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'Thor: The Dark World' Box Office: $100 Million Weekend Not Likely

'Thor: The Dark World' box office: 'The Avengers' bump to lead to $100 million weekend debut? Not likely (Image: Chris Hemsworth in 'Thor: The Dark World')

Thor: The Dark World opened with an estimated $7.1 million from Thursday evening, November 7, 2013, and Friday midnight shows at 3,841 North American theaters – more than 3,100 of those offering the Thor sequel in 3D. Directed by Alan Taylor, and starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, and Tom Hiddleston, Thor: The Dark World far surpassed its Kenneth Branagh-directed predecessor at the domestic box office; the first film took in $3.3 million from Friday midnight screenings back in May 2011. (See also: “'Thor 2' box office: No Iron Man, Superman, Spider-Man, Batman.”)

Now, one should remember that we're comparing apples and pineapples here: the original Thor didn't have the advantage of Thursday evening shows; also, the Branagh film was initially screened at only 1,800 locations. A similar distribution set-up also applies to another 2011 Marvel release, Captain America: The First Avenger, which raked in $4 million from Friday midnight screenings.

'Thor 2': 'Iron Man' box office territory?

Based on its Thursday night box office take, early predictions have Thor: The Dark World debuting in the U.S. and Canada with $90-$95 million, or about 35 percent above the 2011 Thor's $65.72 million debut. The Avengers box office bump or no, barring a gigantic Saturday surge and modest Sunday drop, the domestic weekend debut of the latest Marvel fantasy adventure will probably fall short of the $100 million milestone.

In fact, citing early ticket sales, Variety predicts that Thor: The Dark World will collect $31 million on Friday, including the aforementioned $7.1 million from Thursday evening shows. And that would translate into approximately $80-$85 million by Sunday evening. (Variety has that figure pegged at $83 million.) Official Friday box office estimates will be released on Saturday morning.

Now, even if Thor: The Dark World manages to gross more than $90 million domestically on its debut weekend, comparisons to Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man 2008 are absurd: that Jon Favreau-directed film, which collected $98.61 million in early May 2011, wasn't a sequel, wasn't in 3D (i.e., no box-office-inflating 3D surcharges), and it would have earned about $110 million in 2013 dollars.

Something else Iron Man 2008 lacked: Captain America: The Winter Soldier extended previews, which are being shown at Thor: The Dark World 3D venues. Starring Chris Evans, the Captain America sequel opens in April 2014.

'Thor: The Dark World' international box office: $150 million milestone passed

Thor: The Dark World opens in China today. But even without the largest movie market outside the United States, the Thor sequel has already passed the $150 million milestone at the international box office. To date, the Chris Hemsworth film's total is an astounding $152.8 million after only nine days.

Thor 2011 cumed at $181.03 million in North America and $268.29 million internationally, for a worldwide total of $449.32 million according to figures found at Box Office Mojo.

'Thor: The Dark World' cast

Besides Chris Hemsworth, Best Actress Academy Award winner Natalie Portman (Black Swan), and scene-stealer Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Thor: The Dark World features Best Actor Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of the Lambs), Christopher Eccleston, Zachary Levi, Jamie Alexander, Ray Stevenson, Tadanobu Asano, Idris Elba, Stellan Skarsgård, Rene Russo, Kat Dennings, Alice Krige, Clive Russell, Jonathan Howard, and Chris O'Dowd, in addition to cameos by Chris Evans and Benicio Del Toro.

Prior to Thor: The Dark World, Alan Taylor's previous feature, Kill the Poor, was released a decade ago. Since then, Taylor has been busy on television (Game of Thrones, The Sopranos, Nurse Jackie, Mad Men). Next in line for him is a remake of James Cameron's The Terminator (now shortened to simply Terminator).

Thor 2's credited screenwriters are Captain America: The First Avenger and Captain America: The Winter Soldier writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, and Christopher Yost (of the TV series The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, Iron Man: Armored Adventures). The “story” is credited to Don Payne and Robert Rodat.

Chris Hemsworth Thor: The Dark World photo: Marvel / Walt Disney Studios.

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