Shirtless Chris Hemsworth or no, 'Thor' behind previous Marvel superheroes
May 9, '11, update: Directed by Kenneth Branagh (he of Henry V and Hamlet), and starring a – however briefly – shirtless Chris Hemsworth, in addition to Anthony Hopkins, Natalie Portman, and Tom Hiddleston, over the Mother's Day weekend (May 6–8, '11) Thor grossed $65.72 million at 3,955 U.S. and Canadian theaters. Last week, pundits had been predicting a $70 million debut.
With the assistance of higher ticket prices at 2,737 3D and 214 IMAX houses – which comprise 60 percent of Thor's domestic weekend business – the Marvel superhero's per-theater average was $16,688.
For comparison's sake: Justin Lin's Fast Five, without the advantage of costlier 3D tickets (though, admittedly, it's a sequel), opened last weekend with $86.2 million, averaging $23,655 per theaters.
Behind 'Iron Man,' 'Spider-Man' et al.
As for Hollywood's Marvel non-sequels, ultimately Thor sold fewer tickets than the original Spider-Man, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Iron Man, and The Incredible Hulk. (See more detailed comparisons further below.) On the positive side, the Kenneth Branagh-Chris Hemsworth collaboration was at least ahead of Daredevil and Ghost Rider.
Also looking on the sunny side of Asgard: Natalie Portman now has her third 2011 box office hit, following Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan (which opened in late 2010) and Ivan Reitman's No Strings Attached.
Far behind 'Fast Five' at international box office
On the international front, Thor lagged far behind Justin Li's action pentaquel Fast Five: an estimated $46 million for Thor in 60 territories (down about 50 percent from its first weekend) vs. an estimated $86.6 million for Fast Five, which has expanded into a total of 58 territories.*
Among Thor's top international markets were Brazil, France, the U.K., and China, where the Marvel superhero hammered his way with $2.9 million. Among the top Fast Five markets were France, Mexico, Italy, Germany, Brazil, and Russia.
Thor's worldwide cume is an estimated $242 million. Official budget: $150 million, not including marketing and distribution costs.
* International weekend box office figures frequently include Thursday and, at times, Wednesday showings as well.
'Fast Five' slows down
At no. 2 in North America, Fast Five, much like Fast & Furious two years ago, was down 62 percent on its second weekend. Having lost to Thor about 90 percent of its IMAX venues surely didn't help matters any.
Total after 10 days: $139.9 million, which makes the brainless actioner the biggest domestic box office hit of the year, leading Rango, Rio, Hop, and Adam Sandler's multi-word titled Just Go with It.
Fast Five budget: $125 million (official); $170 million (unofficial). Worldwide gross: $324.65 million, after providing distributor Universal Pictures with a record-breaking – if you choose to ignore inflation/currency fluctuations – international opening weekend.
Starring Naomi Watts, Peter Jackson's King Kong (2005) was the previous record holder for the studio, with $84.3 million.
Worldwide, Rio remains the biggest hit of the year, with an estimated cume of $407.2 million.
'Jumping the Broom' beats estimates & 'Something Borrowed'
As we've seen, despite the lust appeal of a shirtless Chris Hemsworth, Thor scored $5 million less than last week's predictions. On the bright side, several movies on the domestic Top Twelve box office chart – irrespective of their stars' state of dress or undress – surpassed (Sunday) estimates, most notably Salim Akil's comedy Jumping the Broom.
Debuting at no. 3, Jumping the Broom collected $15.21 million from 2,035 theaters. That's about $1.2 million above Sunday estimates and about $2 million above Friday's (unofficial) early estimates. Budget (not including prints & advertising): $6.5 million.
According to Deadline.com, as part of the film's promotion Jumping the Broom distributor Sony Pictures “worked with TLC on special wedding programming with one bride and groom winning a trip to the premiere where they were to be married on the Red Carpet by [the Christian pastor known as] Bishop [T.D.] Jakes” – who also happens to be one of the film's producers.
Now, let's discuss the sanctity of that great institution known as (heterosexual) marriage. Well, but then again maybe we shouldn't.
In the Jumping the Broom cast: Angela Bassett, Paula Patton, Loretta Devine (who has two movies among the Top Ten; see Madea's Big Happy Family further below), Laz Alonso, and Mike Epps.
'Something Borrowed' has modest debut
Opening at no. 4, the Alcon Entertainment-produced, Warner Bros.-released romantic comedy Something Borrowed brought in $13.94 million at 2,904 locations.
That's $800,000 above Sunday's estimate, even though a disastrous 3 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes' top critics surely was no major incentive to moviegoers. Cost: $35 million.
Something Borrowed was directed by Luke Greenfield. In the cast: Kate Hudson, Ginnifer Goodwin, Colin Egglesfield, and John Krasinski.
'Water for Elephants' & 'Soul Surfer' have modest drops
At no. 5, Carlos Saldanha's Rio pulled in $8.5 million, or $200,000 above expectations. Domestic total: $114.9 million. Worldwide: $407.2 million. Cost: $90 million. The voice cast includes Anne Hathaway and Jesse Eisenberg.
With $6.06 million at no. 6, Francis Lawrence's romantic circus drama Water for Elephants raked in $400,000 more than estimated. Domestic total: $41.1 million. Worldwide: $62.91 million. Cost: $38 million. In the cast: Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson, Christoph Waltz, and Hal Holbrook.
At no. 7, the Tyler Perry-directed Madea's Big Happy Family earned $4.17 million (down nearly 60 percent after losing 400 sites). That's $200,000 above the studio's estimate. Domestic total: $46.8 million. Cost: $25 million. Besides Perry, the cast includes Isaiah Mustafa, Bow Wow, and Jumping the Broom actress Loretta Devine.
At no. 8, Sean McNamara's Soul Surfer scored $2.3 million – $200,000 more than expected. Domestic total: $36.67 million. Cost: $18 million. In the cast: AnnaSophia Robb, Carrie Underwood, Dennis Quaid, and Best Actress Oscar winner Helen Hunt (As Good As It Gets, 1997).
Water for Elephants and Soul Surfer were the only two movies on the weekend's Top Twelve chart to post drop-off rates below 40 percent.
Bottom of the Top Twelve
Rounding out the Top Twelve at the North American box office were:
- Prom with $2.21 million.
Cast: Aimee Teegarden. Thomas McDonell.
- Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil with $2.04 million.
Voice cast: Glenn Close. Hayden Panettiere.
- Insidious with $1.33 million (down 51 percent after losing nearly 600 sites). Domestic total: $50.3 million. Cost: $1.5 million (in addition to $20 million or whereabouts in marketing expenses).
Cast: Patrick Wilson. Rose Byrne. Barbara Hershey.
- Source Code with $1.24 million (down 51 percent after losing 715 sites). Domestic total: $50.9 million. Worldwide: $91.73 million. Cost: $32 million.
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal. Michelle Monaghan.
'Scream 4' silenced
Gone from the Top Twelve were:
- Wes Craven's Scream 4, featuring Courteney Cox.
- Alastair Fothergill-Keith Scholey's African Cats.
- The Cate Blanchett-Saoirse Ronan thriller Hanna.
Among the Top Twelve movies, Thor had the highest (3D/IMAX-inflated) per-theater average: $16,618. Prom had the lowest: $811.
Also among the Top Twelve (barring newcomers Thor, Something Borrowed, and Jumping the Broom), Fast Five posted the highest weekend-to-weekend drop-off rate, down the aforementioned 62 percent. Soul Surfer posted the lowest, down 31 percent.
Jodie Foster-Mel Gibson drama 'The Beaver' flops
Directed by two-time Best Actress Academy Award winner Jodie Foster (The Accused, 1988; The Silence of the Lambs, 1991), starring two-time Academy Award winner Mel Gibson (director and co-producer of Best Picture winner Braveheart, 1995), and featuring Anton Yelchin and Best Actress Academy Award nominee Jennifer Lawrence (Winter's Bone, 2010), The Beaver flopped badly at the North American box office after grossing a meager $104,000 from 22 locations on its opening weekend.
The story of a man (Mel Gibson) who communicates through a hand-puppet beaver, The Beaver averaged $4,727 per venue. Although some of the film's budget has been covered by foreign pre-sales, that's hardly good news for the $21 million production.
For comparison's sake: Three weeks ago, with little publicity, no stars, and infinitely worse reviews, Paul Johansson's Atlas Shrugged: Part I opened at 299 theaters, averaging $5,640 per site.
All things being equal, the fewer the number of theaters showing a movie, the higher its per-theater average should be. In other words, things don't look at all promising for The Beaver.
$1 million domestic beyond reach?
In fact, it's unclear whether the Jodie Foster-Mel Gibson collaboration will manage to reach the $1 million mark in the U.S. and Canada, a “feat” achieved even by Robert Redford's little-seen period political drama The Conspirator on its debut weekend.
Starring Robin Wright and James McAvoy, the box office dud opened three weeks ago with $1.09 million from 707 theaters, averaging $1,556 per site.
Despite The Beaver's obvious lack of popular appeal, for the time being distributor Summit Entertainment is reportedly still planning on a May 20 expansion.
Delayed opening a miscalculation?
The Beaver had been scheduled to open in fall 2010 for awards season consideration. That's when the Mel Gibson-Oksana Grigorieva scandal got in the way; Summit announced it was shelving the film indefinitely.
As things began cooling off, Summit, which also handled Roman Polanski's tricky The Ghost Writer, let it be known that The Beaver was going to hit North American theaters in March 2011, following its world premiere at the SXSW Film Festival. The domestic debut was then postponed to early May, with a planned expansion later in the month.
Clearly, the delay did not pay off. Perhaps Summit should have stuck to the March 2011 date, while the SXSW-related publicity was still fresh in the minds of moviegoers.
Grigorieva may have conveniently dropped her domestic violence charges against Gibson days before The Beaver opened, but if that had a positive effect on the film's box office, it wasn't noticeable. Unless, of course, The Beaver was destined to become an even bigger flop.
Mel Gibson box office misfires
Last year, Mel Gibson's $80 million crime drama Edge of Darkness – his first release since Signs in 2002 – opened at 3,066 theaters with a passable $17.21 million, or $5,765 per location.
However, it was downhill from there, as Edge of Darkness cumed at only $43 million domestically. Reported international receipts were even lower – surprising for an action flick – $37 million.
Unless things change dramatically in the near future, Mel Gibson's days a box office draw are in the past.
'The Beaver' flop: Mel Gibson to blame?
Now, in the specific case of The Beaver's poor box office performance, it's unclear whether that was due to Mel Gibson's boorish off-screen antics (the Oksana Grigorieva scandal, anti-Jewish rants), or if that's just the result of moviegoers not being interested in “small” films – unless, that is, they're strategically marketed Oscar frontrunners such as The King's Speech or Black Swan.
After all, The Beaver, which received mixed reviews (67 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes' top critics), was hardly the weekend's only “small-movie” flop. See below.
'Last Night' among Mother's Day weekend bombs in limited release
Directed by two-time Best Director Oscar nominee Roland Joffé (The Killing Fields, 1984; The Mission, 1986), the psychological drama There Be Dragons, featuring Charlie Cox, West Bentley, and Dougray Scott, debuted at 259 locations with $689,000, averaging a meager $2,660 per site.
Overwhelmingly negative reviews were no help. There Be Dragons has a dismal 14 percent approval rating and 4.1/10 average among Rotten Tomatoes' top critics.
With a mediocre 50 percent approval rating, Massy Tadjedin's Last Night pulled in $32,000 at ten locations. That translates into a paltry $3,200 per theater. In the cast: Best Actress Academy Award nominee Keira Knightley (Pride & Prejudice, 2005), Avatar and Clash of the Titans actor Sam Worthington, Eva Mendes, and Guillaume Canet.
Faring even worse, Mitch Glazer's critically lambasted Passion Play, toplining Best Actor Academy Award nominees Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler, 2008) and Bill Murray (Lost in Translation, 2003), in addition to sultry Transformers leading lady Megan Fox, opened with an ungodly $2,000 at two sites.
Compared to Passion Play, Daniel and Diego Vega Vidal's October / Octubre, which debuted with $8,300 at two locations, averaging $4,150 per site, looks like a blockbuster.
'Thor' vs. previous Marvel superheroes
May 7 update: Featuring a shirtless Chris Hemsworth and a fully dressed Tom Hiddleston, Thor is expected to gross $65 million over the weekend after collecting $25.7 million on Friday (May 6), according to The Hollywood Reporter. The revised weekend estimate is about $5 million lower than earlier projections.
For comparison's sake: below are figures – including “adjusted for inflation” approximations – for the opening weekends of several (non-sequel) releases featuring Marvel superheroes.
- Starring Edward Norton, The Incredible Hulk opened with $55.41 million (approx. $61 million today) at 3,505 theaters in June 2008. It went on to gross $134 million domestically, $263 million worldwide.
- Starring Robert Downey Jr., Iron Man opened with $98.61 million (approx. $108 million today) at 4,105 theaters in early May 2008. It went on to gross $318 million domestically, $585 million worldwide.
- Starring Ioan Gruffudd, Chris Evans, and Jessica Alba, Fantastic Four debuted with $56 million (approx. $69 million today) at 3,602 theaters in July 2005. It went on to gross $154 million domestically, $330 million worldwide.
- Starring Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst, Spider-Man opened with $114.84 million (approx. $155 million today) at 3,615 theaters in early May 2002. It went on to gross $403 million domestically, $821 million worldwide. Spider-Man has led to two sequels, in addition to a reboot, The Amazing Spider-Man, to come out in 2012.
- Starring Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, and Halle Berry, X-Men collected $54.47 million (approx. $79 million today) at 3,025 theaters in July 2000. It went on to gross $157 million domestically, $296 million worldwide. X-Men has also led to four sequels, including the upcoming X-Men: First Class.
Now, bear in mind that Thor is screening at 3,955 theaters, several hundred more than most of its predecessors. That includes 2,737 3D and 214 IMAX houses – two box-office-inflating luxuries most of its predecessors lacked.
Midnight box office: 'Thor' trailing 'Fast Five'
Friday, May 6: Kenneth Branagh's Thor, toplining a (briefly) shirtless Chris Hemsworth in the title role, in addition to Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, and Tom Hiddleston, took in an estimated $3.3 million from Thursday midnight showings at 1,800 theaters in North America, according to distributor Paramount Pictures.
That's $500,000 less than what Justin Lin's Fast Five collected a week ago at about 1,100 locations.
The domestic midnight record holder remains David Slade's The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, which earned $30 million at about 4,000 theaters in June 2010. Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner star.
'Thor' vs. 'Iron Man 2'
For comparison's sake: starring Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark a.k.a. Iron Man and directed by Jon Favreau, Iron Man 2 drew in approximately $7.5 million from 2,500 locations at midnight screenings in May 2010.
That's more than twice the amount James Cameron's Avatar earned at its midnight debut at 2,000 theaters in Dec. 2009. That's also nearly $11 million less than what Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight grossed at 3,000 theaters in July 2008.
Today, American and Canadian Marvel fanboys will get the chance to admire Chris Hemsworth naked from the waist up at 3,955 theaters – including, for more detailed viewing, 2,737 3D and 214 IMAX houses.
The big-budget superhero flick is expected to end the weekend with about $70 million domestically.
Images of shirtless Chris Hemsworth in Thor: Marvel / Paramount Pictures.
Paula Patton and Angela Bassett Jumping the Broom image: TriStar / Sony Pictures.
Mel Gibson The Beaver image: Ken Regan / Summit Entertainment.
Keira Knightley Last Night image: JoJo Whilden / Tribeca Film.