In the weekend before the arrival of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Marvel/Disney’s hit Thor: The Dark World ruled the North American box office for a second and last time. The superhero sequel held off the strong second place debut of Universal’s The Best Man Holiday. Despite the strong numbers pulled in by Thor and Best Man, the top ten was down a steep 51% from last year at this time when The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part Two opened to $141 million.
Superhero films — and sequels in general — are usually front-loaded in terms of attendance. So it came as no surprise that Thor: The Dark World would drop more than 50% from its big opening weekend figures. Staying put in 3,841 theaters, Thor pulled in a still-strong $38.4 million in its sophomore session to bring its ten-day total to $147 million. How Thor and Loki withstand the Catching Fire express will help determine where the final gross lands. The Thanksgiving holiday should help with business and could push Dark World past the $200 million by the end of the month. Overseas, the film has amassed a great $332 million so far.
Back in the fall of 1999, the African-American comedy The Best Man debuted to a modest $9 million en route to a $34 million final gross. If one was to go by the numbers, the idea of a sequel wouldn’t exactly be a feasible one. That is before one factors in home video where Malcolm D. Lee’s debut feature has amassed quite the following. That following showed up in force this weekend for the belated follow up The Best Man Holiday, which grossed a superb $30.5 million from 2,024 screens. African-American women over the age of 35 made up a whopping 75% of the audience, who bestowed the movie with a sterling “A+” CinemaScore rating. Given the numbers generated by Holiday it would be safe to assume that the gap between this film and a third Best Man feature will be a little smaller than 14 years.
Moving up one spot to third place in its third weekend was CBS Films’ comedy hit Last Vegas. The Robert DeNiro/Michael Douglas comedy eased a mere 20% to earn a solid $8.8 million from 3,237 screens while bringing its total to the $47 million mark. Given the solid holds the movie has shown since opening, Last Vegas should continue to do business right through the end of the month. The final domestic gross could reach between $75-80 million.
Another film that has displayed decent legs since opening three weekends ago was Relativity Pictures’ Free Birds. The sole option for families until Disney’s Frozen arrives in two weeks, Free Birds dropped 25% to earn an estimated $8.3 million from 3,510 theaters. The domestic total stands at $42 million and should be able to make its way to the $60 million mark by the end of its run.
Rounding out the top five while inching its way to the $100 million mark is Paramount’s Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa. The Johnny Knoxville comedy displayed another strong hold in its fourth weekend by losing only 32% worth of business on 3,190 screens. To date Bad Grandpa has earned an excellent $90.2 million. The $100 million mark should be crossed next Sunday (or shortly thereafter) and the $115 million mark should be where the movie finds itself by the end of its run.
The remainder of the top ten is as follows:
6. Gravity (Warner) $6.28 million (-26%); $240.5 million
7. Ender’s Game (Summit) $6.2 million (-40%); $53.7 million
8. 12 Years a Slave (Fox Searchlight) $4.7 million (-30%); $25 million
9. Captain Phillips (Sony) $4.5 million (-21%); $97.6 million
10. About Time (Universal) $3.4 million (-27%); $11.5 million
Next weekend will be all Katniss, all the time as The Hunger Games: Catching Fire comes in to own the North American box office. The Vince Vaughn comedy Delivery Man also arrives on the scene to serve as counter-programming to Catching Fire; good luck with that, Vince, and both newcomers should end up posting higher numbers than Thor.
– Shawn Fitzgerald