By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood November 9, 2013 at 1:33PM
Adding to its stellar first-week overseas haul of more than $150 million, "Thor: The Dark World" is grabbing more than half of Friday's Top 10 box office take. With $31,633,000 (including Thursday night shows) already in the till the Marvel/Disney sequel will score an easy #1 for the weekend. However, the film is unlikely to cross $100 million for the weekend. Indeed the number won't even be a record for the Veteran's Day holiday.
Last year, "Skyfall" amassed $32.7 million on its opening Friday, after doing $2.2 million on its first Thursday (about $5 million less than "Thor"'s preview). So the actual Friday to Friday comparison puts "Thor 2" with $24.5 million at about 75% of "Skyfall"'s opening Friday -- and "Skyfall," unlike "Thor 2" was a 2-D film without the boost of 3-D premium pricing.
Of course "Thor" is yet another Marvel factory success. Its early November gross, along with the rest of the Top 10, should bring the weekend close to last year's strong totals. But with production costs and worldwide marketing likely approaching a quarter billion dollars and the long-term legs of this film not likely to equal "The Avengers" or other top comic book performers, the weekend final numbers will come in at the low end of expectations (perhaps not even reaching $80 million) and make this less of a smash than many predicted.
No other new film opened in a wide break, but two other recent releases expanded above 1,000 theaters for the first time. "12 Years a Slave" (Fox Searchlight) went to 1,144 theaters in week 4, about a 280% increase from last weekend's 410, for a gross of $1,850,000, an increase of 31% from last Friday. It landed in seventh place, the same as last week.
The gross puts "12 Years" substantially ahead of the first weekend that "Blue Jasmine" passed the 1,000 theater mark (its fifth), when it grossed around $1.1 million in 1,283 theaters. Curiously, Searchlight waited more than two months before getting to this number of theaters for "The Descendants." Because "12 Years" came out a month earlier, the comparison isn't totally apt, since the latter film's latter release allowed it, like "Silver Linings Playbook," a chance to build over the Christmas holidays. Both those films reached their widest breaks parallel to the Oscar nominations. "12 Years" should be able to hold on to many of its theaters through Thanksgiving, then retreat to a smaller core until it has a similar expansion in January. Meantime, it has already grossed an impressive $12.6 million through Friday.
Universal expanded "About Time," which opened in 175 theaters last Friday to a $319,000 gross, to 1,200 theaters for a gross of $1.5 million. This gives the romantic comedy a per screen average below "12 Years" (and a #9 position), but it comes with a fairly high amount of TV and other marketing that added to the cost of this release of Richard Curtis' British sci-fi/romcom as it gradually rolls out, with the hope that early sampling will spark word of mouth to give this traction in the weeks ahead. At this point, it is too early to say how successful this will be.
The holdovers turn out to be a story in themselves. Though #3 for Friday at $3,220,000, CBS Films' "Last Vegas" looks set to over take Paramount's "Bad Grandpa" (Paramount), itself holding well in its third week, for #2 for the weekend. After actually making it to #1 for Thursday, this older audience-skewing comedy clearly is thriving with world of mouth. "Grandpa" meantime is holding far better than expected, adding $3.4 million for the day.
The news is not so good for Lionsgate's sci-fi would-be franchise "Ender's Game," which grossed $2.9 million for the day for #4, but will likely fall a spot for the full weekend when Relativity's "Free Birds" ($2.6 million Friday) benefits from matinees. "Ender's" took the biggest hit from the "Thor" opening, but was already showing signs of weakness through the week.
"Gravity" (Warner Bros.) was #6 for the day at $2.3 million, reaching $225 million through yesterday as it begins its sixth week. "Captain Phillips" (Sony) hangs in at #8 with $1.6 million, while Sony's "Cloudy With a Chance a Meatballs" once again is hanging on for #10, with $575,000.
Among limited openings, the heavily-advertised but mixed-reviewed "The Book Thief" (Twentieth Century Fox) managed $25,700 in four prime New York/Los Angeles locations, a disappointment compared to its platform positioning (PSA $6,425).
Overall, the top 10 grossed about $52 million, up from $49 million last year despite "Skyfall" doing slightly better than "Thor 2." The variety of films in the market and decent word of mouth for several of them is the major reason for the uptick.