‘Thor: The Dark World’ Scores $31.6M Friday, on Pace for $85M Box-Office Weekend

Disney’s Marvel superhero sequel on track to be 2013’s 4th-largest debut. It adds $21.4M overseas Friday to lift foreign total to $174M

“Thor: The Dark World” powered to an estimated $31.6 million in its U.S box-office debut Friday, and the Marvel superhero sequel is on track for an opening weekend in the $85 million range.

Disney was counting on a boost from “The Avengers” and got it. The original “Thor” opened to $65 million in 2011 – a year before the blockbuster Marvel superhero mash-up — and went on to make $450 million worldwide. It’s clear “The Dark World” will blow past that now; it brought in another $21.4 million from overseas Friday and has taken in more than $174 million overseas already.

Domestically, “The Dark World” is pacing a little ahead the studio’s projections for the weekend and a little under most analysts’ predictions. The Friday figure total included $7.1 million from Thursday showings.

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If it does wind up around $85 million, it will be the year’s fourth-largest opening, behind “Iron Man 3” ($174 million), “Man of Steel” ($116 million) and “Fast and Furious 6” ($97 million). It would also be just behind the $88 million that the James Bond thriller “Skyfall” opened to on this weekend last year.

Opening-night moviegoers at a market-high 3,841 theaters – roughly 80 percent of which were 3D — gave “The Dark World” an “A-” CinemaScore. Those under 18 gave it an “A,” so it could get a significant lift from word-of-mouth on Saturday.

Reviews for the film, which stars Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddlston and Natalie Portman, have been respectable. It’s at 67 percent positive on Rotten Tomatoes. There were no other wide openers and “The Dark World” grosses will eclipse the rest of the top ten combined, but there were some bright spots.

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Paramount’s “Bad Grandpa,” CBS Films’ “Last Vegas” and Relativity’s animated “Free Birds” are all on pace to finish with around $11 million for the three days. The R-rated Johnny Knoxville comedy, in its third week, and the seniors-gone-wild tale, back for its second week, brought in bought in roughly $3.2 million Friday. “Free Birds” did $2.6 million, but will get a boost from families on Saturday and Sunday.

The thunder god took a toll on last week’s No. 1 movie “Ender’s Game,” which targets much the same demographic group. The Summit Entertainment sci-fi adaptation’s $2.9 million was off nearly 70 percent from last Friday and it likely will finish the weekend behind that group with around $10.5 million, which would put its domestic total at $44 million.

In its nationwide debut, Oscar front-runner “12 Years a Slave” took in $1.8 million from 1,144 theaters and is on track for a strong $6.8 million weekend and seventh place for Fox Searchlight.

But Warner Bros.’ “Gravity,” which remained in 2,720 theaters in its sixth week, continued to top the awards hopefuls. The space saga raised its domestic total to $225 million by bringing in $2.3 million Friday and will finish the three days with more than $8 million.

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Sony’s Tom Hanks piracy saga “Captain Phillips” added $1.5 million Friday and is looking at just under $6 million for the three days. It’s on its way to $100 million domestically, with $91 million in its fifth week.

Universal went wide with its romantic comedy “About Time” and the Richard Curtis time-travel tale brought in $1.5 million from 1,200 theaters. It will wind up the three days with more than $5 million.

Fox debuted “The Book Thief” on four L.A. and New York theaters and it brought in $26,000 for a pretty good $6,416 per-screen average.