Weekend Box Office – THOR Dominates with $66 Million Opening

     May 8, 2011

thor movie image slice

The mighty, mighty Thor brought his blondeness to a theatre near you this weekend: earning an estimated $66 million from 3,955 locations.  That might seem kind of low for a superhero movie destined to lead off the summer season but, actually, it was right about where the God of Thunder was expected to land… being a “lesser superhero” and all.

Title Weekend Total
1 Thor $66,000,000 $66
2 Fast Five $32,500,000 $139.9
3 Jumping the Broom $13,700,000 $13.7
4 Something Borrowed $13,200,000 $13.2
5 Rio $9,500,000 $116.2
6 Water for Elephants $5,700,000 $41.7
7 Madea’s Big Happy Family $3,800,000 $46.7
8 Prom $2,500,000 $7.9
9 Hoodwinked Too! $2,200,000 $7
10 Soul Surfer $2,100,000 $36.7

Thor_movie_posterAlthough Thor was undoubtedly one of 2011’s most anticipated releases, I got the feeling that many people “anticipated” seeing if it would fail.  After all, there were many more question marks with this Marvel adaptation than there have been in the past.  Like, would a super-Arian looking God make a relatable superhero?  Would director Kenneth Branagh take all the fun out of this big-budget popcorn flick?  And, after last week, would the fact that Fast Five was first out of the summer movie gate spell trouble for his God-liness?

There are a couple different ways to spin these numbers. On the positive side, Thor is looking pretty audience friendly.  He has a current Rotten Tomato score of 78% which is well above the 61% that The Incredible Hulk rated in 2008 and even a bit better than the 74% that Iron Man 2 rated this time last year.  So that’s good.  Also good is the more than $242 million that Thor has earned overseas since its global roll-out over a week ago.  So even with his price tag of $150 million (not including marketing) Thor is going to do what he was supposed to: make money while preparing the way for the Avengers in 2012.

Here is where Thor looks a little less impressive: when you compare his first weekend numbers to just about any comparable title.  Sure, Thor’s $66 million domestic debut was higher than the $55.4 million that The Incredible Hulk made in 2008 but his attendance was lower and, in any case, is that truly the bar that the studio wanted to hurtle?  Plus, that second Hulk did not see release until mid-June.  It was Iron Man who led off the super-hero stuffed summer of ’08 with $98.6 million.  In fact, Thor has the lowest first place total of any film opening on this weekend since 2006 when Mission: Impossible 3 made $47.7 million.  Add to that the fact that Thor, unlike any of the big May titles of the past, was screened in 3D at 60% of his locations, and the comic book God is looking like more of a movie mortal all the time.

Of course, there is no telling how different things would have been for Thor had Universal not pulled off their big heist of the summer movie season with Fast Five last weekend.  After that record-breaking start, the action movie fell by an estimated 62% in its second weekend due, partially, to the fact that it lost many of its highest profile screens to Thor.  Even so, Fast Five has already earned enough in ten days to become 2011’s highest-grossing release by a comfortable margin.  Enjoy that one while it lasts.

Two romantic comedies were offered as counter-programming to Thor this weekend: Something Borrowed and Jumping the Broom.  The higher-profile Borrowed (with stars like Kate Hudson and John Krasinski in its cast) earned an estimated $13.2 million.  That was about where the Alcon/WB release was expected to land on this male-skewing weekend, though it should be noted that Matthew McConaughey’s Ghosts of Girlfriends Past managed to top $15 million on this same frame back in 2009.  In fact, Jumping the Broom ended up looking a lot more impressive.  Not only did its estimate of $13.7 million edge out its rom-com competition, it did so on far fewer screens – 2,034 to Borrowed’s 2,904.

Overall, this weekend’s box office was down 10% over 2010 when Iron Man 2 led off with $128.1 million.  That means that next weekend should also be down: considering that Thor is expected to repeat at the top (though with a traditional 50% decline in grosses).  Thor’s only direct competition will come from Priest, the 3D action/fantasy film which, so far, doesn’t seem to have the critics in its corner. We’ll see what happens.


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