With “The Wolf of Wall Street’ shifted to Christmas, “Thor: The Dark World” has clear sailing until “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” lands
Martin Scorsese and Paramount probably didn’t mean to do any favors for “Thor: The Dark World” when they shifted the “The Wolf of Wall Street” opening away from next weekend — but they did.
And Disney’s Marvel superhero sequel looks ready to take full advantage, in the wake of its $86.1 million opening this past weekend. With the Leonardo DiCaprio drama now set for Christmas, “Thor: The Dark World” will have the field largely to itself again this week, at least in terms of openers. The only wide release is “The Best Man Holiday,” which is aimed at African-American audiences.
“We caught a break there,” Disney’s head of distribution Dave Hollis said, “but we have a lot of confidence in this movie, and we think we’ll be fine going forward.”
He meant even beyond next weekend, starting on Nov. 22, when “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” rolls out. Summit’s Jennifer Lawrence sequel is expected to be a major blockbuster.
Of course, accumulating $327 million in global grosses in your first two weeks tends to make you feel positive.
“You look at last year and you’ll see that ‘Skyfall’ played very well right through ‘Twilight,’ so we think we’ll be OK,” said Hollis.
It’s unlikely the god of thunder can show the staying power that James Bond did, but there could be room for both Thor and Katniss if the market expands. The solid family numbers for “The Dark World” and its skew toward older males — as opposed to the young women that are the “Catching Fire” prime demo target — suggest they could co-exist, at least to a degree.
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MGM and Sony’s “Skyfall” opened slightly above “The Dark World” with $88 million about the same time last year — and did indeed hold strongly. “Breaking Dawn: Part 2,” the “Twilight” franchise finale, opened to $144 million the following week and “Skyfall” fell to $41 million. The next week, “Breaking Dawn” did $43 million and Bond still managed $35 million, before going on to wind up with $1.1 billion worldwide.
Thor isn’t Bond, and for that matter, he’s not Superman, Spider-Man or Iron Man, all of whom managed domestic openings above $100 million. And few would suggest Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman bring the box-office heat that Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow brought to “Iron Man 3.”
But that’s what makes “The Dark World” opening so impressive, even if its opening didn't hit the heights some analysts had projected.
Disney and Marvel leveraged every bit of the momentum provided by “The Avengers” to lift a second-tier superhero in a film with so-so reviews (66 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) into a major hit. Marvel Production President Kevin Feige gets the primary credit for that, and the marketing team’s execution – especially in spotlighting Tom Hiddleston’s Loki character – was dead-on.
The original “Thor” cost $150 million and took in $450 million worldwide in 2001. Disney puts the “The Dark World” production budget at $170 million, and it’s on course for a $200 million domestic haul and a global total of more than $600 million.
Then there’s the ancillaries and the continuing boost for Marvel’s “Avengers”-driven momentum. It will next be felt in May 2014, when “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” – which was previewed before many “Dark World” screenings – rolls out.
That’s a win for Disney, regardless of what Katniss does.