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‘Thor: Ragnarok’ Beats ‘Wonder Woman’ Opening, But Box Office Still Declines

Only the strong survive as the blockbuster return of Marvel couldn't lift all box office boats.

"Thor: Ragnarok"

“Thor: Ragnarok”

Disney/Marvel

All hail our Disney and Marvel overlords as they came through on schedule with the most positive box office news since “It” two months ago. “Thor: Ragnarok”‘s opening take of $121 million for exceeded $100-110 million projections. The third time out for “Thor” is not only the top-performer for the sub-franchise, but the second-best ever for Marvel outside the May-August period — only “Deadpool” in February was bigger.

Such is the dominance of comic adaptations that this impressive total is only the 19th-best opening in adjusted numbers. But for 2017, “Ragnarok” grossed $18 million more than the year’s top genre entry “Wonder Woman,” which sits at #2 for 2017, behind “Beauty and the Beast.”

This debut also marks a $35-million increase over “Doctor Strange,” another Marvel entry, on the same first November weekend in 2016. And it comes parallel to a worldwide take (in the second weekend many markets) of $427 million so far.

Justice League

So “Ragnarok” came through big time, just when recent pessimistic feast or famine box office trends seems to be taking hold. And it is particularly critical as one of four projected giant hits, along with Warners/DC’s “Justice League” and Disney’s “Coco” and “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” Any shortfall might have foreshadowed a loss of momentum going into the holidays.

And yet the weekend still fell short of last year. Total grosses will likely amount to around $180 million, down about five per cent from last year. The reason? One plaguing the overall scene of late — missing product.

Last year saw three wide releases, with “Trolls,” the animated film in second place, grossing at $47 million more by itself than the uptick that “Thor: Ragnarok” provided. “A Bad Moms Christmas” (STX) this year’s second new release, came in $2 million better than “Hacksaw Ridge” last year. Down the list, the cumulative impact of holdovers was minor, with only “Jigsaw” (Lionsgate) over $ 5 million.

“A Bad Moms Christmas”

“Bad Moms,” a very quick turnaround sequel (little more than 15 months after the sleeper success of its predecessor) opened on Wednesday. Its five day gross of $21,556,000 is about $2.3 million under the first weekend last time. Most of the initial two-day gross would have melded into the weekend with a Friday opening most likely, which makes the drop off not bad. The difference though will likely be long term. First time out and with late summer play time (and less later competition), it managed an impressive nearly five times multiple of $113 million total. The more likely result this time will be about half that as a domestic gross.

If the “Bad Moms” sequel performs at the same ratio overseas as last time, that would mean about a $100 million haul. With a higher budget ($28 million) that’s at the low end of needed returns (STX’s pre-sales could be the difference in their profit). It still comes as the company’s best opening since “Bad Moms.”

Holdovers

Despite the mostly lousy results last weekend, most holdovers provided no strong signs of long term life ahead. “Jigsaw” (Lionsgate) and its holiday related horror boost dropped 60 per cent this weekend and a likely ultimate second to lowest attendance in the now seven title “Saw” series. “Boo 2!: A Madea Halloween” dropped 4 per cent, and stands at about two thirds of the same point of the first “Boo!” last year. “Thank You for Your Service” (Universal) kept its fall to 40 per cent, but started weak and looks headed for only a slightly longer stay at most theaters. George Clooney’s “Suburbicon” (Paramount) fell 60 per cent from its disastrous start and a #13 position. The more limited faith based polemic “Let There Be Light” boosted its theater count to 642 and edging into the Top 10, but still saw its total drop slightly with its per theater average dropping over 40 per cent.

“Murder on the Orient Express”

In advance of the prime holiday openers “Justice League” and “Coco” on consecutive weeks, next Friday sees “Daddy’s Home 2” (Paramount) looking for broad interest, while  20th Century Fox’s remake of “Murder on the Orient Express” hopes to lure older audiences, with initial mixed reviews not likely to help much.

The Top Ten

1. Thor: Ragnarok (Disney) NEW – Cinemascore: A; Metacritic: 73; Est. budget: $180 million

$121,005,000 in 4,080 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $29,658,000; Cumulative: $121,005,000

2. A Bad Moms Christmas (STX) NEW – Cinemascore: B0; Metacritic: 42; Est. budget: $28 million

$17,030,000 in 3,615 theaters; PTA: $4,711; Cumulative: $21,556,000

3. Jigsaw (Lionsgate) Week 2 – Last weekend #1

$6,700,000 (-60%) in 2,941 theaters (no change); PTA: $2,278; Cumulative: $28,836,000

4. Boo 2: A Madea Halloween (Lionsgate) Week 3 – Last weekend #2

$4,650,000 (-54%) in 2,202 theaters (-186); PTA: $2,112; Cumulative: $42,958,000

5. Geostorm (Warner Bros.) Week 3 – Last weekend #3

$3,035,000 (-49%) in 2,666 theaters (-580); PTA: $2,666; Cumulative: $28,770,000

6. Happy Death Day (Universal) Week 4 – Last weekend #4

$2,815,000 (-45%) in 2,184 theaters (-1,351); PTA: $1,289; Cumulative: $52,968,000

7. Thank You for Your Service (Universal) Week 2 – Last weekend #6

$2,260,000 (-41%) in 2,083 theaters (+29); PTA: $1,085; Cumulative: $7,356,000

8. Blade Runner 2049 (Warner Bros.) Week 5 – Last weekend #5

$2,235,000 (-46%) in 1,464 theaters (-957); PTA: $1,527; Cumulative: $85,456,000

9. Only the Brave (Sony) Week 3 – Last weekend #7

$1,910,000 (-45%) in 2,073 theaters (-504); PTA: $921; Cumulative: $15,290,000

10. Let There Be Light (Atlas) Week 2 – Last weekend #11

$1,631 (-6%) in 642 theaters (+269); PTA: $2,541; Cumulative: $4,024,000

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