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'Best Man' sequel is only wide opener as biz awaits next week's 'Hunger Games' bounty

Thor: The Dark World” is set to again rule the box office as most studios sit out the sesh in anticipation of next week’s “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.”

Only Universal is essaying a wide opening, with seasonal dramedy “The Best Man Holiday” bowing 15 years after Michael D. Lee’s “The Best Man” became a cult classic in the African-American community. The U sequel is expected to land in second place, somewhere in the high teens.

Disney-Marvel’s holdover “Thor: The Dark World” bowed to $86 million last weekend and should gross in the high $30 millions, with a weekend-to-weekend drop between 55%-60%.

Internationally, “The Dark World” is pushing $275 million in just two weeks; domestic cume stands at $105 million through Wednesday.

The holiday season at the movies essentially kickstarted with “Thor” as it should play through Thanksgiving and into December, though “Hunger Games” and Disney’s animated feature “Frozen” will dominate the next few weeks at the box office.

A glut of awards-friendly holiday entries also have begun to crowd the box office.

Paramount launches Alexander Payne’s father-son road trip comedy “Nebraska” at four locations in New York and L.A.

Meanwhile, Fox expands “The Book Thief” to 29 domestic locations, up from four last weekend. “The Book Thief,” which averaged a solid $26,251 opening per-screen, looks to build word of mouth in the top U.S. markets. Pic’s cumed nearly $135,000 in less than a week.

For “Best Man Holiday,” Universal is sitting pretty financially given the pic’s modest $17 million budget. The film reunites Lee with all of the original cast members, including Morris Chestnut, Taye Diggs, Regina Hall, Terrence Howard, Sanaa Lathan, Nia Long, Monica Calhoun and Melissa De Sousa.

In 1999, “The Best Man” opened with $9 million and cumed more than $34 million domestically, a considerable sum for a modestly budgeted, urban-targeted film.

The sequel is gaining its strongest traction among African-American women over 25, with tracking similar to pics like “Jumping the Broom,” which scored a $15 million opening weekend in 2011,  and “For Colored Girls” ($19.5 million), released in 2010.

Bowing

Film (Distributor): Locations

  • The Best Man Holiday (Universal): 2,021
  • Nebraska (Paramount): 4
  • 12-12-12 (Weinstein): 2

Expanding

  • Dallas Buyers Club (Focus): 35-184
  • The Book Thief (Fox): 4-29

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