Sunday Update: Disney's Thor: The Dark World had a successful start this weekend with an estimated first place take of $86.11 million. The Marvel superhero sequel starring Chris Hemsworth debuted in line with expectations, which ranged anywhere from $80 million to $100 million heading into the weekend. Thor: The Dark World opened 31 percent stronger than the $65.72 million start of 2011's Thor; an increase which was no doubt due in part to the ongoing goodwill from last year's Marvel's The Avengers. Thor: The Dark World debuted just below the $88.36 million start of Skyfall last November (which grossed $90.56 million when counting early Thursday shows). Without adjusting for ticket price inflation, Thor: The Dark World delivered the ninth largest opening weekend on record for the month of November. The film registered the fourth largest opening weekend of 2013 to date (behind only Iron Man 3, Man of Steel and Fast & Furious 6).
Thor: The Dark World did experience a bit of a roller coaster ride throughout the weekend. After a healthy $7.1 million late night Thursday start, the film didn't have the greatest expansion on Friday as it grossed $31.63 million as a whole on its opening day (including Thursday night grosses). But the film then held up extremely well on Saturday to gross $31.66 million. Strong early word of mouth, appeal with family audiences and the Veterans Day holiday falling on Monday all contributed to the film's Saturday hold. Thor: The Dark World is estimated to fall 28 percent on Sunday to gross $22.82 million. The film generated an estimated opening weekend to Friday ratio of 2.72 to 1, which is very strong for a film with a sizable Thursday night start.
With only one new wide release scheduled for next weekend (Universal's The Best Man Holiday), Thor: The Dark World could hold up relatively well next weekend. Though obviously, competition will become much fiercer the following weekend when Lionsgate's The Hunger Games: Catching Fire enters the marketplace.
Thor: The Dark World received an A- rating on CinemaScore (which was slightly better than the B+ rating Thor received on CinemaScore). The audience breakdown for the film skewed heavily towards male moviegoers (62 percent) and moviegoers over 25 (61 percent). Couples accounted for 62 percent of the film's audience, while families made up 21 percent. Thor: The Dark World grossed $5.3 million from IMAX locations, which accounted for 6.2 percent of the film's overall gross this weekend.
It was a very tight three-way race for second place this weekend between Paramount's Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, Relativity' s Free Birds and CBS Films' Last Vegas . Bad Grandpa currently has the edge for second place with an estimated $11.3 million, while Free Birds and Last Vegas followed closely behind with $11.18 million and $11.10 million respectively. It is close enough between the three films that the order could still change between now and tomorrow when actual grosses are released.
All three films held up well this weekend, especially when factoring in the added presence of Thor: The Dark World in the marketplace. Bad Grandpa was down 44 percent, Free Birds fell just 29 percent and Last Vegas was down a healthy 32 percent. Respective total grosses stand at $78.75 million for Bad Grandpa in 17 days, at $33.53 million for Last Vegas in ten days and at $30.196 million for Free Birds in ten days. All three films will hope to continue to hold up well next weekend, especially with only one new wide release entering the marketplace.
The news wasn't anywhere as good for Lionsgate's Ender's Game. Last weekend's top film was down four spots and a sharp 62 percent to land in fifth with an estimated $10.25 million. Clearly, Ender's Game took a big hit from the arrival of Thor: The Dark World, which had been widely expected. Ender's Game has grossed $44.00 million in ten days, which places the film 5 percent behind the $46.10 million ten-day start of After Earth earlier this year.
In its first weekend of wide release, Fox Searchlight's 12 Years a Slave grossed an estimated $6.6 million to place in seventh. After a very strong hold last weekend, the awards season hopeful increased a more modest 38 percent this weekend upon expanding into an additional 734 locations. 12 Years a Slave earned a per-location average of $5,769 from 1,144 locations for the frame. The 24-day start for 12 Years a Slave stands at a very solid $17.35 million.
Meanwhile, Universal's About Time placed in ninth in its first weekend of wide release with an estimated $5.17 million. That represented a 381 percent increase over last weekend's limited start (when the film was playing in just 175 locations). For the frame, About Time earned a per-location average of $4,310 from 1,200 locations. About Time has grossed a so-so $6.69 million in its first ten days of release, but will hope to hold up well going forward. The audience breakdown for the film skewed heavily towards female moviegoers (71 percent) and towards moviegoers 40 and older (56 percent).
Saturday Update: Disney reports that Thor: The Dark World earned $31.633 million on Friday, including Thursday night's $7.1 million haul. BoxOffice is projecting the Marvel sequel to land around $81 million for the weekend as Saturday business is sure to be strong for matinee-friendly family audiences.
The Dark World's opening day marks a 24 percent improvement on Thor's $25.5 million back in 2011, also representing the same increase in the sequel's audience size due to current ticket prices being relatively the same as they were then. For comparison, Iron Man 3's first day was 54 percent higher than The Dark World, 34 percent over Iron Man 2's first day, and sold approximately 20 percent more tickets than Iron Man 2.
Online activity across Twitter, Flixster, and Facebook had consistently been pointing to a larger bow for the Asgardian flick, although Disney itself noted on Wednesday that they were expecting a debut weekend in the $80 million range. Word of mouth appears healthy thus far with 86 percent of Flixster users having enjoyed or still anticipating seeing the movie. Reception will be key for the film's chances at hitting $200 million domestically as The Hunger Games: Catching Fire prepares for what is expected to be a big run starting on November 22.
Friday Update #2: Thor: The Dark World looks to be on pace for $88 million based on early Friday grosses. A surge this evening is likely, and the sequel could end up with more than $90 million if everything goes well.
Thor: The Dark World is the latest effort to benefit from the success of The Avengers. An opening of $88 million would represent a 34% increase over the $65.7 million debut of 2011's Thor.
The first two weekends of release are crucial for The Dark World because the release of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire on November 22 will definitely hinder it.
Check back tomorrow morning for official studio estimates and updated projections.
Friday Update: Disney reports that Thor: The Dark World took in $7.1 million from Thursday evening shows.
That's a very healthy start for the sequel. To put it into perspective, Iron Man 3 made $15.6 million from Thursday shows on its way to a $174 million debut frame this past May. It's clear that Thor: The Dark World will end up shattering expectations this weekend on its way to improving upon the $65.7 million debut of 2011's Thor.
Word of mouth is healthy at this early stage. Nearly 140,000 Flixster users have combined to give the sequel an impressive 86% approval rating.
Thursday Update: Fandango reports that Thor: The Dark World accounts for a staggering 85% of Fandango's weekend advance ticket sales. The sequel's sales are on par with Fast & Furious 6 at the same point in the release cycle.
A survey of ticket buyers revealed the following:
- 81% identify themselves as "Chris Hemsworth fans"
- 72% say their fond memories of The Avengers influenced their decision to see the movie
- 67% claim that Tom Hiddleston as "Loki" is critical to their enjoyment of the Thor saga
BoxOffice.com currently forecasts a $97 million debut for Thor: The Dark World.
By Shawn Robbins
Henceforth, let 2015 simply be known as The Year of Disney (if it wasn't already).
373 days since last year's blockbuster announcement that the Mouse House would move forward on a new Star Wars movie as part of their $4 billion acquisition of Lucasfilm, we now know *when* the world will see it: Friday, December 18, 2015.
The writing was pretty much on the wall when Disney CEO Bob Iger reaffirmed the film wouldn't be pushed to 2016, despite Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy's request to do so in the wake of Abrams and The Empire Strikes Back scribe Lawrence Kasdan taking over writing duties from Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3, Little Miss Sunshine). We knew then that any chance of a Summer 2015 opening was officially gone.
When looking at how crowded that year is, and considering the potential of a leggy run through early 2016, that's a very good thing.
Episode VII will mark the first movie in the franchise to open in a month other than May. It does, however, hold up the series' tradition of opening one week before a major holiday. Whereas George Lucas debuted his six films prior to Memorial Day, the next era of Star Wars has staked its claim for the highly lucrative Christmas moviegoing season.
While fan debate can now shift focus to casting rumors before filming begins in early 2014, what can we start expecting in terms of Episode VII's box office potential?
Let's address the elephant in the room: a potential opening weekend record has to be considered. Historically, though, December isn't known for delivering all-time records. The last six opening crowns belong to summer releases, with November 2001's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone representing the only non-summer film to ever own it. Conversely, the current December record belongs to last year's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and its $84.6 million--a figure which we imagine Star Wars should have little trouble surpassing (that is, if The Hobbit retains that particular trophy for two more years).
Nearing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II's midnight record ($43.5 million) could be on the table as well. That film had the benefit of a mid-July debut when kids are out of school, but that was before the current trend of midnight Friday launches being axed in favor of 8pm Thursday openings.
Of course, Star Wars isn't Disney's only mega-tentpole in 2015. The Avengers: Age of Ultron is still set for release on May 1 that year, and you can safely bet it will be gunning for its predecessor's standing record launch of $207,438,708. They also have a reimagining of Cinderella set for March, Pixar's Inside Out in June, Marvel's Ant-Man in July, and Pixar's The Good Dinosaur in November.
Expectations will naturally reach absurdly high levels for both anticipated films, but the opening weekend title is something both Star Wars and Avengers are capable of reaching again. For the record, no studio has ever broken the all-time standard twice in one year.
Guessing at domestic and overseas grosses at this point is even more of a roll of the dice. The response to the film will factor heavily, but with that caveat in mind, it's hard to imagine Episode VII not being a strong candidate for $450-500 million or more domestically.
Could it also become the first film not directed by James Cameron to gross $1 billion overseas? Prior to The Phantom Menace's 3D re-release, no Star Wars flick had crossed that mark globally--however, no Star Wars flick has released in the modern era of 3D, IMAX saturation, and market expansion from countries like China and Russia, among others. With the might of Disney's marketing muscle behind it, a well-received movie could translate into a historic winter at the box office.
Records aside, Star Wars will continue to wreak havoc on the release schedule. Studios were avoiding the Memorial Day 2015 slot (now taken by Disney's own Tomorrowland) not just because of the Avengers sequel kicking off the month, but because most of the world presumed that's where Episode VII would land. With a December 18 bow on the books, it's only a matter of time before Universal moves their planned Warcraft film. The video game adaptation from director Duncan Jones had previously chosen the same date just over a month ago. Unless production speeds up, or wiser minds don't prevail, look for that flick to soon be delayed (again) to 2016.
Also scheduled for that December are Alvin and the Chipmunks 4 (December 11) and Kung Fu Panda 3 (December 23), both of which are likely to move as Fox (who are distributing both animated sequels) will want to avoid the crossover with Star Wars between family and kiddie audiences. December 18's Inferno and December 23's Live By Night should be relatively unaffected by today's news, serving as holiday counter-programming for older crowds.
Those possible moves could only scratch the surface of studio shuffling. For all we know, Disney itself may even ponder moving one or two of their planned 2015 movies.
Ultimately, there's plenty of time to speculate and a lot more hurdles to climb before we know what J.J. Abrams' Star Wars will look like. But after a long year of waiting, patient (and impatient) fans, alongside the entire movie industry, can finally pencil in a date on their calendars.
Discuss this story on the BoxOffice Forums