'Love & Thunder' Scores Biggest 'Thor' Opening Yet With $143 Million, 'Minions: Rise of Gru' Surpasses $200 Million, 'Top Gun: Maverick' Nears $600 Million
The summer hot streak continues this weekend with Thor: Love and Thunder, which easily took first place as it brought in $143 million in its debut, with $29 million of that coming from Thursday previews. The Taika Waititi-directed superhero film, which opened in 4,375 theaters and got 36% of its gross from IMAX, PLF, 3D, and Motion screens, is the second Marvel Cinematic Universe release of the year, and while the opening numbers aren't up there with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (still the year's biggest opening with $187 million), they are the biggest for the God of Thunder's solo films, beating Thor: Ragnarok by 16%. This continues the trend of each Thor film being bigger than the last, at least in the opening weekend, and in the coming weeks we'll get a sense of whether it can maintain its pace to surpass Ragnarok's $315 million domestic and $854 million worldwide cumes.

Love and Thunder reunites Thor (Chris Hemsworth) with his ex-girlfriend Jane Foster (Natalie Portman, after having sat the MCU out since 2013’s Thor: The Dark World) who has become the Mighty Thor, and they team up to stop Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale) who, as his name indicates, seeks to destroy the gods. If there’s some bad news for the 29th MCU film’s overall box-office prospects, it is the world of mouth. Critics felt the film didn't live up to its predecessor, with its 68% Rotten Tomatoes score falling considerably short of Ragnarok's 93% (and becoming the fourth worst reviewed MCU title). While these films are largely critic proof, it appears that audiences share the same disappointment here as they gave it a "B+" CinemaScore, making it one of only four MCU films to fall below the “A” range.

Of course, this isn’t to say Love and Thunder won’t become yet another major moneymaker for the studio, it just suggests it may not reach the $1+ billion highs we’ve seen from some recent MCU films. Doctor Strange 2 received the same CinemaScore and similar reviews (74% on Rotten Tomatoes), and it has a 2.19x multiplier, compared to the 2.56x multiplier of Ragnarok. If Love and Thunder plays like Doctor Strange 2, we’re looking at a domestic gross of $313 million, which is practically on par with Ragnarok and would put it in the top ten for an MCU film not featuring Iron Man or Spider-Man. On top of that, international is looking even stronger, and the film is running 29% ahead of Ragnarok on a like-for-like basis for a global debut of $302 million, though the lack of a China release for Love and Thunder may make it tough to top that earlier installment. That said, Disney is predicting the film plays long through the second half of the summer, and it has the advantage of being the final major tentpole of the season.

Second place went comfortably to Minions: The Rise of Gru with $45.6 million, dropping 57.4% after its record breaking Fourth of July long weekend and bringing its total to $210 million. The latest installment in Univeral’s $4+ billion grossing animated franchise is falling a bit behind the first Minions, which dropped 57% in its second weekend when it grossed $49.3 million for a cume of $216 million. Internationally Minions 2 is playing like Despicable Me 3, which made $770 million in the overseas markets, and the global cume on Minions 2 is currently at $400 million.

In third place is Top Gun: Maverick which dropped 40% for a $15.5 million weekend. If the actuals hold up, this gives Maverick the biggest ever seventh wide weekend for a non-James Cameron movie. Tom Cruise’s box office phenomenon now has a domestic cume of $597 million, putting it a day or two away from the $600 million milestone and a week or two away from entering the top ten at the all-time domestic box office. Its global cume is now $1.184 billion.

Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis came in fourth place with $11 million bringing its cume to $91 million, and it will soon become Luhrmann’s second movie to cross $100 million. While Elvis is relatively U.S. heavy, its global cume has reached $155 million.

Jurassic World Dominion came in fifth place with an additional $8.4 million, bumping its total to $350 million. This is $34 million behind Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom after its fifth weekend, but at $876 million globally Dominion is undoubtedly a big success.

Also of note in the top ten is The Black Phone, in sixth place with $7.7 million, bringing its total to $62 million. Scott Derrickson’s acclaimed chiller is the top grossing non-sequel horror film since the start of the pandemic.

Notable in the specialty box office is A24’s Marcel the Shell With Shoes On, which added 26 theaters for 48 total and took home $340k for a $963k cume, just shy of a million. The animated mockumentary goes wide next week.