Weekend Report: 'Thor' Sequel Gets Boost from 'The Avengers'
Thor: The Dark World dominated the box office this weekend, though the god of thunder was unable to make it in to the elite club of superheroes who have opened a movie over $100 million.

Playing at 3,841 locations, the second follow-up to The Avengers opened to $85.7 million. That's up 30 percent on the first Thor's $65.7 million, and is also the best start yet for a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie that doesn't feature Iron Man. It is, of course, less than half of Iron Man 3's $174.1 million, though it's important to remember that Chris Hemsworth's Thor isn't even remotely as popular as Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark.

The Dark World's 30 percent improvement over the first Thor can largely be attributed to The Avengers, which helped raise the profile of Thor and his evil brother Loki (who was featured prominently in this movie's marketing). In comparison, Iron Man 3's bump over Iron Man 2 was a bit better (36 percent), though it's not an apples-to-apples comparison. Iron Man 3 benefited from the addition of 3D premiums, whereas Thor: The Dark World actually had less 3D attendance than the original Thor (39 percent vs. 60 percent). Ultimately, Thor: The Dark World and Iron Man 3 seem to have benefited equally from their connection to The Avengers.

It is worth noting that Thor 2's 3D figure (39 percent) is a bit of a disappointment. There was an expectation that Gravity helped improve audience perception of 3D, and Disney/Marvel attempted to piggyback on that by adding five minutes of April 2014's Captain America: The Winter Soldier in front of the 3D version of Thor 2. The unimpressive 3D share suggests moviegoers remain skeptical of the premium-priced format.

Thor: The Dark World did play well in large format venues. The movie earned $5.3 million in IMAX, despite splitting showtimes with Ender's Game. Meanwhile, seven percent of its take came from other premium large-format screens.

Thor's audience was overwhelmingly male (62 percent), which suggests the appeal of Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman wasn't enough to get many women to give the fantasy/sci-fi movie a chance. Also, 61 percent of those in attendance were over the age of 25.

Audiences awarded the movie a solid "A-" CinemaScore. With a complete lack of competition next weekend, Thor should have a better-than-average hold, and a final total north of $200 million is a guarantee at this point.

Miles away from Thor, there was a virtual tie for second, third and fourth place this weekend.

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa held second place with $11.3 million, which was off 43 percent from last weekend. To date, it has earned $78.8 million (second all-time in the Jackass franchise), and appears on pace for over $100 million by the end of its run.

Free Birds and Last Vegas both had great second weekend holds. The animated turkeys dipped 30 percent to $11.1 million, while the geriatric partygoers eased 32 percent to $11.04 million. The movies have now earned $30.1 million and $33.5 million, respectively.

After topping the box office last weekend, Ender's Game plummeted 62 percent to $10.3 million this weekend. Through 10 days, the sci-fi flick has earned $44 million, which is a bit behind notorious 2013 bomb After Earth. With The Hunger Games: Catching Fire coming in two weeks, it's likely that Ender's Game continues its quick fade.

Gravity added $8.5 million for a new total of $231.2 million, which ranks seventh on the year ahead of Star Trek Into Darkness. 's 3D sensation remains on pace for a final total around $260 million.

Steve McQueen's acclaimed slavery drama 12 Years a Slave expanded nationwide to 1,144 theaters this weekend and earned $6.7 million. To date, it has already banked $17.4 million, and is a few days away from eclipsing fellow Fox Searchlight release 127 Hours ($18.3 million). The movie is clearly connecting with mainstream audiences, and will continue to expand its reach next weekend (around 1,300 locations).

Playing in 1,200 theaters, About Time took ninth place with $4.8 million. That's not a particularly good debut, though the British time travel romance is the type of movie that should hang on well over the next few weeks.

All Is Lost expanded to 401 theaters and made it in to the Top 12 with $1.13 million. The Robert Redford lost-at-sea flick has now grossed a modest $2.8 million.

World War II drama The Book Thief opened to $105,005 at four locations in New York and Los Angeles. Fox's expansion plans are unclear at the moment.

Around-the-World Roundup

In its second weekend of overseas release, Thor: The Dark World added $94 million for an early total of $240.9 million. It's currently playing in around 92 percent of the international marketplace.

The superhero sequel opened to $19.6 million in China, which is higher than The Avengers and also more than the first Thor earned in its entire run there.

It's now a few days away from passing the first Thor's $268 million overseas total. With Italy and Japan on the way, Thor: The Dark World is now guaranteed to earn more than $400 million overseas by the end of its run.

Gravity extended its strong international run with a $26.3 million haul this weekend. Including previews, it opened in first place in the U.K. with $9.8 million; a whopping 89 percent of that gross came from 3D showings. Meanwhile, it added $4.2 million in France for a three-week total of $32 million, which makes it the movie's highest-grossing market so far.

Gravity has now earned $241.2 million overseas. It opens in China in two weeks, and is the type of big-screen 3D experience that does massive business there ($50 million is a guarantee). Add in its Japan run (which begins in December) and Gravity is on course for around $400 million.

Sylvester Stallone/Arnold Schwarzenegger prison break movie Escape Plan may have been a major disappointment at the domestic box office, but it's doing solid business overseas so far. The movie opened in China on Monday, and by Thursday had earned $13 million (weekend grosses weren't available yet). Lionsgate is reporting a $53.5 million foreign total so far, and the movie still has a handful of major markets (France, Germany, Australia, Korea, Spain and Japan) on the way.

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'Thor 2' Aims for 'Avengers' Bump This Weekend

Past Marvel Cinematic Universe Openings:

• 'Iron Man 3' - 'Iron Man 3' Takes Off with Second-Highest Opening Ever

• 'The Avengers' - 'Avengers' Smashes Records

• 'Captain America' - 'Captain America' Rockets to the Top, 'Potter's Bubble Bursts

• 'Thor' - 'Thor' Thwacks It Within the Park

• 'Iron Man 2' - 'Iron Man 2' Builds on 'Iron Man' Launch

• 'Iron Man' - 'Iron Man' Blasts Off

This Weekend in Past Years:

• 2012 - 'Skyfall' Scores Best Bond Debut Ever

• 2011 - Olympian Debut for 'Immortals'

• 2010 - {lnk47953}'Megamind' Stays on Track, 'Unstoppable' Holds the Denzel Washington Line{/lnk}

• 2009 - '2012' Plagues the Box Office

• 2008 - James Bond Takes 'Quantum' Leap

• 2007 - 'Bee' Keeps Buzzing as 'Fred,' 'Lions' Don't Roar

• 2006 - 'Borat' Schticks to First

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