Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Thor Hurtles to the Top of the Box Office

Scott hammers out his thoughts on Thor: The Dark World's success at the box office this weekend.  Get it?  I said hammers, and Scott probably owns a hammer. 

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One lesson that I had thought I learned back in the summer when I first started doing box office predictions was that you should never drink the magic Kool-Aid that is the last minute hype around a film. Whether it be a surge in social media awareness, large overseas grosses starting to file in, or an exceptional late Thursday night gross, it is usually best to stick with your gut. Perhaps one time in ten these factors will go against your original analysis, but most often they do not amount to what we can interpret them to mean. In the case of Thor: The Dark World, it had all three of those factors mentioned, and against better judgement, I deviated from what I was originally going to predict and ended up over shooting by about $20 million.

The sequel to the 2011 movie, Thor, did have a great opening weekend of $86 million dollars. That is a very decent increase from Thor’s $65 million opening weekend, and a big win for Disney who gets to revel in the success of the Marvel universe. On late Thursday night showings, Thor: The Dark World brought in $7 million dollars, which indicated a very strong start to the weekend. Saturday’s gross was almost exactly the same as Friday’s, with Sunday seeing a decline of 32%. That is actually a more consistent weekend than Iron Man 3 had back in May, but Tony Stark has the last laugh as Iron Man 3 opened to a year leading $174 million.

This was a very hard movie to predict, because of the reasons mentioned in my Friday write up, and there seemed to be a very large window of possibilities that this film could have landed in. Ultimately, I believe it was held down to the lower end of the predictions because of a few things. First, Chris Hemsworth is not a huge draw at the moment, although this role is really helping his career. Secondly, it is Thor, a super hero that is exciting and interesting to watch, but lacks the depth of character that other characters have, such as Tony Stark and Wolverine. Thirdly, perhaps it is the fact that it was yet another big budget movie with the same ‘end of the world’ consequences that every other movie brings to the table these days. What made Iron Man 3 stand out so much was the fact that it went such a different direction and made a movie that was actually more about Tony Stark as the hero than Iron Man. Sometimes even the masses like something that is different.

What is unfortunate for the longevity of this film is the near arrival of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, which comes to theatres in two weeks. This is the movie that Thor should be most afraid of, as it is poised to offer some viable competition to the title of largest opening weekend of 2013. There is a good chance that The Dark World will see a natural drop of around 50% next weekend, and after that, it could become almost forgotten. Luckily, the overseas haul is already top notch as it has made an estimated worldwide tally of $327 million.

Expanding to nationwide release this past weekend was the Oscar contender, 12 Years a Slave, which stars Chiwetel Ejiofor and is directed by Steve McQueen. While it had been working its way towards nationwide release, it had been able to maintain fairly reasonable decreases in its per theatre averages. Because the movie focuses on not only racism, but a harsh look at the brutal existence of slavery, it is not the type of movie that is going to be for all audiences. The more a movie like that expands, the more it gets away from showing only in art-house style theatres and ends up in a lot of main stream franchise cinemas. It is in these locales that deep, disturbing, and provocative films may get completely overlooked, as the cliental is more suited towards lighter fare. 12 Years a Slave, while expanding from 410 theatres to 1,144 theatres was not able to gain its rank in the box office, finishing seventh place, the same as it did the week prior. It also saw a per theatre drop of 50%, and ended up making $6.6 million over the course of the weekend.

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