Box office preview: Can 'Thor: The Dark World' hammer up a $100 million debut?

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Image Credit: Jay Maidment

When The Avengers earned over $600 million in the U.S. and $1.5 billion worldwide last year, Disney eagerly set its sights on Iron Man 3, hoping that the Tony Stark solo show would get a major box office boost thanks to The Avengers‘ exposure — even without a patriotic mega-soldier and a hulking green monster onscreen beside him. Well, Disney’s plan worked — and then some.

Iron Man 3 earned $409 million domestically and $1.2 billion worldwide, and it opened 36 percent above its predecessor Iron Man 2, which topped out at $312 million in the U.S. and $623 million globally. Immediately after Iron Man 3‘s stellar run this summer, prognosticators began speculating whether each individual member of The Avengers team would see such a spike for their spin-off films — which brings us to Thor: The Dark World.

Now, the original Thor didn’t perform in the same league as any of the Iron Man movies. The Chris Hemsworth vehicle opened with $65.7 million in 2011 on its way to a $181 million domestic finish. Because of its quieter performance, it makes sense that The Dark World would score a bigger proportional boost from The Avengers than Iron Man 3 did.

That being said, marketing for Thor: The Dark World has left many moviegoers saying, “Meh,” and the merely okay buzz (especially compared to the fandemonium surrounding the trailer for Captain America: The Winter Soldier) will cut into the Norse god’s profit margins — though the played-up dynamic between Thor and his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), who became a fan-favorite in The Avengers, should make up most of the difference.

Right now, a debut in above $100 million seems pretty bullish, but if The Dark World opens 40 percent better than Thor, it’s looking at a $91 million opening weekend, which would set it up for a finish in the $250 million range domestically — or higher, given its solid reviews, which currently stand at 70 percent on RottenTomatoes. The film is already doing great business overseas, and that’s good because Disney shelled out $170 million to make the superhero film and that’s not including marketing.

The rest of the Top 5 will look very similar to last week, so I won’t waste your time telling you what percentages they might fall by. Here’s how the rankings may stand by Sunday night:

1. Thor: The Dark World – $91 million
2. Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa – $12.5 million
3. Last Vegas – $11.5 million
4. Ender’s Game – $11 million
5. Free Birds – $10.5 million

Check back to EW all weekend to see how mighty Thor actually is.

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