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Weekend Box Office: ‘Thor’ Soars, Romcoms Prosper, ‘Beaver’ Gets Plugged

Weekend Box Office: 'Thor' Soars, Romcoms Prosper, 'Beaver' Gets Plugged

As far as blockbuster debuts go, “Thor” didn’t perform too badly. The first big release of May thundered its way to a $66 million weekend, slightly above what industry analysts predicted for the God of Thunder. The film benefited from the biggest 3D berth of any major release thus far as well as the mighty marketing team of Paramount and Marvel to nab numbers that, on the surface, show potential to be a franchise-starter.

It’s not all wine and roses for the Odinson and his associates, however. After “Iron Man,” Marvel still hasn’t launched a property into the stratosphere, with “The Incredible Hulk” doing $55 million a couple of years ago. “Thor” fits in that ballpark given inflation plus the 3D surcharge, and in fact it’s first weekend is comparable to the $54 million “X-Men” brought in during the summer of 2000. Yes, more than a decade ago. With a busy summer season, audiences will have to fall in love with Chris Hemsworth for this picture to do the necessary $200 million domestic, ensuring Kevin Feige announces a “Thor 2: Thor Harder” for the 2013 slate. “Thor” also finishes well below the standard opening May weekend, when audiences are primed for a blockbuster, it’s tally a little more than half what “Iron Man 2” brought in last year, and the lowest grossing amongst blockbusters tasked with opening the since 2006, though it’s the first non-sequel to have that slot since 2005.

That coveted early May slot benefits from audiences hungry for a big blockbuster, though for many that was satisfied by “Fast Five” last weekend. The film took the customary second weekend dive for disposable franchise moneymakers, losing over 60% of its audience, though the picture continued to debut worldwide, registering huge numbers in several new regions. “Fast Five,” like its predecessors, was an opening weekend picture, cemented by Universal inflating grosses with a single-week engagement on IMAX screens. But after two weekends, the film is merely days away from becoming the highest grossing in the series. Vin Diesel is preparing his “Riddick 3” presentation as we speak.

The rom-com tends to be less of an attraction and more like counter programming on blockbuster weekends like this. Usually they are cheap and do numbers less than $20 million, so it seemed unlikely that two fairly unappetizing efforts in the genre would combine for $26. Surprisingly, that’s exactly what happened, with “Jumping The Broom” and “Something Borrowed.” “Borrowed” registered on the low-end of the surprisingly-lucrative Kate Hudson’s body of work, while “Broom,” in nearly a thousand less theaters, registered the more impressive number, thanks to an aggressive outdoor campaign and faith-based urban marketing making every one of those screens count. To Hollywood, Angela Bassett is “eighth lead in ‘Green Lantern’” but to these audiences, she and the rest of the cast were marquee attractions.

Also in the top five, “Rio” slowed 43%, a pretty decent hold considering “Thor” sopping up those 3D screens. The animated feature should pass “Rango” in the next couple of days to become the second highest grossing film of the year, and the biggest CG-attraction of 2011. Keeping pace was “Water For Elephants,” while Tyler Perry’s latest is sputtering in a chase for $50 million.

In indie theaters, the numbers were borderline catastrophic for “The Beaver.” Despite a huge publicity storm, the film could not find its footing at a twenty two theater engagement and a $104k take, with audiences unsure if it was a comedy or drama, adding further complications to a film saddled with a P.R. nightmare of a star. Also unpromising was the opening for “There Be Dragons,” which pulled in $689k on 259 screens. That number still led a crowded indie field that was competing with the expansion of “Cave of Forgotten Dreams” onto 50 screens, as it nabbed a $7k per-theater average and $350k overall.

Last Night” appeared on ten screens for a $32k total, and “Octubre” grabbed a healthy $8k on two screens. The odd man out on the indie scene is the star-packed “Passion Play,” with Mickey Rourke, Megan Fox and Bill Murray. The fantastical crime drama managed a meager $2k on only two screens, somehow disproving the notion that “movie star” equals “someone I want to see onscreen in anything.” Support your local arthouse, boys and girls.

1. Blockbuster Prelude To The Avengers (Paramount) – $66 million
2. Fast Fivel Goes West (Universal) – $32.5 million ($140 mil.)
3. Jumping The Broom (Sony/TriStar) – $13.7 million
4. Something Borrowed (Warner Bros.) – $13.2 million
5. Rio (Fox) – $8.2 million ($115 mil.)
6. Tom Collins For Elephants (Fox) – $5.6 million ($42 mil.)
7. Tyler Perry’s Mantan’s New Millennium Minstrel Show (Lionsgate) – $3.9 million ($47 mil.)
8. Prom (Disney) – $2.4 million ($7.8 mil.)
9. Soul Surfer (Sony) – $2.1 million ($37 mil.)
10. Hoodwinked Too! Hood Vs. Evil (Weinstein) – $1.8 million ($6.7 mil.)

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