Thor hammers box-office foes with US opening

 Chris Hemsworth as Thor, the first of many big hitters expected to drive crowds to cinemas over the Christmas period.

Superheroes continue to defeat their foes at the box-office, with Disney’s Thor: The Dark World earning €109m and dominating the weekend box office as it opened in the US over the weekend.

“It’s an extraordinary thing,” said Dave Hollis, executive vice-president of distribution at Walt Disney Studios. “These guys at Marvel have been some of the most consistent when it comes to making movies and creating big events that drive a tonne of people to the movies. They over-delivered on expectations.”

The Marvel superhero sequel, starring Chris Hemsworth as the Asgardian god of thunder and Tom Hiddleston as his villainous brother Loki, marks a record for a Disney November opening, topping the €70.5m The Incredibles earned in 2004.

However, come Nov 21, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is predicted to take the No 1 spot.

“We have a great little stretch of time prior to Hunger Games,” Hollis said. “Yes, Hunger Games will do a whole bunch of business, but that’s not to say we don’t expect to still be a relevant option for consumers that weekend and on to the following weekend.”

The heaviest hitter of all, however, is expected to be The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the second part of a trilogy developed from the JRR Tolkein novel that preceded the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It opens in Ireland on Dec 13.

Paramount’s hidden-camera comedy Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa held second place at the US box office for the second weekend in a row.

“Audiences can’t get enough of these films,” said box-office analyst Paul Dergarabedian of the media measurement company Rentrak. “They are like that guilty pleasure. It’s completely unique compared to everything else out there.”

The 3D animated kiddie flick Free Birds, out in Ireland at the end of this month, soared into third place in the US.

Last Vegas, featuring an all-star cast including Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, and Kevin Kline, took fourth place in its second weekend.

Last weekend’s US box-office champ, the sci-fi adaptation Ender’s Game, starring Harrison Ford, Asa Butterfield, and Viola Davis, dropped to fifth place.

“Once Thor opened, it presented a pretty healthy competitor to all of the movies in the market-place,” Dergarabedian said. “We’re starting this process of the holiday movie season, which, dollar for dollar, is just as important as the summer movie season. In a seven- to eight-week period, we are talking about close to 20% of the total-year box office.”


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