Weekend Box Office: 'Thor' Holds #1 With $34.5 million, 'Bridesmaids' Surprises

by Gabe Toro
May 15, 2011 5:55 AM
21 Comments
  • |

If you enter the blockbuster business in Hollywood, you essentially enter the $80 million opening weekend business. Which is to say, it’s part of a pray/hope/accept/die model. Considering most blockbusters cost $150-$200 million, with marketing sometimes adding up to $100 million, a 3x’s multiplier after an $80 million opening ($240 million) might be the best-case scenario, unless you‘ve released a much-better-than-expected film (not likely). You double that number with overseas receipts, you’ve potentially got $480-$500 million worldwide on a possible $300 million expenditure. The studio earns 55% of that take, meaning that you’ve approached profit, with DVD and merchandising expecting to take care of the rest.

And so, the pray/hope/accept/die model. Most studios let their blockbuster out in the wild praying for $80 million +, and if tracking isn’t nearly as strong, they hope for $60 million, with the expectation that a 3x’s multiplier takes you to $180 million. $40 million is something you have to accept - yes, lots of people still saw your movie, and maybe a lot of them loved it. You could have word of mouth and strong legs, or you could even go supernova on DVD. A lot of things have to fall in place, and the film could still hit hard, but profit’s a longshot. Less than that? Death.

Marvel expected the final leg of marketing to take “Thor” to the level of “Iron Man,” but that never materialized, and even with inflation and a 3D surcharge, the opening weekend brought in $33 million less than the initial adventure of Tony Stark. International crowds have responded strongly to the God of Thunder, and a final tally of $400-$500 million is likely, though these two-week numbers aren’t strong enough to spark “Thor 2” talk at the Marvel offices. As such, consider the second week drop of less-than-50% to be only somewhat workable, as, unlike other summer blockbusters, “Thor” faced no direct competition. Not that it matters, anyway: in addition to the toys and cross-marketing strategies in place to ensure “Thor” profits, the character is already going to feature prominently in next summer’s “The Avengers.” Nobody is embarrassed by this, is a less-optimistic way of describing the situation.

Most people expected “Bridesmaids” to do middling-to-acceptable numbers, and few considered $20 million a likelihood. Like some of the reviews, most of this came from backwards thinking from both sexes. Nikki Finke claimed she would retire if “Bridesmaids” opened to more than $15 million, as if that was the benchmark for how many women would accept ladies behaving badly, despite only a few scenes in the film accurately capturing that vibe. Like most people, she forgot that the male-centric films produced by Judd Apatow, all of which feature significant humor based around various degrees of scatology, were heavily attended by women as well, and the nose-holding notion that women are repulsed by poop and fart jokes (cue Karina Longsworth’s wrongheaded take on the picture) does a lot to further encourage people to police the public, and private, behavior of women in this country.

The numbers aren’t strong enough to suggest that the film connected that strongly, and Kristin Wiig isn’t exactly on the A-List just yet, but this is a big win. “Bridesmaids” was actually within whistling distance of “Thor”’s per-screen average despite playing in a thousand less theaters, and, opening around the same level of “The 40 Year Old Virgin” the film could play for a bit and threaten $100 million. In other words, Ms. Finke, you have the prose of a twelve year old, the composure of someone much younger, and a commenting crowd that represents the biggest argument against politicians who claim America spends too much on education. You can retire now.

Congratulations to “Fast Five,” now the highest grossing film in the series domestically. And yet, worldwide, the film is demolishing the competition to the point where there will be a very sharp domestic/international divide between numbers. The third weekend hold wasn’t bad for this film, suggesting there were some repeat viewings, and that even with “Pirates Of The Caribbean” emerging next weekend, “Fast Five” could make a play for $200 million, and likely $500 million globally. Rarefied air - this is the first fourth sequel to be the highest-grossing in a franchise.

It remains perplexing that anyone allowed “Priest” to happen, though Hollywood politics clear up such questions. Director Scott Stewart, who debuted with last year’s smash-and-grab D-movie “Legion,” is actually the founder of The Orphanage, one of the biggest special effects houses in the industry. And so, as a small thank you, it only makes sense that Hollywood allow him to direct his middling sci-fi mashups with his Olivier, Paul Bettany, despite zero interest in “Priest” from even the most ardent genre fan boys. But this stuff works as more of an off-season treat then a big ticket May attraction, so it’s not a surprise that, even with a few 3D-buffered engagements, this debut didn’t match the $17 million January haul for “Legion.” Side note: this guy’s got some issues with religion.

The smallest audience drop in the top ten belongs to “Rio.” The Blue Sky ‘toon picked up an odd second wind as its box office run is slowing down, a surprising but not entirely unexpected development give that there are no other kiddie ‘toons until “Kung-Fu Panda 2” on the 26th. The film could stick around and even chase $150 million if it holds steady next weekend, though it will lose more 3D screens with “Pirates” arriving on our shores.

While “Jumping The Broom” handily out grossed “Something Borrowed” last weekend despite appearing on nearly a thousand less screens, it appears some course correction has occurred, with “Borrowed” only narrowly behind "Broom" at this point. The reason for this is simple: “Broom,” with it’s tired class-war romance concept, was a first weekend attraction for highly unadventurous filmgoers. “Borrowed” meanwhile, is actually based on a series of books, and a large portion of its audience (readers) are not the type to rush as soon as a movie opens. The fact that neither film appears to be any good is unfortunate. The fact that three female-centric wedding films should each pull in at least $35 million during the month of May is notable.

Modest success awaits “Water For Elephants,” which should cross $50 million sometime before next weekend. Meanwhile, “Madea’s Big Happy Family” became the seventh Tyler Perry offering to cross $50 million domestically. Not exactly Apatow territory but close. It was a limp to get to these numbers, however, and it’s a safe bet that’s the last we’ve seen of Madea for awhile, with Perry currently directing the more conventional romantic comedy “Good Deeds” before moving into blockbuster territory with “I, Alex Cross.” Still in the top ten after six weeks, “Soul Surfer” has hung on for one last hurrah, likely to close with a $40 million+ gross, about twice as much what anyone anticipated.

In indie theaters, the numbers were middling for “Everything Must Go.” The film only scored $740k with a 218 theater berth, averaging slightly above $3k per-screen. The news was also weak for “Hesher,” which tallied $127k at forty engagements, while “The Beaver” continued to struggle despite an expansion onto 105 screens, averaging $1.5k per-screen for a $158k second weekend tally.

The news was even less encouraging for Lionsgate’s “Go For It,” which earned the support of a 218 theater launch but only averaged $505 per-screen, landing at a dismal $110k for the weekend. National Geographic found slightly more success with “The First Grader,” nabbing $22.6k on three screens, but “Skateland” floundered with only $5.1k on two screens. The week’s biggest per-screen average belonged to “L’amour Fou,” which grabbed $36k worth of audiences at two locations. Lots of indies out there, lots of empty theaters. Support your local arthouse, boys and girls.

1. Space Viking 3D (Paramount) - $34.5 million ($119 mil.)
2. Judd Apatow, But For The Ladies! (Universal) - $24.4 million
3. Fast, To The Power Of Five (Universal) - $19.5 million ($169 mil.)
4. The Vengeful Clergyman 3D (Sony/Screen Gems) - $14.5 million
5. Rio 3D (Fox) - $8 million ($125 mil.)
6. Jumping The Broom (Sony/TriStar) - $7.3 million ($26 mil.)
7. Something Borrowed (Warner Bros.) - $7 million ($26 mil.)
8. Courvoisier For Elephants (Fox) - $4.1 million ($48 mil.)
9. Tyler Perry's Madea Goes To Hell: The Final Friday (Lionsgate) - $2.2 million ($50 mil.)
10. Soul Surfer (Sony) - $1.8 million ($39 mil.)

You might also like:
Free Indie Movies and Documentaries    

21 Comments

  • ASFan | May 16, 2011 6:12 AMReply

    I think people are having differing opinions on the wait-and-see approach. I think what everyone is referring to is that while they may start developing a sequel before the first one is released, they don't start the real pre-production work of hiring cast and crew until they see how well the first one does.

  • Gabe Toro | May 16, 2011 3:48 AMReply

    You'd have to do the math on Thor to figure it's status as a hit. Let's say the film does $200 million domestically (maybe) and $300 internationally (probably)*. Considering the film is "unofficially" budgeted at $150 million, we'd have to know the marketing on this. Being that "Thor" is, as mentioned in these comments, a tough sell, we can assume $80-$100 million. An expenditure of $230 million means that the film would have to gross close to $440-460 million to enter profit.

    If the film does $500 million, then no doubt they'd be proud of that. That means the film weathers Pirates 4, Hangover, Kung-Fu Panda 2 and X-Men and has legs. Not impossible. But that's going to be a heckuva struggle.

    Iron Man 2, btw, made $622 million internationally. The first Iron Man finished at $585 million. Thor probably will not match either.

    And "lol whut" (please pick a new username), the movies you mentioned most definitely had sequels in active development shortly afterward. Extenuating circumstances (the talent gets busy) means that they didn't get released until maybe two or three years later, but days after counting those initial tallies, announcements were made regarding further chapters in those installments.

    There was a waiting period with The Matrix, because the Wachowskis originally envisioned the story of The Matrix to be a trilogy before, as they claim, truncating the entire story into the first film. It was months of persuasion to get them onboard for more adventures in that universe. Just because a movie enters active development (people get signed, scripts are commisioned) doesn't mean we'll see it immediately, but it means it is a priority for the studio. We've seen no such announcement on Thor before Kevin Feige saying he likes the idea of a Thor 2 anecdotally.

    To be honest, I would think hiring a writer for Thor 2 seems like it would be a priority, but among all the Avengers, Thor seems like the one that would necessitate a more expensive sequel. Nevertheless, a sequel announcement is a good way of hyping the original picture currently in theaters, so, in all fairness, we may be days away from that. Truth is, Marvel needs product, and beyond The Avengers next year and Iron Man 3 the year after, they don't have any yet.

    In other words, I think you could go either way on Thor's "hit status" and I think there's enough evidence to suggest Marvel is doing more sweating than celebrating.


    *Uncertain as to Thor's international tally. I've read some reports it's already close to $200 million, but if that's not counting this weekend, the overseas tally is poised to be a LOT greater. Which would make all this null and lead to Thor 2 becoming an inevitability, I think.

  • Mike Thomas | May 15, 2011 11:34 AMReply

    This was the stupidest article I have ever read on the site. Did the writer even check what Iron Man 1 or 2 did total with overseas numbers. YEAH! Thor lags far behind that.

  • Lol whut | May 15, 2011 11:32 AMReply

    Gabe says "But, the way Hollywood (unfortunately) works is that they jump on properties, they move quickly on ideas"

    um, no, actually, properties/ideas often spend a long time in development. How many creative teams and years have been spent on "The Dark Tower?"


    Also what does "No one really does the “wait and see” approach, because if they do, they get fired and replaced." mean? EVERY MOVIE USES THIS APPROACH.

    The Matrix, Pirates of the Caribbean, fast and the furious, and other movies where they saw first one was successful - because they "wait and saw" does it make it less so?

    What about movies like "The Vampires Assistant" "The Last Airbender" "The Golden Compass" and "Percy Jackson" - those were envisioned from the start as franchises with multiple installments mapped out - but then those later installments were cancelled. So...

    Every movie is on the "wait-and-see" approach. And just because a studio is thinking about a sequel before a movie comes out, doesn't make that movie successful (see the above)

  • Lol whut | May 15, 2011 11:19 AMReply

    If Captain America flops, then there won't be a Captain America 2, regardless of whether or not there are writers "publicly hired."

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2011/may/05/thor-sequel-kenneth-branagh

    "arvel's Kevin Feige said last month that a second Thor film is being planned, with Australian Chris Hemsworth set to reprise the lead. In the meantime, the god of thunder will appear in the Joss Whedon-directed ensemble superhero movie The Avengers, alongside Captain America, Iron Man and The Hulk, next year."

  • Edward Davis | May 15, 2011 11:19 AMReply

    Gabe, who says they're not gonna hire them (or announce it) in two weeks? Maybe they project a bigger hit with Captain America and wanted to take a wait and see approach with Thor (and the approach does exist despite your B&W thoughts to the contrary).

  • Gabe Toro | May 15, 2011 11:04 AMReply

    Question:
    Why has Marvel publicly hired writers to script Captain America 2, but there is currently no writer on Thor 2?

  • Marcus Wayne | May 15, 2011 10:38 AMReply

    Thor hasn't been out more than a month and it's a $300 million worldwide. That's a hit movie. Marvel is pleased, and they will be a Thor 2 after Hemsworth becomes a star over the next few years.

    Also, people know Iron Man. When I was a kid you had Wu Tang Clan rapping about Iron Man and Tony Stark for Godsakes. Was Robert Downey Jr. A list when he did Iron Man? No, but Robert Downey Jr. is a million times more known here in the U.S than Chris Hemsworth. Iron Man was Downey Jr. first foray into big budget tentpole movies. The movie looked cool and people were curious to see Downey in a movie he has never done before. Similar to Johnny Depp in the first Pirates movies. If Brad Pitt was cast as Thor it would have easily done Iron Man numbers.

  • Lol whut | May 15, 2011 10:34 AMReply

    Thor is a hit movie. Not as big as Iron Man. X-Men: First Class probably won't be as big as the Wolverine Movie. That doesn't mean it can't still be successful.

    I'd say they are very confident in how Thor was received. That drop off was very, very good, and the cinemascore was a "B+" - The idea now is launch Thor and Captain America to build hype for "The Avengers" - so far, so good. I think you need to look at The Avengers as the next chapter, not a Thor or Cap 2.

    Going by "whats being talked about" makes no sense. first, they don't say publicly everything they really mean or have going on behind the scenes. Second, just because something is talked about doesn't mean its happening (ANT-MAN?) and just because something isn't being talked about (THOR 2) doesn't mean its not happening.

    My opinion would be they don't want to be hyping a Thor 2 or Captain America 2, because the next chapter is THE AVENGERS, and that's what they want the focus to be on.

    Don't forget they already have all their actors under contract - so its not like you will read about them clamoring to get deals done to sign people and schedule them like you would with other franchises, since they make sure to sign everyone for multiple movies right up front.

  • Jeffmc2000 | May 15, 2011 9:50 AMReply

    If Fast 5 hadn't come out the week before, Thor would have done Iron Man numbers. Those first weekend in May blockbuster grosses are always reliant on being the first Summer crowd-pleaser out of the gate. Nobody thought the first big summer movie of the year would actually come out at the end of April.

    And a less than 50% drop for a second weekend regardless of the competition means that people actually like the movie and it'll probably play for awhile. It may be a limp to the finish line but Marvel and Paramount will make sure Thor gets to 200 mil domestic just for the bragging rights.

  • ASFan | May 15, 2011 8:58 AMReply

    I meant to finish my last comment with "So be it" but I clicked submit too soon.

  • ASFan | May 15, 2011 8:57 AMReply

    If you say Thor was more household than Iron Man before the latter's first movie, then that's your opinion against ours.

  • Gabe Toro | May 15, 2011 8:46 AMReply

    Marvel is playing a very dangerous game, and right now they're getting away with it because they aren't necessarily breaking the bank on paying for these blockbusters. But they're expecting to hit a home run every time out, and Iron Man set that standard. Iron Man does 98 mil, IM2 does 128 million, then they should have a somewhat-associated property hit 80 to keep their business going. They got lucky that no one was releasing anything big in Thor's second weekend, and the international audiences love the movie, so yeah, it's a hit.

    But, the way Hollywood (unfortunately) works is that they jump on properties, they move quickly on ideas. Kevin Feige has talked about a Thor 2 - he's also talked about a Hawkeye movie. He's talked a lot. But, the way Hollywood works is, after that first, or maybe after that second weekend, people will be talking about a sequel, or they won't. No one really does the "wait and see" approach, because if they do, they get fired and replaced. Look at what happened at Universal - they fired their President of Production the weekend after Fast Five hit. While there were a totally independent series of political strategies beyond that decision, the point is, Hollywood is ruthless about this shit.

    Marvel has been FORCED into the wait-and-see position with their non-Iron Man properties, as Iron Man 3 is the only post-Avengers project with anyone behind it. The studio has ONE solo production set for 2012, and then only one more for 2013. That's an awfully lonely slate, and they're debating whether to extend their franchises, or create new ones. To say there is uncertainty regarding whether there should be a Thor 2 instead of an, I don't know, Dr. Strange, or SHIELD movie, suggests they aren't entirely confident in the way Thor has been greeted by domestic audiences.

    You're thinking too conservatively - Marvel wants home runs. Thor is a triple, and anyone not in the cutthroat Hollywood business would be happy with that and the ensuing profits. But they want THEATRICAL profit, and they want it IMMEDIATELY, and that means $500 million worldwide as a WORST case scenario. The standards are different here.

    Also, yes, I would argue Thor, the Norse God Of Thunder, was more well-known to casual fans both today and in 2008, when Iron Man happened. At the time, if you recall, Iron Man was still considered a "b-list" Marvel character. Not to say that anyone has ever been rabid about Thor, but I would say, in early 2008, that it was a more viable brand name than Iron Man.

  • hmm | May 15, 2011 8:26 AMReply

    Feige has indeed talked about Thor 2

  • Lol whut | May 15, 2011 8:06 AMReply

    Gabe, Marvel doesn't need to talk "Thor 2" right now, "Thor" just opened and they have "Captain America" coming and "The Avengers" filming. Seems crazy for you to infer that means they are disappointed with it. Again, I have no problem with you speculating, but you write as if it's fact when it's from from it.

    Thor has frost giants, rainbow bridges, other realms and an unknown star. Iron Man had familiar faces, in a modern day setting, making it more accessible. Guns, plans, that kind of stuff with no fantasy elements make it a safer bet.

    Iron Man was a huge hit - so what if Thor isn't as big of a hit? So basically, your thinking is, anything that doesn't match Iron Man is a flop?

    Is any WB movie that doesn't match The Dark Knight is then also a flop?

  • J.D. | May 15, 2011 7:53 AMReply

    I agree-- Longworth's take on BRIDESMAIDS was erroneous. But my main problem with it was how she strongly implied that it's a cynical and deliberate attempt by the Apatow camp to break Apatow's pattern of making man-boy centric films. Isn't every film a deliberate attempt to do something? And on those terms, does that mean every film is inherently cynical? And isn't it a good thing for a producer/director to make something that's outside of his or her track record?

    Longworth's critical point-of-view is slanted anyway. I doubt that she ever goes into a mainstream film with a fair mindset, but she claims that naming TRASH HUMPERS as the best film of 2010 is in no way a affected stance. In other words, she can't disclose what her subjectivity is despite it being evident to anyone who's reading her reviews.

    I'll admit: I did not completely love BRIDESMAIDS. Like many Apatow productions the movie's structure is shaggy and most of the film is visually unexciting. But Kristen Wiig's lead performance is great and the story had insight. And I laughed more than five times. So that's more credit than anyone can reasonably give most Hollywood comedies these days.

  • Wrong | May 15, 2011 7:53 AMReply

    Thor was not more of a household name than Iron Man.

  • ASFan | May 15, 2011 7:41 AMReply

    Was Iron Man really a less household name than Thor before the movie? I'm not so sure about that.

  • Gabe Toro | May 15, 2011 7:21 AMReply

    Iron Man was less of a household name than Thor was when the film was released, and Robert Downey Jr. was far away from the A-List.

    It's not that Thor didn't match Iron Man's numbers, it's that they were so inferior. Again, why is Marvel so hesitant to talk "Thor 2"?

  • Lol whut | May 15, 2011 7:11 AMReply

    gabe - what the hell are you talking about? Marvel never thought Thor would reach Iron Man numbers. What are your "sources" on that?

    Thor is a MUCH more fantastic/supernatural character, less household name than iron man, with an unknown playing him unlike an a-lister in Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man. They didn't expect it to be Iron Man, but it's a big hit movie that will help build for the Avengers.

    Sorry, you can try to spin it some other way, but Thor is a hit movie, sorry.

  • ASFan | May 15, 2011 6:48 AMReply

    If Bridesmaids had done underwhelming numbers, I'd have fired someone or a set of people in Universal's marketing department. It's good the recent change up there has helped their films so far and hopefully they don't fuck up Cowboys & Aliens.

Email Updates