53.1m.
Two limited releases expanded and were able to crack the latter half of the top 10, with Steve McQueen's acclaimed slavery drama 12 Years A Slave taking $6.6m to land at number seven and a total of $17.3m, and, less successfully, Richard Curtis's time travel comedy About Time, starring Rachel McAdams, got to number nine and a low $5.2m for a US gross of $6.7m. Luckily for the Working Title/Universal film, it already has a worldwide gross of $44.9m.
The remainder of the top 10 sees Sandra Bullock/George Clooney space drama Gravity from Alfonso Cuaron at number six ($8.4m, £231m US, $472.2m global), Tom Hanks piracy thriller Captain Phillips from Paul Greengrass at number eight ($5.8m, $91m, $134.4m) and Sony sequel Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 at 10 ($2.8m, $110m, $180.3m).
Next week is free for Thor to bolster his Asgardian coffers, with only mid-range release The Best Man Holiday with Taye Digs and Terence Howard opening in 2,000 theatres, before mega-sequel The Hunger Games: Catching Fire goes toe-to-toe with buzzy sperm donor Vince Vaughn comedy Delivery Man on November 22.
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