Weekend Forecast for May 6-8, 2011
By Reagen Sulewski
May 6, 2011
Ironically, the first film of the official summer season has had its thunder stolen.
Thor had hoped to be the first mega-opener of the year, but after Fast Five, it'll simply have to settle for being the first comic-based franchise film to crack the $50 million mark. The first of Marvel and Paramount's two tentpole action films this summer, it's one of the films that's acting as a lead up to next year's Avengers film, which will team up Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk and some miscellaneous other heroes (calm down, nerds, you know it's true). Of the characters who are getting their own movie, Thor is arguably the most marginal and least well known. Of course, he's known in broad strokes – most people have at least a passing familiarity with the idea of the Norse god of thunder who wields a magic hammer, but to think that people also know he's also a comic book character is asking a lot of audiences.
The success of Thor, then, depends on how effective it is as portraying the fun and inherent camp of the series. A mixture of overwrought fantasy with Shakespearean dialogue and straight up ass-kicking action, Thor is unlike a lot of other comic-based movies and which may make it a tough sell. The cast is a bit of help in this manner but not dramatically so – recent Oscar winner Natalie Portman is the biggest name in the film for the bulk of it, though Anthony Hopkins is probably the most recognized name overall. Chris Hemsworth, probably best known (?) as Captain Kirk's dad in the reboot of Star Trek, plays the title character, a Norse god stripped of his powers and banished to Earth. The film then takes the form of a wacky road comedy as he attempts to regain his honor, until a villain from his home world of Asgard comes to extinguish humanity.
So yeah, it's all a bit silly, but it seems to own it. As directed by Kenneth Branagh (yes, that Kenneth Branagh) it appears to be just the right amount of over-the-top that it can win over casual comic-book movie fans, though a massive opening weekend on the lines of Spider-Man or The Dark Knight is obviously out the question. Something closer to a Hulk weekend is a lot more likely, but without the baggage of it being an iconic character that needs a massive number to be perceived as a hit.
Expectations are at least moderately high, hence the summer movie kick-off spot, and reviews are great to help it out in that way. In an unusual case, the film has already been released in several markets around the world in advance of the US release, in an attempt to reduce international piracy and give it some breathing room from Pirates 4, making over $100 million in a week. This feels like a film that's going to do a lot better in world markets than domestic, so while this is a decent sign, let's not get too excited about that number. I'd look for something more like $70 million this weekend in North America.