Disney-Marvel’s “Thor: Ragnarok” is heading for a stellar opening weekend with $121 million at 4,080 North American locations — the fourth best launch of 2017.
The third Thor movie is also putting an emphatic end to the month-long box office slump that saw the worst October in a decade. Among 2017 titles, its debut weekend trails only “Beauty and the Beast” at $174.8 million, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” at $146.5 million and “It” at $123.4 million.
“Thor: Ragnarok” also officially launches the holiday season with a major bang. Moviegoing has been battered this year by a subpar second half that’s pulled down 2017 grosses by 5%, but it should rebound somewhat, thanks to “Thor: Ragnorak” — which already cut the decline to 4.8% as of Sunday with $8.93 billion. Warner Bros.-DC Entertainment’s “Justice League” (which opens Nov. 17) and Disney-Lucasfilm’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” (opening Dec. 15) should keep the positive momentum going.
“November has been a hotbed for blockbusters and is as important to any given year as even the hottest summer months; it’s been the launch pad for some of the biggest franchises in box office history including ‘Harry Potter,’ ‘The Hunger Games’ and ‘Twilight,’ not to mention the traditional home for James Bond,” noted Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with comScore. “Now Thor joins the rarefied air that is the $100 million November opening club, becoming only the ninth film to ever reach this threshold and the first to do it within the first part of the month.”
STXfilms’ R-rated “A Bad Moms Christmas,” which opened Wednesday, is heading for a respectable $21.6 million at 3,615 sites for its first five days. A24’s launch of Greta Gerwig’s “Lady Bird” posted the best platform opening of the year with $375,612 on four screens for an impressive $93,903 per-screen average.
“Thor: Ragnarok” wound up over-performing recent estimates, which had been in the $100 million to $118 million range. The rollout includes 3,400 3D screens, 391 Imax screens, 616 premium large format screens, and 204 D-Box locations. The Imax domestic total was $12.2 million, second best of 2017.
With Chris Hemsworth reprising the title role, “Thor: Ragnarok” will finish far above its predecessors, nearly doubling the 2011 opening of “Thor” at $65.7 million and coming in 41% above the 2013 sequel “Thor: The Dark World” at $85.7 million.
“Thor: Ragnarok” is directed by Taika Waititi from a screenplay by Eric Pearson and the writing team of Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost. It also stars Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban, Mark Ruffalo, and Anthony Hopkins. The character of Thor, based on Norse mythology, was created in 1962 by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby for Marvel Comics.
Audiences and critics have responded with plenty of enthusiasm. “Thor: Ragnarok” received an A CinemaScore from audiences, marking the 13th consecutive A-range CinemaScore for Marvel Studios. The Rotten Tomatoes score is 93%, making it one of the most well-reviewed Marvel Cinematic Universe titles.
“Thor: Ragnarok” has also taken in $306 million overseas, including $109 million in its international launch last week in 52% of foreign markets. It expanded to most other overseas territories this weekend and dominated internationally with $151 million, including $55 million in China.
“A Bad Moms Christmas” finished at the lower end of expectations. Audiences gave the movie a B Cinemascore, as opposed to the A that the original “Bad Moms” received when it in opened in July, 2016.
“A Bad Moms Christmas” sequel was produced for $28 million, with Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, and Kathryn Hahn returning to star as under-appreciated and over-burdened women. Their mothers, played by Christine Baranski, Cheryl Hines, and Susan Sarandon, show up unexpectedly for the Christmas season in Chicago. Critics were unimpressed with a 32% score on Rotten Tomatoes.
The previous two box office winners — Lionsgate’s “Jigsaw” and “Boo 2! A Madea Halloween” — took the third and fourth spots. “Jigsaw” declined 60% to $6.7 million at 2,941 sites to lift its 10-day total to $28.8 million. “Boo 2” pulled in $4.7 million at 2,202 locations to push its 17-day take to $43 million.
Warner Bros.’ third frame of “Geostorm” followed in fifth with $3 million at 2,666 venues for a disappointing total of $28.8 million. International results have been far more robust with $153.6 million, led by $57.4 million in China.
Universal’s fourth weekend of “Happy Death Day” came in sixth with $2.8 million at 2,184 sites, giving the low-budget horror story a solid $53 million in its first 24 days. The studio’s second weekend of DreamWorks’ PTSD drama “Thank You for Your Service” declined 41% to $2.3 million at 2,083 locations.
Alcon Entertainment’s “Blade Runner 2049,” distributed by Warner Bros., finished eighth in its fifth frame with $2.2 million at 1,464 venues for a 31-day total. The pricey sci-fi sequel, financed by Alcon and Sony, has taken in $154.5 million internationally.
Gold Label Media’s third weekend of firefighting drama “Only the Brave,” distributed by Sony, came in ninth with $1.9 million at 2,073 locations. Atlas Distribution’s second weekend of faith-based “Let There Be Light” cracked the top 10 list with $1.6 million at 642 sites for a 10-day total of $4 million.
Paramount’s second weekend of Matt Damon’s comedy-drama “Suburbicon” continued to disappoint, declining 59% to $1.2 million at 2.046 locations for a 10-day total of $5.1 million — one of the worst performances of Damon’s career.
Woody Harrelson’s “LBJ” opened softly with $1.1 million at 659 theaters for Electric Entertainment, Dean Devliin’s new distribution company. Rob Reiner directed the biopic, which also stars Richard Jenkins, Bill Pullman and Jennifer Jason Leigh.
Lionsgate’s platform launch of Amazon’s “Last Flag Flying” debuted decently with $42,000 at four locations. The comedy-drama, directed by Richard Linklater, stars Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston and Laurence Fishburne as Vietnam War veterans who reunite after one of their sons is killed in Iraq.