By Tim Briody
November 12, 2017
Thor easily takes a second weekend as we prepare for the Marvel vs. DC battle next weekend, but a comedy sequel and ambitious update of a classic keep the box office interesting.
While next weekend DC, still riding high from the success of Wonder Woman, releases their version of The Avengers in the form of Justice League, it’ll still have some interesting competition in the form of Thor: Ragnarok. Or at least we’ll see how much direct competition really does affect a movie that’s already been in theaters and earned $211 million in two weekends. Ragnarok earned $56.6 million this weekend, down 54% from its opening weekend. While the total at this point feels somewhat paltry compared to the grosses of some of the other Marvel movies, Ragnarok has already surpassed the first Thor ($181 million in 2011) and The Dark World ($206.3 million in 2013) domestically. That’s stunning and shows the power of strong reviews (compared to the first two) and the importance of not taking itself so seriously.
Next weekend is the closest we’re probably ever going to get to a Marvel film and DC film going head to head, so I think it’ll be interesting to see how this affects Ragnarok’s third weekend. Unless the wheels fall completely off, Thor’s a lock for $300 million and beyond, another day at the office for Marvel but a figure Justice League would be ridiculously happy with.
We actually have some exciting news beyond the top movie at the box office, a remarkably close race among the two openers this weekend. Second place goes to Daddy’s Home 2, the sequel to the 2015 comedy that earned $150 million over the Christmas season. While the ending of the first movie clearly set up a sequel if it was a hit, it also benefited from the holiday box office boost, which made the November launch for the sequel an iffy proposition. It appears to have paid off so far as Daddy’s Home 2 earned an estimated $30 million on the weekend (though I’m sure there’s some creative accounting involved).
Daddy’s Home 2 brought back the team of Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, along with adding their fathers in the forms of John Lithgow and Mel Gibson, and also with John Cena and Linda Cardellini. Despite atrocious reviews, there was a tremendous amount of goodwill involved and a little bit of star power thrown in, and thus you have a really strong opening weekend here. I don’t give it much of a chance to hold that well. Daddy’s Home opened on Christmas Day to $15.7 million and by the end of its second weekend had $93.8 million total. That absolutely won’t be the case here.
Third place goes to our other opener, an adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express. Directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh, along with an A-list cast (including Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Daisy Ridley and Leslie Odom, Jr.), the drama earned an estimated $28.2 million, coming in well ahead of most projections. The first theatrical adaptation of the novel since 1974, audiences were not dissuaded by the middling reviews (only 58% at Rotten Tomatoes), and likely benefited from older moviegoers for whom Daddy’s Home was too crude and Ragnarok was too loud. As opposed to Daddy’s Home 2, Murder on the Orient Express could potentially hold well over the next few weeks as an alternative to the superhero movies. Either way, it’s already pretty close to its reported $55 million budget so this is likely a win for Fox.