Thor Hammers Summer Box Office Start
By John Hamann
May 8, 2011
Multipliers on super-hero flicks are often lower than usual due to the fanboy effect, as fans of the comics rush out to see the films on Friday, frontloading it and thus lowering the multiplier. The solid multiplier here might be a response to the positive critical reception, which could translate into word-of-mouth. At RottenTomatoes, a massive 196 reviews were counted, and of those a stellar 155 were positive, giving Thor a fresh rating of 79%, but "top critics' were not as enamoured, with rating coming in at 65%. Richard Roeper called it “the most entertaining Superhero debut since the original Spider-Man”, and gave it an A. Cinemascore was just as kind, giving it a B+ from early returns. This is the reception Thor needed to keep the momentum going for The Avengers movie that's due in 2012, over the first weekend in May. The Avengers will combine the likes of Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America, Hawkeye, Thor and more, and will look to at least beat Spider-Man's former record of $114.8 million over a marvel-ous weekend.
Before Thor even opened on North American shores, he was already a star overseas. The Norse God had already pulled in $125 million from overseas theaters before a cell of Thor was shown over here. Similar to films like Brad Pitt's Troy and Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven, Thor was made with an international audience in mind. Casting consisted of names familiar worldwide, like Natalie Portman, Stellan Skaarsgard and Anthony Hopkins, and the director, Kenneth Branagh, who was last seen co-starring in Tom Cruise's Valkyrie, which earned more overseas than it did in North America. The star, newcomer Chris Hemsworth, is Australian, and the world premiere took place in Sydney. Thor has to be considered a very large success for both Marvel and Paramount, as this one carried more risk in a lesser-known character, but the studios didn't scrimp on production costs, putting up $150 million for Thor.
Finishing second is Fast Five, last weekend's breakout success after opening to an amount even greater than the mighty Thor. After opening to $86.2 million domestically, it was to be no surprise that the carpet was going to be pulled from under it, as Fast Five not only had Thor to deal with, it also had a reputation as a one-and-done franchise, a la Tyler Perry or the Saw films. Considering what it was up against, Fast Five did okay. Fast Five earned $32.5 million and was off an expected 62%. The last film in the series, Fast & Furious, fell 62% after opening to $71 million, but didn't have a Thor-type film to face off against. Fast & Furious opened in the first weekend of April, and competed only with Hannah Montana in its second frame, and still had the massive drop. The third film, Tokyo Drift, debuted to only $24 million, but still dropped 59%. 2 Fast 2 Furious fell 63%, and the original fell 50% in its second frame (it's a little bit amazing that this is the fifth film, and the series has never seen a second weekend drop better than 50%). Fast Five has now earned a massive $139.9 million domestically after only 10 days (Fast & Furious earned $116.5 million in 10 days). While good, this one cost $125-$150 million to make, so the $111 million it's earned overseas will help pad Universal's books as well.