Chris Hemsworth is the title character in "Thor." (Mark Fellman, Marvel Studios )
"Thor," the first in a line of four superhero films to be released this summer, banged into theaters this weekend and enjoyed a thunderous debut.
The 3-D movie about the Norse god pounded the competition, grossing a solid $66 million, according to an estimate from distributor Paramount Pictures. The other two new films in wide release were both romantic comedies about weddings, and neither could attract nearly as many moviegoers as "Thor."
"Jumping the Broom," about two families from different backgrounds converging at a wedding, collected a decent $13.7 million. "Something Borrowed," based on Emily Giffin's bestselling novel of the same name, had a softer $13.2-million take.
"Fast Five," the fifth installment in the popular series of films featuring high-speed cars, continued to ignite ticket sales. It grossed an additional $32.5 million over the weekend, bringing its current domestic tally to $139.9 million.
After posting the biggest opening weekend for any movie this year, the film's ticket sales fell 62% in its second weekend in theaters despite audiences' having given it a strong average grade of A, according to market research firm CinemaScore. Still, that's a relatively normal drop for a big action movie — indeed, the fourth "Fast" film also dropped 62% in its second weekend of release in 2009.
Overseas, "Fast Five" expanded from 14 to 44 foreign markets and raked in a phenomenal $86.6 million. In Brazil, where it is set, the movie premiered at No. 1, taking in $5 million. Its current international total is already near $200 million, at $184.8 million.
Following that movie, "Thor" was the second big-budget studio release in a summer that many in the industry hope will help reverse what has been a bleak year at the box office.
"The combination of these two movies certainly show that when people are excited about what's coming out and looking forward to seeing a big, fun movie, they'll go to the theater," said Rob Moore, vice chairman of Paramount Pictures, which is distributing "Thor." "Getting people excited for an event is key, and Marvel has done a great job of getting its loyal fan base looking forward to being a part of an opening weekend."
"Thor" was produced by Walt Disney Pictures-owned Marvel Entertainment for around $150 million. That means if anyone should really be pleased with the film's start, it's Disney.
Not surprisingly, the movie, based on the popular comic book character, appealed mostly to men. Nearly two-thirds of the audience — some 63% — was male. The well-reviewed movie received a good average grade of B-plus.
Though "Thor's" first weekend was solid, it didn't come close to matching the $98.6 million "Iron Man" brought in its debut in 2008. Still, it did have a somewhat better launch than some other Marvel-owned properties, like 2008's "The Incredible Hulk," which had a $55.4-million opening.
Heading into the weekend, "Thor" already had opened in 56 foreign markets and grossed more than $100 million. This weekend, the movie also played in four new countries, including China, and collected an additional $46 million. The film's total abroad now stands slightly below "Fast Five's" at $176 million.
"Jumping the Broom," which features a predominantly African American cast, drew mostly women — they made up 70% of the audience. The film exceeded industry expectations and was applauded by moviegoers, who gave it an average grade of A. That's a sign that the movie industry should be making more films for minority audiences, said Rory Bruer, Sony's distribution president.
"It's a very good business to be in — there are absolutely very positive opportunities there for Hollywood," he said.
"Jumping" was financed by Sony's TriStar label for about $7 million and was produced by Our Stories Films, the studio co-founded by the founder of Black Entertainment Television, Robert Johnson. The film was marketed toward a faith-based audience, as one of its producers is Bishop T.D. Jakes. He hosted a number of screenings of the film at religious conferences in the weeks leading to its release.
"Something Borrowed" was produced and financed by Alcon Entertainment for about $35 million. The movie, being distributed by Warner Bros., attracted a 73% female audience, 65% of whom were older than 25, indicating that the crowd likely consisted of those familiar with the popular "chick-lit" book. The movie was given an average grade of B.
Kate Hudson, who stars in the film, is often thought of as one of the romantic-comedy queens of Hollywood. She's starred in a handful of lighthearted films, a few of which have been about impending nuptials, aimed at women. But "Something Borrowed's" opening fell well below some of her other recent films — for example, 2009's "Bride Wars," which opened to $21.1 million.
Still, Jeff Goldstein, executive vice president of distribution for Warner Bros., said the film's debut should not be viewed as a negative referendum on the actress' career.
"This is her wheelhouse — it's really her comfort zone," he said, referring to Hudson's rom-com experience. "She's got a big smile, she lights up the screen, and audiences still like that."